It’s become a universally accepted fact that the appropriate time to jump into a plan for personal self-improvement is the first week of January. For a lot of people that means getting back into the gym and for others, it means starting from scratch.
The trend makes perfect sense. Between a beer and wing filled football season, the return of clothes that cover the whole body, and 8 weeks of gluttony that begins with Halloween and doesn’t wrap up until after the big ball drops in Times Square, a lot of people put on extra pounds during the final months of the year. January brings the promise of terrible weather, a sparse social calendar, and the looming specter of swimsuit season just 20 weeks away – so you might as well use this time to reignite your fitness flame.
In an effort to help you get into (or back into) the gym without wasting time and looking like a complete newb, I’ve put together a review of some of my favorite training programs. Whether you want to lose weight, get stronger, pack on some muscle. Whatever it is, there’s something here for everyone.
The Beginner – Starting Strength
As the name implies, ‘Starting Strength’ is perfect for learning the basics. Mark Rippetoe put enough into this program to keep new lifters going for an entire year. So if you’re new to lifting, or you’ve been out of the game for a while, this is probably the program for you. Check it out and in 12 months you’ll have a whole lot more muscle on your body and weight on the bar.
This is THE program for anyone struggling to get stronger. Jim Wendler knows his stuff, and has created a template for near continuous strength gains. It’s based on percentages of a one-rep max, so if you haven’t tested yours recently, you’ll want to do so before jumping in. Your best bet with this program is to start lighter than you think you can handle and focus on consistent progress. Follow Jim’s instructions, do it right, and you’re guaranteed to get stronger.
Get Big – The Superhero Workout
If you’ve already built a nice base of strength and want to develop pecs, arms, shoulders, and legs that will require a new wardrobe then this is your program. It’s 12 weeks long and focuses on high rep, body part specific work. Load up on protein and carbs, and get ready for skin splitting pumps!
Lean Out For Summer – 10×3 For Fat Loss
If you’re looking for some fat-burning action then you need to give Chad Waterbury’s 10×3 For Fat Loss a whirl. It is the definition of a ‘high intensity’ program so don’t worry about getting bored while walking on a treadmill for an hour a day — with this program you’ll be burning fat the fast way, and I can tell you from experience that it absolutely works.
This One Has It All – West Side For Skinny Bastards
This is the program that first helped me pack on both size and strength, while burning a little bit of fat too. It’s great for anyone who used to be an athlete and wants to look and feel like they still compete. Each workout begins with a heavy, compound movement, and continues with a body building style template that will help even the hardest of the hard gainers fill out nicely.