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If you’re new at this and you train at home with limited equipment, here’s some advice from a former and occasionally current garagehead. Everything about weight training applies to you except the range of exercises. You, with the right attitude and plan, can reach an exciting level of fitness, no doubt about it. You can build bigger, stronger muscles; you can trim down an overweight body and can shape it with intention. It just takes time, persistence and a keen personal agreement to do it.

For starters, define your workout area: garage, bedroom, basement -- whatever. Give yourself enough room to move freely, to breath and grow. A cramped area will work against you. A private area will work for you.

Now, neatly and concisely set up your equipment. If you’re so inclined, hang a couple of posters and tune your radio to your favorite sounds for background music -- atmosphere and a little company is always welcome, but you’re in charge.

You’re getting close.

Give yourself an hour three or four days a week to work out, and most importantly, set a regular time to train. This regularity is essential in establishing a mental identification, a mindset, and in creating a physical pattern. Applying order from the very beginning will help you develop the power of habit and give substance and discipline to your new undertaking.

Do things haphazardly and you’ll get haphazard results. You’ll miss the fun and fulfillment of completing a tough, focused and intelligent workout. You won’t pump, burn, sweat, or thoroughly overload. No endorphins, no natural chemistry improvement. Sooner than later, without foundation your inspired endeavor will fade into a guilty memory. This is worse than the mumps.

In the early stages, your job is basic. Get to know what resistance and pump and burn are, and above all, practice form, and the rest will surely follow. This requires and develops patience, focus and concentration -- super qualities to add to your list of accomplishments. You might make notations of the weights you use, the reps and sets and a comment or two on a pad as a quick reference from workout to workout. Though this weight lifting stuff is simple, it bears your personality and standards -- it becomes sort of alive to you, you’ll see.

You’re ready to go. Seriously. You’ve got your water bottle at hand. Hydrate and keep hydrated. You’re fully fueled for blast off. Begin your routine by moving around for five minutes before hitting the weights. This will raise your heart rate and core temperature, and help prepare your focus for the workout ahead.

So much for the potatoes, now for the meat. Let’s assume you have the basics: a bar, enough weight, pair of adjustable dumbbells (DBs), a bench maybe, a couple of sturdy high back chairs and a lot of heart. Remember, there is no fast way to build muscle, get strong and lose fat -- only hard work, good food and a lot of time. There are no secrets. There are 50 exercises -- maybe a hundred -- that we can choose. More is not better. Different is not better.

You’ve got one solid hour, three or four days a week. Start with your abdominal warmup and grab your cardio work when you can -- walk, run, play, work hard. Use a superset technique -- that is -- do one exercise followed by another exercise that complements it. For example, Exercise One immediately followed by Exercise Two, pause for a 30-60 second rest and weight adjustment, repeat, and so on for three or four supersets. There’s no rush, just prompt efficiency.

Here are a few workout samples for you, but you’ll adapt to suit your equipment choices as you progress. And don’t forget the value of bodyweight exercises… you can do entire workouts with just bodyweight.

Here’s a more complete description of supersets.

Reassurance: As you get familiar with your routine and workout area, it all will flow and become comfortable. Be attentive and confident. There’s nothing to doubt. You’re doing absolutely the right thing for this time. Stick to your outlined routine for at least four weeks with intensity and confidence. Only then will your body adapt to the consistent overload and build muscle.

During this time you’ll practice, develop form and learn a 100 things I can’t describe, things you’ll discover that will add to your life more than you ever expected.

If you don’t play hard and work hard, plan to add aerobic activity to your schedule three days a week for 15 or 20 minutes. Walking and jogging intervals, steady vigorous bike riding, hiking or swimming. This will increase the fat burning and muscle-building metabolism, improve the health of your heart, lungs and vascular system. All this combines to enhance your energy and endurance to train more effectively.

It’s true. I have no reason to lie to you.

Brother Dave


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