Twenty years ago, I followed a classic body-part weight training split, with a few days of steady-state cardio. This was the base for my 20s. Nothing magical, but probably how most people in the world still train today. In 2012, I enrolled in a personal training course and it bored the you-know-what out of me, as it perpetuated that old-fashioned methodology.
In my early 30s, my training changed drastically and I have maintained this training philosophy since. A functional, strength-focused programme built on the fundamentals of movement patterns first. It is built on barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells. It places a priority on movement. This is highly effective because it builds muscle tissue, and by sheer exertion, burns fat. To learn how to exercise like this, you must employ a coach — don’t try to copy a video as you will get it wrong. This advice is for your safety and to get the most benefit from the training.
Since then, and depending on whether I felt the need to “shape up” a bit, I would introduce varying amounts of high-intensity interval training, and in the past few years have added running. Have I kept six pack abs every month since? No — because one gets lazy … but throw out the ice cream, start running more and viola, magic happens.
The last question is: what should I eat?
This is perhaps the most mind-boggling of the lot, because healthy eating and diet-related content is about the easiest to access. Everyone has at least a working knowledge of what good food is, what bad food is, and what overeating is and what undereating is. It doesn’t matter whether you follow a Mediterranean diet, a banting diet or believe in the virtues of whole carbohydrates, there is a dietician or nutritionist who can help you build a good eating plan. Invest in one.
I’ve tried all eating styles and they all work if followed properly, and none work if followed half-heartedly or only when it suits you — which accounts for most people in the world.
The answer: Diet is the foundation and without this you are not building anything. Most people understand they should “do cardio” but adding strength training will, in my experience, shape things like never before. Google the health benefits of strength training for men and women — it’s a no-brainer.
Nothing will work if you are not consistent, week after week, month after month. Finally, supplements are there to supplement — and not replace — diet and training. If you’d like to be in shape by December, clean out your pantry, hire a trainer, and exercise often and hard.