Monday, 9 April 2012

Workout Plan for Men (and Women!): The Ins and Outs to Getting In Shape

Hey loves hope you're all well. I have a different sort of post for you today, this is something which I have been excited to share with you for a while but I had to wait until the right time before I could write this up properly. As some of you may be aware, my other half is a big fitness fanatic and he agreed to help me with a short series of posts for my blog which focuses on how he has been getting in to shape recently. I think it is very important to look after your body and that how you feel on the inside will reflect on the outside, so keeping in shape is a great first step to achieving that positive feeling. I wrote out a number of questions for Waqar and asked him to answer them in as much detail and with as much information as he could. Be warned, this is a text heavy post but I promise it is worth the read!

Please keep in mind, although the answers have been given to me by a male, the general concept and advice still applies to both women and men. 

Why did you begin a diet/workout plan?
I was out of shape and didn’t have a healthy or consistent diet for a while and decided it was time to make a change in my life. In my mind I had an image of what I wanted to look like and I didn’t want to quit until I achieved it.

What was your starting weight and body fat percentage?
My starting weight in September 2011 was 98.5kg (217 lbs or 15.5 stones). Body fat percentage was around 25-27%

What is a cutting cycle?
A cutting cycle is a diet related term. It simply means to eat at a caloric deficit daily under your maintenance level to ensure consistent and healthy weight loss. Your maintenance level could be 1500, 2000 or 2500 calories etc. It is purely determined by your present weight and how active you are. A healthy deficit would be 10-20% under maintenance.

How does one determine their calorie maintenance level?
The simplest method of estimating needs is to base your intake on a standard 'calories per unit of weight (usually kilograms)'. Typically:
- 26 to 30 calories per kg a day for normal, healthy individuals with sedentary lifestyles doing little physical activity.
- 31 to 37 calories per kg a day for those involved in light to moderate activity 3-5 x a week with moderately active lifestyles.
- 38 to 40 calories per kg a day for those involved in vigorous activity and highly active jobs.

- To ADD weight: ADD 10-20% calories to the total above
- To LOSE weight: SUBTRACT 10-20% calories from the total above

Then monitor your results and adjust as required.

Photo taken at the beginning of the diet/workout plan around September 2011

How often do you go to the gym and how long does a typical workout last?
I go gym without fail five times a week. Each workout is fixed to 90 minutes as I’m strict with time and don’t laze about when I’m there. This is what worked for me but three times a week with the right routine can be just as effective.

What does your diet consist of? Describe a typical day in terms of what you eat.
Oatmeal, Chicken Breasts, Egg Whites, Wholegrain Brown Bread, Peanut Butter, Low Fat Strawberry Jam, Whole Grain Pasta, Brown Rice, Broccoli, Sweet Potato, Low Fat Ice Cream, Skimmed Milk, Apples, Greek Yoghurt 0% with Honey and Almonds, Protein Shake, Water!
The above is a typical list of what I buy in terms of food supply with the exception of water. But I drink lots of it. I’ll keep it simple in terms of what I could eat during a day with the average 3 meals a day plus snacks if needed.

Breakfast – Oatmeal with Skimmed Milk OR Egg Whites.
Lunch – Whole Grain Pasta with chopped tomatoes and onions OR two peanut butter and jam sandwiches.
Dinner – Chicken Breasts chopped up cooked in home made sauce and served with brown rice OR Chicken Breast grilled and served with broccoli and sweet potatoes.
Snacks – Apples, Protein Shake (compulsory for me), Almonds, Low fat ice cream, Greek Yoghurt.

I think it’s important to stress here that what you eat doesn’t matter much it’s ALL about how much you eat. Losing or gaining weight is strictly a numbers game and all that matters is whether you’re in surplus or deficit at the end of the day. I eat what I eat because it works for me. The only advice I can give is stay off the fizzy drinks and junk food such as crisps and fast food take away. If you must drink fizzy then stick to diet coke and keep it moderated.

Breakdown your gym routine for us from the moment you walk into the gym to the moment your workout is complete for the day.
Well I train different body parts on different days so the first 45 minutes will be weight exercises relevant to that body part. For example on Monday I work my Chest and Triceps and I will typically do four exercises for Chest and two exercises for Triceps on that day. The reason I only do two for Triceps on Monday is because I have a Bicep and Triceps dedicated workout on Thursday!
Each exercise will consist of 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps, I tend to mix it up every couple weeks so my body never gets accustomed. I get the best results this way.
Once that’s done I focus strictly on my abs for the next 15 mins and do 4 circuit sets which consist of Cable Crunches, Hanging Knee Raises and, Cable Twist Crunches. A circuit set in this case simply means doing all three exercises without rest.
Finally I finish it off with 30 mins of cardio where I always aim to burn 500 calories minimum.

Photo taken approximately half way through the diet/workout plan around December 2011

What is your favourite gym exercise and why?
Cable Crunches! Doing this for the last 4 months has helped me go from a belly to a six pack :-P.

Tell us about a point where motivation was low for you and how you overcame this.
Well I hit a major wall when I was around 85kg where my progress just stopped completely for a few weeks. This had a massive impact on my motivation as I was nowhere near my final goal (77kg) and I almost felt like there was nothing I could do to overcome this plateau. I had you to support me telling me not to give up and try and change things up a bit to see if that helps. So what I did was lower my calories slightly and do a longer cardio session (went from 15 to 18 mins). This gave me the edge I needed to break that wall. 

What is your current weight and body fat percentage? Total loss so far?
Current weight is 78.5kg and body fat percentage is 11-12%. Total loss so far is 20kg (44 lbs or 3.1 stones)

What happens now that you’ve finished this cutting cycle? Where do you go from here?
I plan to bulk for 4 months till the end of July where I will have hoped to pack on 5kg – majority of which will be muscle. From there I’ll cut down back to 79-80kg hoping to attain my long term goal which is 8% body fat rocking a very solid set of abs.

Photo taken at the end of the cutting cycle around March 2012

What keeps you motivated?
My beautiful yet annoying other half Numera. Hope you’re feeling appreciative while enjoying that pinkberry when I’m busting my ass in the gym lol.
(I would like to add that I did NOT pay him to write that!!! Ok, maybe I bought him some nandos..)

Do you have any tips for men who want to improve their fitness/lose weight/become stronger?
Depending on what your goals are; bulking up to gain muscle, cutting down to lose fat etc the main thing is to stay dedicated. Make a plan to go to gym however many times a week you can commit to (3-5 is enough) and be disciplined on your diet. You can cheat with your diet once a week if you wish as do I but don’t do it any more than that. Lift big and train hard. Finally, be patient. The results will take time to come but if you stick to it you’ll be loving it in the end.
I think a good tip would be to find a training partner who has similar goals to you so you can keep each other motivated.

Do you have any tips for women who want to improve their fitness/lose weight/become stronger?
Same advice as the guys really however I’m sure with woman lifting weights is a bit of a touchy subject because of some myth that they’re going to grow muscles and look like a man LOL. Most women who suddenly get interested in health and fitness do so because they want to lose weight so focusing on that group I’d say get lots of cardio in. Eat at a caloric deficit and do some weighted exercises. The weights will give your body definition and symmetry in the right places to improve your figure. If all you did was run on a treadmill all day yes you’d most likely lose the fat in time but you’d look like a STICK as you’d lose muscle too. No figure, no shape = FAIL.

What would you say to motivate someone who lacks motivation/does not see any point in all this?
For someone who lacks motivation but has an interest I’d say do some reading up, sign up to a local gym and try to make the effort in improving your fitness and body. Find something to motivate you, You could simply want to be more attractive to the opposite sex or just be stronger and fitter. If you have a friend who goes to the gym or is thinking of doing so maybe you can touch base with them and train together! There’s a massive community online and there are thousands of people going through the same situation as you.
The person who does not see the point of it I’d say continue being fat/skinny the rest of your life while the rest of us reap the benefits.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
To train hard and never give up or make compromises. Always try to be better and never settle for ‘normal’.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Even if this motivates just one person to take that step and get into a gym/diet routine I’ll be happy with my contribution to this blog.

I know this was quite a long and detailed post with a LOT of information to take in, but I hope you enjoyed reading and please do leave your comments/questions for either myself or Waqar and I will try to get him to answer them for you!

Numera x


  1. I love this post! I'm going to share it with my guy mates!! The transformation is amazing - and in such a short time! Just shows what you can do with the right level of motivation!

    I've been doing weights for ages (although only 1.5kg weights) and I've noticed a much better definition in my figure! Being stick thin is not on my agenda!

    Thank you for such a fab post :) xxx

  2. Such a good post, really informative.

  3. Amazing post, your other half's had such a big transformation, I need to get to the gym!

  4. I found that to be genuinely, a really informative, helpful, inspiring post. I've been unhappy with my weight for ages but fall into the "lacking motivation" category. The sentence "continue being fat/skinny for the rest of your life while the rest of us reap the benefits" really hit home...
    Hopefully tomorrow I'll get up and properly start my Jillian Michaels 30 D.S!!!
    Loved this post xxx