Get Freakin' Started
Muscle & Fitness|January 2019

This time of year, everybody loves to make wildly ambitious fitness resolutions. But the truth is, converting your body from a doughy blob of fat to a sexy slab of muscle is far easier said than done. As much as it takes discipline and hard work, it also requires a solid game plan. Here’s yours.

Shawn Donnelly

STEP 1: DEFINE YOUR GOAL

BEFORE YOU EVER LIFT a dumbbell or buy a pair of crosstraining shoes, figure out what you want. Are you trying to resemble Brad Pitt in Fight Club? Arnold in Commando? Have 20-inch biceps? Define your most important “result goal,” says Jason Selk, director of Enhanced Performance and the former sports psychologist for the St. Louis Cardinals. For best results, make it measurable and set it “realistically high,” rather than crazy high. (Think: 10 to 20% better than you’ve ever done before.) This will help you stay confident throughout the process.

Then write out in great detail what you want to look like. “The more detail, the better,” says Scott Schmaren, a clinical hypnotist and performance coach. Don’t type it up, either; write it by hand (you’re more likely to believe it’s true) and look at it before going to bed, visualizing it as if it’s already your reality.

STEP 2: MAKE THE TIME

ULTIMATELY, YOU’RE TRYING to change your to change your habits. And change is hard. “We have to get our old We have to get our old selves moving in a different direction,” says Timction,” says Tim Zeddies, the former sports psychologist for the Texasogist for the Texas Longhorns. “We have to battle entropy, gravity, inertia, y gravity, inertia, and laziness to get those adaptive juices to flow in our o flow in our favor.” To do this, carve out at least 30 minutes, three or es, three or four times a week, for exercise. Ideally, make it in the morning. “This time is nonnegotiable,” Zeddies says.

STEP 3: FIND THE RIGHT GYM

DON’T SIGN A 12-MONTH contract with the first sweatbox you step into. Instead, pinpoint a few spots within 15 minutes of your home or office and test-drive them. (Most gyms will give you a free day pass.) Once inside, ask members what they think of it. Make sure the locker rooms aren’t cockroach-ridden and that there aren’t long waits for equipment. Then pick the one that’s right for you and your wallet. Remember: This place should excite you.

STEP 4: CHOOSE THE RIGHT ACTIVITY

SURE, PROFESSIONAL BODYBUILDERS have great physiques. But so do soccer players. (See: Ronaldo.) So do MMA fighters, surfers, and cyclists. The point: There are multiple routes to Rippedville. Don’t like CrossFit? Don’t do CrossFit! Love boxing training? Box away. Lean into the activities that turn you on. “The most important thing is that you do something you love,” says Kyra Williams, a CrossFit Level 1 trainer and USA Powerlifting coach. “There are a million ways to lose fat and build muscle. But if you enjoy what you’re doing, you will look forward to it every day, and that’s the key to transformations.”

STEP 5: HIRE A TRAINER (temporarily)

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM MUSCLE & FITNESSView All

7 Things Fitness Insiders Want You To Know

We asked seasoned coaches and trainers in the fitness industry for tips and advice that they wish all their clients and social media followers knew. From dispelling myths about training with injuries to assuming all box gyms suck, your training IQ is all but guaranteed to rise a few points after digesting these tidbits.

3 mins read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020

GRAGE AGAINST THE MACHINES

Fitness entrepreneur James Grage ditched the gym for resistance band workouts to spend more time with his family. Judging by his results, he won’t be returning anytime soon.

4 mins read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020

GO TO BED TIRED

Forget brains, talent, or genetics. For Special Forces operator and former UFC fighter Tim Kennedy, hard work is the most important factor to a rewarding life.

4 mins read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020

FINE ART: CHISELING A COMPETITION-QUALITY UPPER BODY

How physique competitor Osamoje Imoohi shaped his mind and impressive body through fitness.

4 mins read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020

Light Up Your Legs

Juan Morel’s continued quest for bodybuilding’s top prize begins with his killer leg workout.

4 mins read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020

ROMAN'S SECOND REIGN

After being sidelined with leukemia in 2018, WWE Superstar Roman Reigns returned bigger and stronger—both inside and outside the ring.

7 mins read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020

COOL RUNNINGS

To break out of his fitness funk, M&F ’s chief content officer, Zack Zeigler, challenged himself to complete a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon, and a 24-hour, 30-mile Spartan Race all in a week’s time.

1 min read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020

THE FUTURE OF STEROIDS

M&F explores the advancements being made to PEDs, emerging drugs, and what this all means for the future of bodybuilding and other sports

9 mins read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020

BRAIN FOOD

These seven foods will nourish your body and sharpen your mind.

3 mins read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020

THE MODERN RUNNING SHOE...DISSECTED

More innovations have been made in the past decade to the running shoe than ever before, resulting in a product so efficient it was almost banned from all running events. Here are the major changes that have led us to the pinnacle of performance footwear.

5 mins read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020
RELATED STORIES

Bodybuilding Nutrition 101

Class is in session with professor Milos 'The Mind' Sarcev!

10+ mins read
Muscular Development
May 2022

Never Giving Up! With Master Trainer Nhu Trieu

Model @nhu_trieu Photography by Vagabond Art Photography | @vagabond_art_photography PR by Ratnip Productions | @ratnipproductions

6 mins read
Muscle and Fitness Hers South Africa
March 2022

Are Carbohydrates Anabolic?

Carbohydrates alone won't stimulate protein synthesis. The increases in protein synthesis observed from eating a meal are most likely due to the dietary protein content of the meal.

4 mins read
Muscular Development
April 2022

The Butcher Slices Up Thighs

Leg training with brett wilkin

10+ mins read
Muscular Development
April 2022

Active Recovery for the Mind

Your muscles aren’t the only things that need time to rest. Your brain performs better with a little active recovery—but some forms of r&r are better than others.

6 mins read
Men's Health South Africa
March - April 2022

Join the Resistance

Portable. Cheap. Effective. Resistance bands aren’t just for rehab and warming up; they’re potent and versatile strength and power builders

6 mins read
Men's Health South Africa
March - April 2022

Gym of the Month: April Fitness (Updated)

This revamped space has all you need to get fighting fit right now—and in the future.

2 mins read
Men's Health South Africa
March - April 2022

Mind Over Matter

Cover guy Ryan Dugmore is proof that a bulletproof physique starts with an ironclad philosophy.

3 mins read
Men's Health South Africa
March - April 2022

Growth Potential

Optimising the human growth hormone (HGH) can naturally build muscle and cut your gut

5 mins read
Men's Fitness South Africa
March - April 2022

Daisey O'Donnell

From Model to Fitness Influencer to Entrepreneurship Is There anything She Can't Do?

9 mins read
Women Fitness
March 2022