That may seem like a lot of topics to cover. DON’T PANIC!
Because gaining muscle and strength really comes down to three things.
If you’re looking to start building muscle, getting bigger, and becoming stronger, these are the things you need to do:
Lift heavy things
Eat a diet based on your goals
Get enough rest
I realize doing those three things is much easier said than done – I struggled with progress for a decade and know exactly what you’re going through if you’re feeling unsure.
You probably don’t have years to make the mistakes that I did, and you just want to start getting results today. In addition to the free resources below, we also offer 1-on-1 Online Coaching, where you’ll get personalized instruction for your body type and goals, and professional accountability from a Coach on Team Nerd Fitness!
But enough of that, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to get started with Strength Training!
If you have been struggling with your weight (and having too high of a body fat percentage) for a while, I know how frustrating that can be.
It’s why we built our popular 1-on-1 Online Coaching program, so this time things can be different. Your NF Coach will help you track the right metrics (like body fat percentage) and set the right goals.
This is the type of stuff that we cover in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program: helping many of our clients prepare for upcoming races and 5Ks. We’ll teach you many of the same tips in today’s guide, so you can rock your competition safely.
Whew. It’s a lot to cover. Even just typing out the Table of Contents was exhausting.
But hang in there!
You’ll learn how to do Keto right, plus I’ll share cute animal gifs to make sure you’re still paying attention, like this one:
If you don’t have a lot of time, but do want an exact plan to follow, I got you. Since this is a MASSIVE article (the longest published on Nerd Fitness!), if you’d rather read it in a snazzy digital guide form, you can download our Beginner’s Guide to the Keto Dietfree when you sign up in the box below:
A serving of protein is about the size and thickness of your palm.
*The 4 oz serving is for an uncooked piece of meat. Cooking reduces about 25% of the weight, bringing it down to about 3 oz.
When building a plate, aim for the following amount of protein:
Dudes: 1-2 servings (6-8 oz or about 170-228 g): two palms
Dudettes: 1 serving (3-4 oz or about 85-114 g): 1 palm.
PART B) HALF OF YOUR PLATE SHOULD BE VEGETABLES: Veggies can be the difference between weight loss success and failure.
Vegetables are nutrient-dense but calorie-light, which means you can eat lots of them, you’ll feel full, but you’re unlikely to over-consume calories (remember that mountain of broccoli was only 200 calories!).
A serving of veggies is about the size of your fist, and 2 servings of veggies should take up ½ the plate!
Here’s a quick, non-complete list of veggies that can fill your plate:
Which brings me to the most important form of exercise for weight loss:
Rule #5: Strength Training For Weight Loss
#3) Strength training is the prizefighting champion when it comes to weight loss.
You can find studyafter studyafter studythat shows you the benefits of strength training for weight management when combined with “calorie restriction.”
Let me explain it here quickly, borrowing from Harry Potter:
(You know, the wizard.)
At the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, when each student arrives they put on the “Sorting Hat,” an actual hat that determines which House (group) that child will join for his/her time at Hogwarts.
The hat acts like a traffic director:
“Harry, you will go to Gryffindor! Draco, you will go to Slytherin!”
Your body operates in a VERY similar fashion: every day, it receives new calories (when you eat), and it needs to decide what to do with them!
It’ll sort those calories into one of three Houses:
A: Burn for Fuel.
B: Rebuild Muscle.
C: Store as Fat.
There’s a number of calories your body burns each day just existing: to keep your liver functioning, your heart pumping, your brain operating, and so on – it burns a good chunk of calories just keeping the lights on.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER: Doing a strength training workout 3 times per week is the most efficient way to lose the right kind of weight and look better naked.
Adding in intervals or fun exercise on your off days is a fantastic supplemental activity to strength training.
Want help learning how to strength train? You can absolutely build your own workout, or you can work with one of our coaches who can create a custom program that’s specific to your goals and lifestyle.
We’ll even make sure you’re doing the movements correctly via video, because we’re nice like that 🙂
25 Tips to Supercharge Weight Loss
The 5 Rules Above give you the best chance to lose weight in a way that doesn’t suck.
Changing your nutrition is like playing a video game: if you attack too many high-level bad guys at once, you’re going to lose.
Instead, you’re better off picking 1-2 smaller bad guys (changes) that you know you can win, and level up slowly.
THAT’S how you make changes that stick.
No more temporary dieting for temporary results!
Permanent changes create permanent results.
Here are 25 other quick tips that are supplementary to the above important ones!
1) Consider low-carb OR low-fat diets. Studies show BOTH low-carb and low-fat diets will result in weight loss, IF you can stick with it.
Many people tend to have more success faster on low carb, but they’re also more likely to abandon the diet. You don’t need to do Keto or Paleo if you don’t want to, and instead just work on reducing carbs overall.
2) Consider intermittent fasting. Fasting helps you keep your caloric intake under control by eliminating or narrowing your eating window – it simply means skipping a meal or occasionally doing 24-hour fasts.
It affects men and women differently, but has tons of benefits and is backed by science. Read our Guide on Intermittent Fasting. I’ve been skipping breakfast since 2014!
3) Minimize liquid calories. Beverages with calories in them are probably sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Cut out the sodas and lattes and high-calorie smoothies (unless you account for them in your calorie goal!). Stick to sparkling water, black coffee or tea, or other zero-calorie beverages.
4) Cut back on alcohol. Yes, you can still drink alcohol and lose weight, but you still need to account for the calories, of which there might be many!
And if you make poor food choices while drunk, it’s going to be tough to lose weight. Read our guide on alcohol and stick to low calorie beer, whiskey neat, or vodka with club sodas.
5) Know your condiments and cooking oils. Just because you’re eating grilled chicken and vegetables doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to lose weight!
If those foods are smothered in sauces or covered in 1000 calories of healthy olive oil, the calories still count! Keep an eye on the sauces and oils you use to cook with.
How much weight do you need to lose? Somebody who needs to lose 250 pounds will be able to lose more weight than somebody who needs to lose 10 pounds, simply because there is more weight to lose.
How big of a caloric deficit below your TDEE are you doing? If somebody normally eats 5000 calories per day and switches to 1500 calories per day, they’ll lose weight faster than if they switched to 4500 calories per day. Now, reducing calories significantly can create all sorts of “I’m miserable and hate everything” feelings as our body learns to stop expecting a ready supply of food and has to start burning fat instead.
Are you going low-carb like Paleo or Keto?As you’ll see below, cutting out carbs can create significant weight loss in the first weeks due to a reduction of ‘water weight and bloat.’ But cutting out carbs might also make you miserable!
First Week Weight Loss Expectations: Depending on how poorly you eat now, if you swap out unhealthy food for protein and veggies – reducing your calorie intake significantly – you might lose upwards of 5-10 pounds (5kg) in your first week.
It’s awesome to see the scale drop by that much in the first week, but it’s important to note that this type of weight loss won’t be typical week to week.
If you normally eat a lot of carbs and sodium, your body is carrying a lot of extra bloat and water weight. When you switch to mostly protein and veggies, you’ll lose TONS of water weight and some fat initially.
We’ve seen many Coaching Clients lose 5-10 pounds in their first week, again mostly due to the reduction of water weight with SOME fat loss.
First Month Weight Loss Expectations: Depending on how strict you are with your nutrition – you can lose 1% of your body fat, or 1-3 pounds per week after that (heavily dependent on how much weight you have to lose).
We have seen people (who have a lot of weight to lose) lose 20 pounds in their first month, mostly due to large water weight reduction in the first week, with a steady consistent drop after that.
Fiber is a carbohydrate that can’t be broken down by the body, so it travels through you relatively intact. However along the way it can do all sorts of good stuff! For example, increased fiber intake can help reduce blood glucose levels.
In case you’re worried about saturated fat, here’s a systematic review that found no link between saturated fat intake and a greater risk of all-cause mortality.
Low-Fat or Low Carb for Weight Loss? It Depends on Your Glucose Metabolism: Pubmed
“Steve, how many calories should I eat every day? I have goals!”
Knowledge is power, so today, we are going to make you more powerful by calculating your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).
Of course, “knowing is half the battle.” The other half is what you actually DO with your TDEE information!
Fortunately for you, we’ve helped thousands of Online Coaching Clients lose weight and get healthy, and TDEE is just one of many factors we consider when building a specific strategy for somebody’s goals.
Okay FINE, I’ll share the other factors and strategies below too.
Simply click on the section below for quick reading, though I’d recommend you read the whole enchilada to properly apply your TDEE to your life:
If you find yourself with a billion other strength training questions as you build your own workout, or you’re overwhelmed at all of this and not sure how to get stronger…you’re in good company!
It can be scary enough to keep MOST people from starting, which is actually why we created our Coaching Program.
Your NF Coach will do an initial assessment to calculate exactly how much weight you should start lifting. They’ll then design a program that they’ll adjust regularly based on your progress and schedule.
Plus, with our app, your coach can do regular video form checks to make sure you safely make consistent progress.
With that out of the way, let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of “how much weight should I lift?”