Step 0: Physical Health

 

Welcome to step 0. The first step on your journey to self improvement. Step 0, however, is an on-going adventure. You are to begin it now and you are to never quit doing it. Your physical health is important. If you’re in shape, then you will feel better, be more confident, and have more energy. Besides the obvious, it will train you to be persistent and to never quit. Persistence is invaluable to you throughout your journey because you will have setbacks. It all begins by taking good care of your body. You can follow my Summer 2012 journey here.

Your physical health is split into diet and exercise. If you want that six pack, you can do all the crunches in the world, nothing is going to change unless you change your diet. Your diet is the most important by far. You start eating right, and you’re going to see results. So let’s get started:

Subscribe to the following subreddits:

Watch this motivational and inspiring Youtube video.

Watch this documentary called Pumping Iron about bodybuilding. The link is to the full documentary on Youtube and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and his competitors as he goes for the coveted Mr. Olympia in 1975.

I highly recommend The Education of a Bodybuilder by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The first half of the book details the mindset of Arnold and how he became a champion. How do you motivate yourself and what your goals are. The book was addicting and I couldn’t put it down. Here is a great quote from the book:

I know that if you can change your diet and exercise program to give yourself a different body, you can apply the same principles to anything else. The secret is contained in a three-part formula I learned in the gym: self-confidence, a positive mental attitude, and honest hard work. Many people are aware of these principles, but very few can put them into practice. Every day I hear someone say, “I’m too fat. I need to lose twenty-five pounds, but I can’t. I never seem to improve.” I’d hate myself if I had that kind of attitude, if I were that weak. I can lose ten to forty pounds rapidly, easily, painlessly, by simply setting my mind to it. By observing the principles of strict discipline that bodybuilding taught me, I can prepare myself for anything…

The second half of the book talks about diet, exercise, and weight lifting routines to build muscle and get in shape. If you are dead serious about becoming a healthy individual who looks and feels great about yourself, this is the book to read. It will motivate you beyond anything and provide you with the knowledge and routines to go forward and begin working out.

I also recommend Muscle Chow. This book goes way more in depth about diet and gives you a ton of recipes for things to experiment with. Since I started following the Muscle Chow diet, I’ve been going to the supermarket every Sunday and buying all my food for the week and cooking myself. I have also completely given up alcohol (though this is not required. It was my personal decision). I have never felt better physically in my entire life.

Besides the Arnold book, there are two very popular starter programs known as Starting Strength and Stronglifts 5×5. These are different than what Arnold suggests in starting out, but no less effective. I am doing Stronglifts 5×5 and I absolutely love it. After I finish my 3 month plan, I’m going to switch to Arnold’s more advanced routines.

Starting Strength

Starting Strength is a 3×5 program, meaning that your working set will consist of 3 sets of 5 reps each.

The lifts used in the basic Starting Strength program are back squats, deadlifts, (overhead) press, bench press, and power cleans.

Stronglifts 5×5

Stronglifts is similar to Starting Strength, but uses a 5×5 scheme instead of a 3×5 scheme.

The lifts used in the Strong Lifts program are back squats, deadlifts, (overhead) press, bench press, and either barbell rows or inverted pushups, depending on the version of the program. This program also includes dedicated core work.

I highly recommend keeping a log of your food intake and workout routine. Every day I write down in my excel spreadsheet the meals I plan on eating and the workout I plan to complete. This will help keep you on track. Best of luck and start kicking ass!

 

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