RogueBanana

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Hey guys,

A lot of people are posting that they want to get healthier / lose weight / lift weights / start making good habits prior to entering or while in med school.

So, being the healthy fruit that I am (no pun intended) I decided to make a thread for it!

Anyone else that has experience or tips to share feel free to hop in!

My Experience:

- Kinesiology degree with focus on Biomechanics
- Extensive Exercise Physiology coursework
- Competitive Powerlifter
- 8 years of experience with fitness in general


This thread is gonna cover a few topics:

1- General Wellness, Myths & "Making it work"

2- Popular Routines based on your fitness goals

3- Form and Function

4- Dieting for idiots, people with no time, (Pre)Medical Students

5- Sticking with it





1- General Wellness, Myths & "Making it work":

So before we hop in to the meat of this post, I want to make a note on general wellness. Exercising regularly has been shown to improve mood, reduce depression, help anxiety and improve self confidence. It also helps keep you sane when you have a ridiculously large courseload and your brain needs a break from the impending doom that is medical school.

That being said, if you are clinically depressed, have been diagnosed with, or suspect you have an anxiety disorder, please get help. Exercise will help with your problem, but it is no replacement for real treatments. Many successful doctors are on anti-depressants, and there is no shame in seeking help for a chemical imbalance in your brain.

Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about some fitness "Myths" that you may have heard.

1- Carbs are bad :
They aren't, you need carbs as a fuel source to power your workouts.

2- You need to go hard in the gym to see results:
Nope, small efforts over time are the key to progress. Eventually you will be putting in more effort as you follow a linear progression, but you should never go from zero activity to a 5 day per week plan right out of the gates. This is a recipe for injury and failure.

3- You need to count every calorie you eat to lose weight:

This is a big one, simply replacing foods with healthier options is enough for most people. I'll get more into this when I reach the "diet" section.

4- You need to cut and bulk if you want to get big:
Unless you are a competitive athlete that needs to make weight, you don't need to do this. You are better off eating healthier foods and gaining muscle slowly over time. No need to binge on pop-tarts all winter and then starve yourself in the spring so you can get abs for summer.

5- Women shouldn't lift weights:
This is probably the biggest myth out there. Ladies please, you will not look like a 'roided out bodybuilder if you lift weights! Lifting weights will improve your physique, especially the glutes, which literally every female I have ever trained has asked me to help them grow. Anecdotal evidence I know, but I think most of us want a nice butt.

6- I got this awesome new program from XYZ pro-bodybuilder, I gotta do 20 sets of 20 reps with as heavy weight as possible to grow!:
No. He is on drugs, which is why he can do that kind of volume and grow form it. If you are drug-free, a simple strength routine with a linear progression and some good assistance work will get you where you want to be. If your weightlifting takes more than 90 minutes you are probably doing too much.

7- I need 100$/month of supplements to get fit!
Stop. Get off instagram. Get out of GNC. Do not buy that cleansing tea or muscle 5000 powder. You don't need it. You are much better off eating real, healthy foods instead of getting your nutrition through supplements. For the record, I am the strongest and leanest I have ever been right now and I use exactly 0 suppplements.

Alrighty! If you have more questions, feel free to post them and I'll do my best to debunk the Myths as they come up.


Now "Making it Work" is a highly individualized topic. My point being, if you dislike an activity, you probably will not consistently do it. If you dislike lifting, then don't lift. If you dislike running, don't run. There are plenty of alternative options to get your strength/cardio work in without hating your life. I hate running, but I love swimming, so I swim for my cardio work. I love lifting, but Yoga is also extremely effective for building strength and balance.

Once you have a routine of exercise you enjoy, you still need to "make it work". You need to get your diet in order, you need to sleep enough. You don't get stronger or fitter by exercising. You get stronger and fitter by recovering from exercise. I realize that sleep is a rare luxury in medical school, but you pre-meds have no excuse! Even the medical students can do a better job of scheduling their time to get more sleep. Unless you have rounds or clerkships, you can probably find a way to get a few more minutes in here and there. Your brain and body will thank you by not falling apart at the seams.

Finally, keep a record of your workouts and aim to beat your previous workout by a little bit.

add 2.5 pounds to your lifts, try to take 5-10 seconds off your run time. Holding yourself accountable and tracking your progress will be an invaluable resource during this process!​

2- Popular Routines based on your fitness goals:

There are a ridiculous number of routines out there and the fact of the matter is:

all of them work.

That's right, you read that correctly. If you are doing some kind of planned physical activity with a decent linear progression you will make progress, whether its Yoga or Running or Powerlifting or Olympic Lifting.

Reddit wiki of all popular exercise routines from Cardio to Powerlifting to Bodyweight training :

https://www.reddit.com/r/Fitness/wiki/programs

So, I just gave you a massive list of programs, which one do you choose?

Well that depends on you.

-Trying to build muscle, but don't care about strength?
Then follow one of the Aesthetics or Bodybuilding routines (These routines feature light-moderate weight with higher rep ranges)
The allpro beginner routine is a good mixed program, It'll get you some size and some strength to go with it. I used it to go from 150 pounds bodyweight to 220 without putting much fat on. Keep in mind this took me several years.​
- Trying to get strong without all the bodybuilding fluff?
Pick one of the powerlifting programs.
5x5 , 5/3/1, Untamed Strength's "Best Program Ever" and others like it will get you strong and "fit" looking. The focus here is low reps with heavy weights. Watch your form here and make sure you have a good spotter.​
- Trying to run better?
There's plenty of running programs on the wiki and entire communities of advice.​
If you are lifting weights, you should be doing some kind of cardio regardless of your goal (gain or lose weight)

The heart health benefits are too important to pass up for "gainz bruh". On your rest days, go for a long walk, 30-40 minutes at a comfortable pace. This will help your muscles recover from training, help keep the fat off, and improve your aerobic fitness. Just please do it for your own health.
Many of these programs have their own "Progression Scheme" where they will give you specific instructions on when/how to increase the weight or intensity over time. Follow them.​
Are you trying to lose/gain weight?
This depends almost entirely on your diet. Not your lifiting/cardio routines. Cardio will for sure help the process, as will lifting, but you need to get your diet in order to make progress in either direction.​

3- Form and Function
A routine is no good if you don't preform the exercises required. Its even worse if you do them incorrectly.

Exrx.net is a great resource for exercise form videos and descriptions. They also offer great evidence-based resources for fitness programs and philosophies. If you have a form question, wonder what works vs what doesn't and why, this is your new best friend.

Squat, Bench and Deadlift will be the crux of many good strength routines, these are highly technical lifts, so learn them well with extremely light/ no weight first.

When I began powerlifting I was not allowed to put weight on the bar by my coach until I could execute a rep perfectly. Watch youtube videos, visit exrx.com, just make sure you get the form down before you go charging head-first into a routine and hurt yourself. There are countless resources to consult for form and there's no reason for you to hurt yourself because you wanted to lift a weight too heavy for you to handle.

Runners and Swimmers, you aren't exempt from this. Both sports require technical ability and you should be constantly trying to improve your run/swim form.​

Here are some helpful form videos for those who don't want to see the orthopods any time soon:

How to Squat (Strength Athlete Style)

How to Squat for leg development (Olympic Style)
How to Bench
How to Deadlift
How to Barbell Row
How to Overhead Press
How to Warm-Up in 10 Minutes or Less

4- Dieting

Ahhh Dieting, everyone's favorite topic.

Here's my take on the issue (from the pre-med point of view)

-Your life is gonna be busy. You aren't always gonna be able to make healthy food. You aren't always gonna be able to afford to buy an organic kale salad. Not that any sane person would want to.

The key to a good diet is eating a variety of good foods and cutting down on the junk. Vegetables with every meal, lean proteins, don't neglect carbs.

If you don't have time to cook that's fine! A burger or taco once in a while isn't gonna kill you. Eating some birthday cake isn't gonna make you fat. I'd rather be present and enjoy my holidays and special occasions instead forcing myself to eat broccoli and chicken like some kind of Dietary Martyr. Enjoy your damn life. If your mom makes baller tacos or doughboys then eat them, but make good choices the rest of the day. If your mom makes you your favorite food and you tell her "I can't eat this mom" I will personally figuratively slap you.

Most overweight people can drop those 10-15 pounds by simply swapping junk for healthy food 8 times out of 10. Don't go on a super restrictive diet, don't go on a stupid juice cleanse or a water fast.

Get the chicken sandwich at BK or Wendy's, Taco Bell has a surprising amount of high-protein options that I get when i'm in a bind. (shoutout to the shredded chicken soft taco, ILY)

Stop drinking regular soda. Drink water or Diet (research shows diet soda doesn't cause cancer, I drink it 2-3 times a week)

Watch the fruit juice (they can have a lot of sugar and calories you aren't aware of!)

Cut the alcohol intake down.

Swap out fatty meats for lean ones when you cook, use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. Eat more fish, put olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your salads, eat more veggies. Potatoes are okay! Baked White potatoes are one of the most satiating foods (srs its been published on medline) Sweet potatoes are baller when mashed with cinnamon. You can eat healthy without denying yourself good food. Most of the time, all it takes to make an unhealthy recipe healthy is swapping one or two bad ingredients out. When I'm trying to make weight for a contest, I simply add more veggies and water to my diet. I don't starve myself, and I'm never particularly hungry. I add a little more cardio and it works just fine.

You will find it is very difficult to overeat when your only food choices are healthy, real foods.
Honestly guys, there is no secret formula to this, eat healthy, do your best, and you'll be okay 90% of the time. Enjoy your life and don't go crazy. If you need to lose a few, then add more veggies and fruits and lean proteins. If you wanna gain weight add more healthy fats (walnuts/olive oil FTW). Its not rocket science.​

@partypantss's take on calories:

"As someone who lost over 80 pounds of fat and then bulked up and now looks like a jacked gym bro and also has a B.S. in Kinesiology, I sort of disagree with your de-emphasis of calorie counting. I think MANY people are overweight simply because they are eating TOO MUCH not always that they are just eating unhealthy. If you get in the habit of counting calories, after a while it becomes second nature and takes very little time/ effort to do. Yes, cutting out empty calories in drinks other strategies can help easily reduce your caloric intake, however I believe that simply monitoring your calorie intake is the single most effective thing you can do, and the year before starting medical school is a great chance to do it.

After counting calories for even just a month, you can get a very good sense of where you were going wrong, what foods just aren't worth the calories and what foods you can eat basically as much of as you want. This general sense will be very valuable to people even if they then stop tracking calories. "


*Disclaimer, if you have a dietary restriction such as diabetes, please follow your doctors advice*



5- Sticking with it:


This is the hardest part.

Your program and diet will only work for you if you stick with it. That is the truth.

You are better off starting out small (swapping junk for healthier options, working out ONE or TWO days per week) and keeping that up. Eventually those become habits, your body gets accustomed to it and you can do more.

The biggest mistake I see when I train people is they want to go from doing nothing to doing everything within a month. Your body will not take the shock well, and you will feel sore and crappy and quit.

Start slow, add work in over the course of weeks, start with super light weights and get the form and feel of it down. Start with just making healthier food choices, then add some exercise, as your body gets accustomed to it, add some more. Do activities you enjoy doing, swim, climb, run, hike, bike, lift, box, pose for yoga, do barre or pilates or spin classes. If you don't enjoy it you won't stick with it. You don't need to do a 5 day per week routine to be healthier or lose weight or get stronger. 2-3 days is plenty.

Don't be discouraged if you are bad at something you enjoy. If you enjoy it, and it gets you moving, it's a good choice for you. ( When I started lifting I couldn't even lift the bar ;) )​


If you have questions about anything feel free to ask me or any of the other experienced guys or gals who will hop in on this thread.

Oh and eat more bananas. You need the potassium.

-RogueBanana

*Edit*

Diet section has been updated to include @partypantss's take on calorie counting. Check it out!

*Edit #2*
Form section has been updated to include hyperlinks to form videos.
Overall post has been re-formatted so it reads easier.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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RogueBanana

RogueBanana

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Cotterpin

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I love that you tagged "bananas." Thanks for doing this!
 
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RogueBanana

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Dream_big

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How do you feel about using BCAAs to retain muscle mass during cardio days? I've done some research about being able to preserve the muscle gained from heavy lifting during long periods of cardio, but apparently it's just "bro science" for now..

Curious bc I love lifting but I'm also training for a 1/2 marathon o_O
 
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RogueBanana

RogueBanana

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How do you feel about using BCAAs to retain muscle mass during cardio days? I've done some research about being able to preserve the muscle gained from heavy lifting during long periods of cardio, but apparently it's just "bro science" for now..

Curious bc I love lifting but I'm also training for a 1/2 marathon o_O
The jury is still out on that one, the best advice I can give you to preserve mass during extended cardio is:

A- never train while fasted, get some carbs before you run

B- try to keep your muscle glycogen levels up through the run by sipping a diluted sports drink if your stomach can take it.

If you like Aminos and think they help, feel free to use them. But there's no real evidence they help. That's $30 you could've spent on food or booze or something fun
 
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RogueBanana

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Brah of Science

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How do you feel about using BCAAs to retain muscle mass during cardio days? I've done some research about being able to preserve the muscle gained from heavy lifting during long periods of cardio, but apparently it's just "bro science" for now..

Curious bc I love lifting but I'm also training for a 1/2 marathon o_O
I sometimes use BCAA's for cardio and heavy weight sessions when I'm cutting weight. Some people say they work and some don't. I wouldn't say they are a necessity but they sure are tasty!
 
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How do you feel about using BCAAs to retain muscle mass during cardio days? I've done some research about being able to preserve the muscle gained from heavy lifting during long periods of cardio, but apparently it's just "bro science" for now..

Curious bc I love lifting but I'm also training for a 1/2 marathon o_O
If you already eat a sufficient amount of protein you don't need BCAAs as you'll already get them from or your diet or regular protein powder. They might be useful if you train while in a fasted state but in my experience it doesn't do anything.
 
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pandorasbox

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A big thing I'd also add for the diet part is portion sizes! One slice of cake will not do anything at a party, however if you binge it will make a difference. A lot of people get into a pattern of denying themselves something and then going crazy one day and justifying it. As long as you eat the right amount of whatever you want and need you don't need to stop yourself from eating things you also enjoy.


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
 

partypantss

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How do you feel about using BCAAs to retain muscle mass during cardio days? I've done some research about being able to preserve the muscle gained from heavy lifting during long periods of cardio, but apparently it's just "bro science" for now..

Curious bc I love lifting but I'm also training for a 1/2 marathon o_O
I personally like to take BCAAs when I lift first thing in the morning and haven't had anything to eat. However, I think getting some full protein in either by eating a bar or having some powder would be just as or more effective. BCAAs are a waste if you already recently had a sufficient amount of protein. Also, BCAAs are expensive.

If you are doing a lot of long distance running unfortunately it can be very difficult to avoid losing ANY muscle gainz. The best way to minimize loss in gainz is to make sure you are having plenty of carbs the day before your runs and always be eating lots and lots of protein.
 
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Dream_big

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The jury is still out on that one, the best advice I can give you to preserve mass during extended cardio is:

A- never train while fasted, get some carbs before you run

B- try to keep your muscle glycogen levels up through the run by sipping a diluted sports drink if your stomach can take it.

If you like Aminos and think they help, feel free to use them. But there's no real evidence they help. That's $30 you could've spent on food or booze or something fun
I sometimes use BCAA's for cardio and heavy weight sessions when I'm cutting weight. Some people say they work and some don't. I wouldn't say they are a necessity but they sure are tasty!
If you already eat a sufficient amount of protein you don't need BCAAs as you'll already get them from or your diet or regular protein powder. They might be useful if you train while in a fasted state but in my experience it doesn't do anything.
I personally like to take BCAAs when I lift first thing in the morning and haven't had anything to eat. However, I think getting some full protein in either by eating a bar or having some powder would be just as or more effective. BCAAs are a waste if you already recently had a sufficient amount of protein. Also, BCAAs are expensive.

If you are doing a lot of long distance running unfortunately it can be very difficult to avoid losing ANY muscle gainz. The best way to minimize loss in gainz is to make sure you are having plenty of carbs the day before your runs and always be eating lots and lots of protein.
Thanks for all the responses! I didn't pay for this one (and only) tub and don't think I ever will purchase one myself. I'll load up on carbs and up my protein intake the day before my runs & try sipping on some diluted Gatorade the day of (great simple advice btw)
 

partypantss

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Hey guys,

A lot of people are posting that they want to get healthier / lose weight / lift weights / start making good habits prior to entering or while in med school.

So, being the healthy fruit that I am (no pun intended) I decided to make a thread for it!

Anyone else that has experience or tips to share feel free to hop in!

My Experience:

- Kinesiology degree with focus on Biomechanics
- Extensive Exercise Physiology coursework
- Competitive Powerlifter
- 8 years of experience with fitness in general


This thread is gonna cover a few topics:

1- General Wellness, Myths & "Making it work"

2- Popular Routines based on your fitness goals

3- Form and Function

4- Dieting for idiots, people with no time, (Pre)Medical Students

5- Sticking with it





1- General Wellness, Myths & "Making it work":

So before we hop in to the meat of this post, I want to make a note on general wellness. Exercising regularly has been shown to improve mood, reduce depression, help anxiety and improve self confidence. It also helps keep you sane when you have a ridiculously large courseload and your brain needs a break from the impending doom that is medical school.

That being said, if you are clinically depressed, have been diagnosed with, or suspect you have an anxiety disorder, please get help. Exercise will help with your problem, but it is no replacement for real treatments. Many successful doctors are on anti-depressants, and there is no shame in seeking help for a chemical imbalance in your brain.

Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about some fitness "Myths" that you may have heard.

1- Carbs are bad :
They aren't, you need carbs as a fuel source to power your workouts.

2- You need to go hard in the gym to see results:
Nope, small efforts over time are the key to progress. Eventually you will be putting in more effort as you follow a linear progression, but you should never go from zero activity to a 5 day per week plan right out of the gates. This is a recipe for injury and failure.

3- You need to count every calorie you eat to lose weight:
This is a big one, simply replacing foods with healthier options is enough for most people. I'll get more into this when I reach the "diet" section.

4- You need to cut and bulk if you want to get big:
Unless you are a competitive athlete that needs to make weight, you don't need to do this. You are better off eating healthier foods and gaining muscle slowly over time. No need to binge on pop-tarts all winter and then starve yourself in the spring so you can get abs for summer.

5- Women shouldn't lift weights:
This is probably the biggest myth out there. Ladies please, you will not look like a 'roided out bodybuilder if you lift weights! Lifting weights will improve your physique, especially the glutes, which literally every female I have ever trained has asked me to help them grow. Anecdotal evidence I know, but I think most of us want a nice butt.

6- I got this awesome new program from XYZ pro-bodybuilder, I gotta do 20 sets of 20 reps with as heavy weight as possible to grow!:
No. He is on drugs, which is why he can do that kind of volume and grow form it. If you are drug-free, a simple strength routine with a linear progression and some good assistance work will get you where you want to be. If your weightlifting takes more than 90 minutes you are probably doing too much.

7- I need 100$/month of supplements to get fit!
Stop. Get off instagram. Get out of GNC. Do not buy that cleansing tea or muscle 5000 powder. You don't need it. You are much better off eating real, healthy foods instead of getting your nutrition through supplements. For the record, I am the strongest and leanest I have ever been right now and I use exactly 0 suppplements.

Alrighty! If you have more questions, feel free to post them and I'll do my best to debunk the Myths as they come up.


Now "Making it Work" is a highly individualized topic. My point being, if you dislike an activity, you probably will not consistently do it. If you dislike lifting, then don't lift. If you dislike running, don't run. There are plenty of alternative options to get your strength/cardio work in without hating your life. I hate running, but I love swimming, so I swim for my cardio work. I love lifting, but Yoga is also extremely effective for building strength and balance.

Once you have a routine of exercise you enjoy, you still need to "make it work". You need to get your diet in order, you need to sleep enough. You don't get stronger or fitter by exercising. You get stronger and fitter by recovering from exercise. I realize that sleep is a rare luxury in medical school, but you pre-meds have no excuse! Even the medical students can do a better job of scheduling their time to get more sleep. Unless you have rounds or clerkships, you can probably find a way to get a few more minutes in here and there. Your brain and body will thank you by not falling apart at the seams.

Finally, keep a record of your workouts and aim to beat your previous workout by a little bit.

add 2.5 pounds to your lifts, try to take 5-10 seconds off your run time. Holding yourself accountable and tracking your progress will be an invaluable resource during this process!

2- Popular Routines based on your fitness goals:

There are a ridiculous number of routines out there and the fact of the matter is:

all of them work.

That's right, you read that correctly. If you are doing some kind of planned physical activity with a decent linear progression you will make progress, whether its Yoga or Running or Powerlifting or Olympic Lifting.

Reddit wiki of all popular exercise routines from Cardio to Powerlifting to Bodyweight training :

https://www.reddit.com/r/Fitness/wiki/programs

So, I just gave you a massive list of programs, which one do you choose?

Well that depends on you.

-Trying to build muscle, but don't care about strength?
Then follow one of the Aesthetics or Bodybuilding routines (These routines feature light-moderate weight with higher rep ranges)
The allpro beginner routine is a good mixed program, It'll get you some size and some strength to go with it. I used it to go from 150 pounds bodyweight to 220 without putting much fat on.

- Trying to get strong without all the bodybuilding fluff?
Pick one of the powerlifting programs.
5x5 , 5/3/1, Untamed Strength's "Best Program Ever" and others like it will get you strong and "fit" looking. The focus here is low reps with heavy weights. Watch your form here and make sure you have a good spotter.

- Trying to run better? There's plenty of running programs on the wiki and entire communities of advice.

If you are lifting weights, you should be doing some kind of cardio regardless of your goal (gain or lose weight)

The heart health benefits are too important to pass up for "gainz bruh". On your rest days, go for a long walk, 30-40 minutes at a comfortable pace. This will help your muscles recover from training, help keep the fat off, and improve your aerobic fitness. Just please do it for your own health.

Many of these programs have their own "Progression Scheme" where they will give you specific instructions on when/how to increase the weight or intensity over time. Follow them.

Are you trying to lose/gain weight?
This depends almost entirely on your diet. Not your lifiting/cardio routines. Cardio will for sure help the process, as will lifting, but you need to get your diet in order to make progress in either direction.


3- Form and Function
A routine is no good if you don't preform the exercises required. Its even worse if you do them incorrectly.

Exrx.net is a great resource for exercise form videos and descriptions. They also offer great evidence-based resources for fitness programs and philosophies. If you have a form question, wonder what works vs what doesn't and why, this is your new best friend.

Squat, Bench and Deadlift will be the crux of many good strength routines, these are highly technical lifts, so learn them well with extremely light/ no weight first.

When I began powerlifting I was not allowed to put weight on the bar by my coach until I could execute a rep perfectly. Watch youtube videos, visit exrx.com, just make sure you get the form down before you go charging head-first into a routine and hurt yourself. There are countless resources to consult for form and there's no reason for you to hurt yourself because you wanted to lift a weight for you to handle.

Runners and Swimmers, you aren't exempt from this. Both sports require technical ability and you should be constantly trying to improve your run/swim form.


4- Dieting

Ahhh Dieting, everyone's favorite topic.

Here's my take on the issue (from the pre-med point of view)

-Your life is gonna be busy. You aren't always gonna be able to make healthy food. You aren't always gonna be able to afford to buy an organic kale salad. Not that any sane person would want to.

The key to a good diet is eating a variety of good foods and cutting down on the junk. Vegetables with every meal, lean proteins, don't neglect carbs.

If you don't have time to cook that's fine! A burger or taco once in a while isn't gonna kill you. Eating some birthday cake isn't gonna make you fat. I'd rather be present and enjoy my holidays and special occasions instead forcing myself to eat broccoli and chicken like some kind of Dietary Martyr. Enjoy your damn life. If your mom makes baller tacos or doughboys then eat them, but make good choices the rest of the day. If your mom makes you your favorite food and you tell her "I can't eat this mom" I will personally figuratively slap you.

Most overweight people can drop those 10-15 pounds by simply swapping junk for healthy food 8 times out of 10. Don't go on a super restrictive diet, don't go on a stupid juice cleanse or a water fast.

Get the chicken sandwich at BK or Wendy's, Taco Bell has a surprising amount of high-protein options that I get when i'm in a bind. (shoutout to the shredded chicken soft taco, ILY)

Stop drinking regular soda. Drink water or Diet (research shows diet soda doesn't cause cancer, I drink it 2-3 times a week)

Watch the fruit juice (they can have a lot of sugar and calories you aren't aware of!)

Cut the alcohol intake down.

Swap out fatty meats for lean ones when you cook, use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. Eat more fish, put olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your salads, eat more veggies. Potatoes are okay! Baked White potatoes are one of the most satiating foods (srs its been published on medline) Sweet potatoes are baller when mashed with cinnamon. You can eat healthy without denying yourself good food. Most of the time, all it takes to make an unhealthy recipe healthy is swapping one or two bad ingredients out. When I'm trying to make weight for a contest, I simply add more veggies and water to my diet. I don't starve myself, and I'm never particularly hungry. I add a little more cardio and it works just fine.

You will find it is very difficult to overeat when your only food choices are healthy, real foods.

*Disclaimer, if you have a dietary restriction such as diabetes, please follow your doctors advice*

Honestly guys, there is no secret formula to this, eat healthy, do your best, and you'll be okay 90% of the time. Enjoy your life and don't go crazy. If you need to lose a few, then add more veggies and fruits and lean proteins. If you wanna gain weight add more healthy fats (walnuts/olive oil FTW). Its not rocket science.


5- Sticking with it:


This is the hardest part.

Your program and diet will only work for you if you stick with it. That is the truth.

You are better off starting out small (swapping junk for healthier options, working out ONE or TWO days per week) and keeping that up. Eventually those become habits, your body gets accustomed to it and you can do more.

The biggest mistake I see when I train people is they want to go from doing nothing to doing everything within a month. Your body will not take the shock well, and you will feel sore and crappy and quit.

Start slow, add work in over the course of weeks, start with super light weights and get the form and feel of it down. Start with just making healthier food choices, then add some exercise, as your body gets accustomed to it, add some more. Do activities you enjoy doing, swim, climb, run, hike, bike, lift, box, pose for yoga, do barre or pilates or spin classes. If you don't enjoy it you won't stick with it. You don't need to do a 5 day per week routine to be healthier or lose weight or get stronger. 2-3 days is plenty.

Don't be discouraged if you are bad at something you enjoy. If you enjoy it, and it gets you moving, it's a good choice for you. ( When I started lifting I couldn't even lift the bar ;) )


If you have questions about anything feel free to ask me or any of the other experienced guys who will hop in on this thread.

Oh and eat more bananas. You need the potassium.

-RogueBanana
I have one disagreement after skimming through your post. As someone who lost over 80 pounds of fat and then bulked up and now looks like a jacked gym bro and also has a B.S. in Kinesiology, I sort of disagree with your de-emphasis of calorie counting. I think MANY people are overweight simply because they are eating TOO MUCH not always that they are just eating unhealthy. If you get in the habit of counting calories, after a while it becomes second nature and takes very little time/ effort to do. Yes, cutting out empty calories in drinks other strategies can help easily reduce your caloric intake, however I believe that simply monitoring your calorie intake is the single most effective thing you can do, and the year before starting medical school is a great chance to do it.

After counting calories for even just a month, you can get a very good sense of where you were going wrong, what foods just aren't worth the calories and what foods you can eat basically as much of as you want. This general sense will be very valuable to people even if they then stop tracking calories.
 
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I have one disagreement after skimming through your post. As someone who lost over 80 pounds of fat and then bulked up and now looks like a jacked gym bro and also has a B.S. in Kinesiology, I sort of disagree with your de-emphasis of calorie counting. I think MANY people are overweight simply because they are eating TOO MUCH not always that they are just eating unhealthy. If you get in the habit of counting calories, after a while it becomes second nature and takes very little time/ effort to do. Yes, cutting out empty calories in drinks other strategies can help easily reduce your caloric intake, however I believe that simply monitoring your calorie intake is the single most effective thing you can do, and the year before starting medical school is a great chance to do it.

After counting calories for even just a month, you can get a very good sense of where you were going wrong, what foods just aren't worth the calories and what foods you can eat basically as much of as you want. This general sense will be very valuable to people even if they then stop tracking calories.
In a normal population I would agree with you, but the last thing I want to be doing in Med school is wondering if I hit exactly enough calories that day and record my food intake.

Yes, it is massively effective for severely overweight people, my advice was geared more towards losing the casual 10-20 pounds while remaining mentally healthy. If there is a significant amount of weight to be lost or gained I agree with you 100%
 
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I have one disagreement after skimming through your post. As someone who lost over 80 pounds of fat and then bulked up and now looks like a jacked gym bro and also has a B.S. in Kinesiology, I sort of disagree with your de-emphasis of calorie counting. I think MANY people are overweight simply because they are eating TOO MUCH not always that they are just eating unhealthy. If you get in the habit of counting calories, after a while it becomes second nature and takes very little time/ effort to do. Yes, cutting out empty calories in drinks other strategies can help easily reduce your caloric intake, however I believe that simply monitoring your calorie intake is the single most effective thing you can do, and the year before starting medical school is a great chance to do it.

After counting calories for even just a month, you can get a very good sense of where you were going wrong, what foods just aren't worth the calories and what foods you can eat basically as much of as you want. This general sense will be very valuable to people even if they then stop tracking calories.
Wouldn't there be an easier way of controlling portion size than the rudimental task of counting calories for every meal, every snack and every sip of every drink?
I can see how this would be helpful for some that need a strict plan, but what about those that can't seem to wrap their head around figuring out how many calories they just ate with that bite of chocolate lava cake their friend made them try?

Edit: word
 
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Wouldn't there be an easier way of controlling portion size than the rudimental task of counting calories for every meal, every snack and every sip of every drink?
I can see how this would be helpful for some that need a strict plan, but what about those that can't seem to wrap their head around figuring out how many calories they just ate with that bite of chocolate lava cake their friend made them try?

Edit: word
Well thats the thing, the measurement changes the results. It's like the physics principle. By forcing yourself to calorie count, you keep yourself from eating that random bite of lava cake. I'm not saying you need a strict plan, but it's easy enough to estimate the calories without even looking anything up after doing it for a little while. Like I said, you get a sense. I personally never even followed a "strict plan" I just tried to keep my total calories within a certain range and would roughly estimate a lot of the time.
 
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Also for the record, my current "stats" if you will:

Body weight ~200 pounds (I like to compete in 205 pound weight class) I'll probably gain 5-10 more and cut back down before my next meet.

Lifts:

Squat: 350 pretty crap tbh, I'm tall as heck but I'm working on it)

Bench: 315

deadlift: 450

I don't use wraps or a bench shirt, straps on deadlift if the bar is slippy.
 
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In a normal population I would agree with you, but the last thing I want to be doing in Med school is wondering if I hit exactly enough calories that day and record my food intake.

Yes, it is massively effective for severely overweight people, my advice was geared more towards losing the casual 10-20 pounds while remaining mentally healthy. If there is a significant amount of weight to be lost or gained I agree with you 100%
I guess we will agree to disagree then. I'm not saying people should try to precisely track their exact caloric intake during med school and hit an exact goal every day, I'm just saying that by putting in some effort now before medical school, people can get a much better idea of the calories in the things they regularly eat and simply ways they can reduce their total intake.

I have been a healthy weight for over five years now, but I still find the occasional calorie counting useful, since it is revealing of ways I can cut out extraneous calories and reinforces my general senses of the calorie content of various foods. It's a good life skill to have for long term health IMO.
 

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The jury is still out on that one, the best advice I can give you to preserve mass during extended cardio is:

A- never train while fasted, get some carbs before you run

B- try to keep your muscle glycogen levels up through the run by sipping a diluted sports drink if your stomach can take it.

If you like Aminos and think they help, feel free to use them. But there's no real evidence they help. That's $30 you could've spent on food or booze or something fun
I second this. Not enough evidence for bcaas. I kept pretty much all of my muscle mass while training for both a tri and a marathon by 1. Lifting and 2. Eating enough. Do that, and you're about 95% of the way covered.
 
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I guess we will agree to disagree then. I'm not saying people should try to precisely track their exact caloric intake during med school and hit an exact goal every day, I'm just saying that by putting in some effort now before medical school, people can get a much better idea of the calories in the things they regularly eat and simply ways they can reduce their total intake.

I have been a healthy weight for over five years now, but I still find the occasional calorie counting useful, since it is revealing of ways I can cut out extraneous calories and reinforces my general senses of the calorie content of various foods. It's a good life skill to have for long term health IMO.
I see what you're saying, I used to count calories and it definitely helped me gain better awareness of portion sizes. I didn't realize it because it's so second nature of me at this point. I forget that many people don't have the same experience to know what foods to avoid because they've never counted calories.

Fair point, count cals (at least roughly) does have a tangible benefit.
 
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I guess we will agree to disagree then. I'm not saying people should try to precisely track their exact caloric intake during med school and hit an exact goal every day, I'm just saying that by putting in some effort now before medical school, people can get a much better idea of the calories in the things they regularly eat and simply ways they can reduce their total intake.

I have been a healthy weight for over five years now, but I still find the occasional calorie counting useful, since it is revealing of ways I can cut out extraneous calories and reinforces my general senses of the calorie content of various foods. It's a good life skill to have for long term health IMO.
I appreciate your feedback. The more contributions like this people make the better the thread will be overall. Thanks!
 
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How much booze is too much booze?
Depends who you ask.

Having a beer or two with dinner or friends won't hurt you. Ditto hard alcohol.

Chugging Franzia, sugary mixed drinks and jungle juice will get you good if you aren't careful.
 
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Also for the record, my current "stats" if you will:

Body weight ~200 pounds (I like to compete in 205 pound weight class) I'll probably gain 5-10 more and cut back down before my next meet.

Lifts:

Squat: 350 pretty crap tbh, I'm tall as heck but I'm working on it)

Bench: 315

deadlift: 450

I don't use wraps or a bench shirt, straps on deadlift if the bar is slippy.
How did you improve your bench? I've been stuck at 265 for a while.
 

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For the AllPro routine, how long were your gym sessions? I'm interested in giving it a shot
 
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How much booze is too much booze?
Some people would say any alcohol is too much. It's an easy way to consume a lot of empty calories and it can hurt your recovery after working out. In my opinion college is a time to be going out and partying when you do plan on getting drunk account for it by consuming less calories beforehand(don't starve yourself though!) and then I stick to hard liquor or mixing with diet soda.
 

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3- Form and Function
A routine is no good if you don't preform the exercises required. Its even worse if you do them incorrectly.
I was doing squats with improper form six months ago and heard a "pop" in my knee - every once in a while it still catches and I feel the pain from that one bad rep.

Don't make my mistake. Make sure that you have the form down perfectly for any exercise before you add ANY weight on. @RogueBanana is 100% accurate with this.
 
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How did you improve your bench? I've been stuck at 265 for a while.
I 5x5 with a focus on good form. My biggest strength increases came when I started to follow the "west side barbell" bench mentality. I learned to bench with my Triceps instead of my chest.

Basically;

1- fix your bench grip, put it over the meat of your palm closer to your wrist. If the bar is out closer to the base of your fingers, it puts the stress on your anterior delts.

2- do heavy sets of 1/2 reps with 80-90% of 1rm
Use the new grip and really "feel" your triceps. Try to contract them as much as possible during lockout


3- overload the triceps, do supersets of cable pushdowns, do heavy close grip benches.


These tips made the biggest increase in my bench. Also make sure you're sleeping and eating enough.

*EDIT*

Alan Thrall (untamed strength on YouTube) has a great bench tutorial. Even if you already know how to bench it gives some great tips. Also make sure you're squeezing your lats and getting tight under the bar.
 
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For the AllPro routine, how long were your gym sessions? I'm interested in giving it a shot
So at first you start light, it takes 45-1hr

Once the weights get up there (heavy day isn't fun) the rest between sets will increase and you can expect to be there about an hour on average, sometimes more. As your weights and strength increase, sleep and diet become much more important because heavy high rep work like that can burn you out quick. Watch your recovery, sleep good and eat good and you should never be more than 1:30. Usually closer to 1 hour. If you end up doing the routine and have questions for me feel free to pm! I did it for almost 2 years straight so I'm an expert on it at this point...
 
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Wendler 5/3/1 Boring but big was by far my favorite. Strength gainz for days!
 
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Hey guys,

A lot of people are posting that they want to get healthier / lose weight / lift weights / start making good habits prior to entering or while in med school.

So, being the healthy fruit that I am (no pun intended) I decided to make a thread for it!

Anyone else that has experience or tips to share feel free to hop in!

My Experience:

- Kinesiology degree with focus on Biomechanics
- Extensive Exercise Physiology coursework
- Competitive Powerlifter
- 8 years of experience with fitness in general


This thread is gonna cover a few topics:

1- General Wellness, Myths & "Making it work"

2- Popular Routines based on your fitness goals

3- Form and Function

4- Dieting for idiots, people with no time, (Pre)Medical Students

5- Sticking with it





1- General Wellness, Myths & "Making it work":

So before we hop in to the meat of this post, I want to make a note on general wellness. Exercising regularly has been shown to improve mood, reduce depression, help anxiety and improve self confidence. It also helps keep you sane when you have a ridiculously large courseload and your brain needs a break from the impending doom that is medical school.

That being said, if you are clinically depressed, have been diagnosed with, or suspect you have an anxiety disorder, please get help. Exercise will help with your problem, but it is no replacement for real treatments. Many successful doctors are on anti-depressants, and there is no shame in seeking help for a chemical imbalance in your brain.

Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about some fitness "Myths" that you may have heard.

1- Carbs are bad :
They aren't, you need carbs as a fuel source to power your workouts.

2- You need to go hard in the gym to see results:
Nope, small efforts over time are the key to progress. Eventually you will be putting in more effort as you follow a linear progression, but you should never go from zero activity to a 5 day per week plan right out of the gates. This is a recipe for injury and failure.

3- You need to count every calorie you eat to lose weight:
This is a big one, simply replacing foods with healthier options is enough for most people. I'll get more into this when I reach the "diet" section.

4- You need to cut and bulk if you want to get big:
Unless you are a competitive athlete that needs to make weight, you don't need to do this. You are better off eating healthier foods and gaining muscle slowly over time. No need to binge on pop-tarts all winter and then starve yourself in the spring so you can get abs for summer.

5- Women shouldn't lift weights:
This is probably the biggest myth out there. Ladies please, you will not look like a 'roided out bodybuilder if you lift weights! Lifting weights will improve your physique, especially the glutes, which literally every female I have ever trained has asked me to help them grow. Anecdotal evidence I know, but I think most of us want a nice butt.

6- I got this awesome new program from XYZ pro-bodybuilder, I gotta do 20 sets of 20 reps with as heavy weight as possible to grow!:
No. He is on drugs, which is why he can do that kind of volume and grow form it. If you are drug-free, a simple strength routine with a linear progression and some good assistance work will get you where you want to be. If your weightlifting takes more than 90 minutes you are probably doing too much.

7- I need 100$/month of supplements to get fit!
Stop. Get off instagram. Get out of GNC. Do not buy that cleansing tea or muscle 5000 powder. You don't need it. You are much better off eating real, healthy foods instead of getting your nutrition through supplements. For the record, I am the strongest and leanest I have ever been right now and I use exactly 0 suppplements.

Alrighty! If you have more questions, feel free to post them and I'll do my best to debunk the Myths as they come up.


Now "Making it Work" is a highly individualized topic. My point being, if you dislike an activity, you probably will not consistently do it. If you dislike lifting, then don't lift. If you dislike running, don't run. There are plenty of alternative options to get your strength/cardio work in without hating your life. I hate running, but I love swimming, so I swim for my cardio work. I love lifting, but Yoga is also extremely effective for building strength and balance.

Once you have a routine of exercise you enjoy, you still need to "make it work". You need to get your diet in order, you need to sleep enough. You don't get stronger or fitter by exercising. You get stronger and fitter by recovering from exercise. I realize that sleep is a rare luxury in medical school, but you pre-meds have no excuse! Even the medical students can do a better job of scheduling their time to get more sleep. Unless you have rounds or clerkships, you can probably find a way to get a few more minutes in here and there. Your brain and body will thank you by not falling apart at the seams.

Finally, keep a record of your workouts and aim to beat your previous workout by a little bit.

add 2.5 pounds to your lifts, try to take 5-10 seconds off your run time. Holding yourself accountable and tracking your progress will be an invaluable resource during this process!

2- Popular Routines based on your fitness goals:

There are a ridiculous number of routines out there and the fact of the matter is:

all of them work.

That's right, you read that correctly. If you are doing some kind of planned physical activity with a decent linear progression you will make progress, whether its Yoga or Running or Powerlifting or Olympic Lifting.

Reddit wiki of all popular exercise routines from Cardio to Powerlifting to Bodyweight training :

https://www.reddit.com/r/Fitness/wiki/programs

So, I just gave you a massive list of programs, which one do you choose?

Well that depends on you.

-Trying to build muscle, but don't care about strength?
Then follow one of the Aesthetics or Bodybuilding routines (These routines feature light-moderate weight with higher rep ranges)
The allpro beginner routine is a good mixed program, It'll get you some size and some strength to go with it. I used it to go from 150 pounds bodyweight to 220 without putting much fat on.

- Trying to get strong without all the bodybuilding fluff?
Pick one of the powerlifting programs.
5x5 , 5/3/1, Untamed Strength's "Best Program Ever" and others like it will get you strong and "fit" looking. The focus here is low reps with heavy weights. Watch your form here and make sure you have a good spotter.

- Trying to run better? There's plenty of running programs on the wiki and entire communities of advice.

If you are lifting weights, you should be doing some kind of cardio regardless of your goal (gain or lose weight)

The heart health benefits are too important to pass up for "gainz bruh". On your rest days, go for a long walk, 30-40 minutes at a comfortable pace. This will help your muscles recover from training, help keep the fat off, and improve your aerobic fitness. Just please do it for your own health.

Many of these programs have their own "Progression Scheme" where they will give you specific instructions on when/how to increase the weight or intensity over time. Follow them.

Are you trying to lose/gain weight?
This depends almost entirely on your diet. Not your lifiting/cardio routines. Cardio will for sure help the process, as will lifting, but you need to get your diet in order to make progress in either direction.


3- Form and Function
A routine is no good if you don't preform the exercises required. Its even worse if you do them incorrectly.

Exrx.net is a great resource for exercise form videos and descriptions. They also offer great evidence-based resources for fitness programs and philosophies. If you have a form question, wonder what works vs what doesn't and why, this is your new best friend.

Squat, Bench and Deadlift will be the crux of many good strength routines, these are highly technical lifts, so learn them well with extremely light/ no weight first.

When I began powerlifting I was not allowed to put weight on the bar by my coach until I could execute a rep perfectly. Watch youtube videos, visit exrx.com, just make sure you get the form down before you go charging head-first into a routine and hurt yourself. There are countless resources to consult for form and there's no reason for you to hurt yourself because you wanted to lift a weight for you to handle.

Runners and Swimmers, you aren't exempt from this. Both sports require technical ability and you should be constantly trying to improve your run/swim form.


4- Dieting

Ahhh Dieting, everyone's favorite topic.

Here's my take on the issue (from the pre-med point of view)

-Your life is gonna be busy. You aren't always gonna be able to make healthy food. You aren't always gonna be able to afford to buy an organic kale salad. Not that any sane person would want to.

The key to a good diet is eating a variety of good foods and cutting down on the junk. Vegetables with every meal, lean proteins, don't neglect carbs.

If you don't have time to cook that's fine! A burger or taco once in a while isn't gonna kill you. Eating some birthday cake isn't gonna make you fat. I'd rather be present and enjoy my holidays and special occasions instead forcing myself to eat broccoli and chicken like some kind of Dietary Martyr. Enjoy your damn life. If your mom makes baller tacos or doughboys then eat them, but make good choices the rest of the day. If your mom makes you your favorite food and you tell her "I can't eat this mom" I will personally figuratively slap you.

Most overweight people can drop those 10-15 pounds by simply swapping junk for healthy food 8 times out of 10. Don't go on a super restrictive diet, don't go on a stupid juice cleanse or a water fast.

Get the chicken sandwich at BK or Wendy's, Taco Bell has a surprising amount of high-protein options that I get when i'm in a bind. (shoutout to the shredded chicken soft taco, ILY)

Stop drinking regular soda. Drink water or Diet (research shows diet soda doesn't cause cancer, I drink it 2-3 times a week)

Watch the fruit juice (they can have a lot of sugar and calories you aren't aware of!)

Cut the alcohol intake down.

Swap out fatty meats for lean ones when you cook, use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. Eat more fish, put olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your salads, eat more veggies. Potatoes are okay! Baked White potatoes are one of the most satiating foods (srs its been published on medline) Sweet potatoes are baller when mashed with cinnamon. You can eat healthy without denying yourself good food. Most of the time, all it takes to make an unhealthy recipe healthy is swapping one or two bad ingredients out. When I'm trying to make weight for a contest, I simply add more veggies and water to my diet. I don't starve myself, and I'm never particularly hungry. I add a little more cardio and it works just fine.

You will find it is very difficult to overeat when your only food choices are healthy, real foods.

*Disclaimer, if you have a dietary restriction such as diabetes, please follow your doctors advice*

Honestly guys, there is no secret formula to this, eat healthy, do your best, and you'll be okay 90% of the time. Enjoy your life and don't go crazy. If you need to lose a few, then add more veggies and fruits and lean proteins. If you wanna gain weight add more healthy fats (walnuts/olive oil FTW). Its not rocket science.


5- Sticking with it:


This is the hardest part.

Your program and diet will only work for you if you stick with it. That is the truth.

You are better off starting out small (swapping junk for healthier options, working out ONE or TWO days per week) and keeping that up. Eventually those become habits, your body gets accustomed to it and you can do more.

The biggest mistake I see when I train people is they want to go from doing nothing to doing everything within a month. Your body will not take the shock well, and you will feel sore and crappy and quit.

Start slow, add work in over the course of weeks, start with super light weights and get the form and feel of it down. Start with just making healthier food choices, then add some exercise, as your body gets accustomed to it, add some more. Do activities you enjoy doing, swim, climb, run, hike, bike, lift, box, pose for yoga, do barre or pilates or spin classes. If you don't enjoy it you won't stick with it. You don't need to do a 5 day per week routine to be healthier or lose weight or get stronger. 2-3 days is plenty.

Don't be discouraged if you are bad at something you enjoy. If you enjoy it, and it gets you moving, it's a good choice for you. ( When I started lifting I couldn't even lift the bar ;) )


If you have questions about anything feel free to ask me or any of the other experienced guys who will hop in on this thread.

Oh and eat more bananas. You need the potassium.

-RogueBanana
do you have a tl;dr version? ;)
 

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do you have a tl;dr version? ;)
But srs


Tl;dr


Eat good, sleep good, work hard, use good form. Any routine will work using these guidelines. Lots of small things done well will add up over time so be consistent. Eat more bananas.

*mic drop*
 

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Who has the highest total on SDN? Please post weight class and breakdown of lifts! this should be interesting...
 
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You already know it all Buff
Literally this how I feel when I walk into a supplement store. Especially when I use to shop at the supp store that I use to work at as a teen. They still hire the fresh out of HS kids lol.
 
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Oh god, it's like college incarnated into one line.
Honestly this effects the ladies more than males. Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing a 90 pound freshman polish off an entire bottle of Andre and then slam 3 cups of jungle juice.
I hear the diabeetus guy in my head every time
 
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Literally this how I feel when I walk into a supplement store. Especially when I use to shop at the supp store that I use to work at as teen. They still hire the fresh out of HS kids lol.
This hits me on a spiritual level. I hate it when high schoolers try to sell me the latest cell tech claiming the guys on the label are natty
 
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Who has the highest total on SDN? Please post weight class and breakdown of lifts! this should be interesting...
Weight: 130 soaking wet
Bench: 405
Squat: 495
Deadlift: 585

Don't believe me? Ask this guy.
 

The Buff OP

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This hits me on a spiritual level. I hate it when high schoolers try to sell me the latest cell tech claiming the guys on the label are natty
I remember that was me, but they made us push a company that the owner of the store partially owned. Cell tech lmao! Is their protein still filled with tons of sugar? My little brother is just getting into lifting and he wanted Mass Tech for Christmas.
 
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RogueBanana

RogueBanana

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I remember that was me, but they made us push a company that the owner of the store partially owned. Cell tech lmao! Is their protein still filled with tons of sugar? My little brother is just getting into lifting and he wanted Mass Tech for Christmas.
I'm pretty sure they nitro spike it with collagen and keratin so the protein count reads higher than it actually is. There's probably only 10 grams of actual whey protein per scoop. Stuff is trash
 
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Brah of Science

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Better than 5x5?
I'm playing around with a 5x5 on my major lifts right now. I like it, but I enjoyed the rep scheme of the 5/3/1. Plus with boring but big, you get to add in more volume with all the major lifts(which I am a fan of).
 
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RogueBanana

RogueBanana

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Weight: 130 soaking wet
Bench: 405
Squat: 495
Deadlift: 585

Don't believe me? Ask this guy.
Any squat tips for me? I can't seem to find a groove the same way I can with bench and deadlifts. I think I'm not bracing hard enough...
 
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Hey guys,

A lot of people are posting that they want to get healthier / lose weight / lift weights / start making good habits prior to entering or while in med school.

So, being the healthy fruit that I am (no pun intended) I decided to make a thread for it!

Anyone else that has experience or tips to share feel free to hop in!

My Experience:

- Kinesiology degree with focus on Biomechanics
- Extensive Exercise Physiology coursework
- Competitive Powerlifter
- 8 years of experience with fitness in general


This thread is gonna cover a few topics:

1- General Wellness, Myths & "Making it work"

2- Popular Routines based on your fitness goals

3- Form and Function

4- Dieting for idiots, people with no time, (Pre)Medical Students

5- Sticking with it





1- General Wellness, Myths & "Making it work":

So before we hop in to the meat of this post, I want to make a note on general wellness. Exercising regularly has been shown to improve mood, reduce depression, help anxiety and improve self confidence. It also helps keep you sane when you have a ridiculously large courseload and your brain needs a break from the impending doom that is medical school.

That being said, if you are clinically depressed, have been diagnosed with, or suspect you have an anxiety disorder, please get help. Exercise will help with your problem, but it is no replacement for real treatments. Many successful doctors are on anti-depressants, and there is no shame in seeking help for a chemical imbalance in your brain.

Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about some fitness "Myths" that you may have heard.

1- Carbs are bad :
They aren't, you need carbs as a fuel source to power your workouts.

2- You need to go hard in the gym to see results:
Nope, small efforts over time are the key to progress. Eventually you will be putting in more effort as you follow a linear progression, but you should never go from zero activity to a 5 day per week plan right out of the gates. This is a recipe for injury and failure.

3- You need to count every calorie you eat to lose weight:
This is a big one, simply replacing foods with healthier options is enough for most people. I'll get more into this when I reach the "diet" section.

4- You need to cut and bulk if you want to get big:
Unless you are a competitive athlete that needs to make weight, you don't need to do this. You are better off eating healthier foods and gaining muscle slowly over time. No need to binge on pop-tarts all winter and then starve yourself in the spring so you can get abs for summer.

5- Women shouldn't lift weights:
This is probably the biggest myth out there. Ladies please, you will not look like a 'roided out bodybuilder if you lift weights! Lifting weights will improve your physique, especially the glutes, which literally every female I have ever trained has asked me to help them grow. Anecdotal evidence I know, but I think most of us want a nice butt.

6- I got this awesome new program from XYZ pro-bodybuilder, I gotta do 20 sets of 20 reps with as heavy weight as possible to grow!:
No. He is on drugs, which is why he can do that kind of volume and grow form it. If you are drug-free, a simple strength routine with a linear progression and some good assistance work will get you where you want to be. If your weightlifting takes more than 90 minutes you are probably doing too much.

7- I need 100$/month of supplements to get fit!
Stop. Get off instagram. Get out of GNC. Do not buy that cleansing tea or muscle 5000 powder. You don't need it. You are much better off eating real, healthy foods instead of getting your nutrition through supplements. For the record, I am the strongest and leanest I have ever been right now and I use exactly 0 suppplements.

Alrighty! If you have more questions, feel free to post them and I'll do my best to debunk the Myths as they come up.


Now "Making it Work" is a highly individualized topic. My point being, if you dislike an activity, you probably will not consistently do it. If you dislike lifting, then don't lift. If you dislike running, don't run. There are plenty of alternative options to get your strength/cardio work in without hating your life. I hate running, but I love swimming, so I swim for my cardio work. I love lifting, but Yoga is also extremely effective for building strength and balance.

Once you have a routine of exercise you enjoy, you still need to "make it work". You need to get your diet in order, you need to sleep enough. You don't get stronger or fitter by exercising. You get stronger and fitter by recovering from exercise. I realize that sleep is a rare luxury in medical school, but you pre-meds have no excuse! Even the medical students can do a better job of scheduling their time to get more sleep. Unless you have rounds or clerkships, you can probably find a way to get a few more minutes in here and there. Your brain and body will thank you by not falling apart at the seams.

Finally, keep a record of your workouts and aim to beat your previous workout by a little bit.

add 2.5 pounds to your lifts, try to take 5-10 seconds off your run time. Holding yourself accountable and tracking your progress will be an invaluable resource during this process!

2- Popular Routines based on your fitness goals:

There are a ridiculous number of routines out there and the fact of the matter is:

all of them work.

That's right, you read that correctly. If you are doing some kind of planned physical activity with a decent linear progression you will make progress, whether its Yoga or Running or Powerlifting or Olympic Lifting.

Reddit wiki of all popular exercise routines from Cardio to Powerlifting to Bodyweight training :

https://www.reddit.com/r/Fitness/wiki/programs

So, I just gave you a massive list of programs, which one do you choose?

Well that depends on you.

-Trying to build muscle, but don't care about strength?
Then follow one of the Aesthetics or Bodybuilding routines (These routines feature light-moderate weight with higher rep ranges)
The allpro beginner routine is a good mixed program, It'll get you some size and some strength to go with it. I used it to go from 150 pounds bodyweight to 220 without putting much fat on.

- Trying to get strong without all the bodybuilding fluff?
Pick one of the powerlifting programs.
5x5 , 5/3/1, Untamed Strength's "Best Program Ever" and others like it will get you strong and "fit" looking. The focus here is low reps with heavy weights. Watch your form here and make sure you have a good spotter.

- Trying to run better? There's plenty of running programs on the wiki and entire communities of advice.

If you are lifting weights, you should be doing some kind of cardio regardless of your goal (gain or lose weight)

The heart health benefits are too important to pass up for "gainz bruh". On your rest days, go for a long walk, 30-40 minutes at a comfortable pace. This will help your muscles recover from training, help keep the fat off, and improve your aerobic fitness. Just please do it for your own health.

Many of these programs have their own "Progression Scheme" where they will give you specific instructions on when/how to increase the weight or intensity over time. Follow them.

Are you trying to lose/gain weight?
This depends almost entirely on your diet. Not your lifiting/cardio routines. Cardio will for sure help the process, as will lifting, but you need to get your diet in order to make progress in either direction.


3- Form and Function
A routine is no good if you don't preform the exercises required. Its even worse if you do them incorrectly.

Exrx.net is a great resource for exercise form videos and descriptions. They also offer great evidence-based resources for fitness programs and philosophies. If you have a form question, wonder what works vs what doesn't and why, this is your new best friend.

Squat, Bench and Deadlift will be the crux of many good strength routines, these are highly technical lifts, so learn them well with extremely light/ no weight first.

When I began powerlifting I was not allowed to put weight on the bar by my coach until I could execute a rep perfectly. Watch youtube videos, visit exrx.com, just make sure you get the form down before you go charging head-first into a routine and hurt yourself. There are countless resources to consult for form and there's no reason for you to hurt yourself because you wanted to lift a weight for you to handle.

Runners and Swimmers, you aren't exempt from this. Both sports require technical ability and you should be constantly trying to improve your run/swim form.


4- Dieting

Ahhh Dieting, everyone's favorite topic.

Here's my take on the issue (from the pre-med point of view)

-Your life is gonna be busy. You aren't always gonna be able to make healthy food. You aren't always gonna be able to afford to buy an organic kale salad. Not that any sane person would want to.

The key to a good diet is eating a variety of good foods and cutting down on the junk. Vegetables with every meal, lean proteins, don't neglect carbs.

If you don't have time to cook that's fine! A burger or taco once in a while isn't gonna kill you. Eating some birthday cake isn't gonna make you fat. I'd rather be present and enjoy my holidays and special occasions instead forcing myself to eat broccoli and chicken like some kind of Dietary Martyr. Enjoy your damn life. If your mom makes baller tacos or doughboys then eat them, but make good choices the rest of the day. If your mom makes you your favorite food and you tell her "I can't eat this mom" I will personally figuratively slap you.

Most overweight people can drop those 10-15 pounds by simply swapping junk for healthy food 8 times out of 10. Don't go on a super restrictive diet, don't go on a stupid juice cleanse or a water fast.

Get the chicken sandwich at BK or Wendy's, Taco Bell has a surprising amount of high-protein options that I get when i'm in a bind. (shoutout to the shredded chicken soft taco, ILY)

Stop drinking regular soda. Drink water or Diet (research shows diet soda doesn't cause cancer, I drink it 2-3 times a week)

Watch the fruit juice (they can have a lot of sugar and calories you aren't aware of!)

Cut the alcohol intake down.

Swap out fatty meats for lean ones when you cook, use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. Eat more fish, put olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your salads, eat more veggies. Potatoes are okay! Baked White potatoes are one of the most satiating foods (srs its been published on medline) Sweet potatoes are baller when mashed with cinnamon. You can eat healthy without denying yourself good food. Most of the time, all it takes to make an unhealthy recipe healthy is swapping one or two bad ingredients out. When I'm trying to make weight for a contest, I simply add more veggies and water to my diet. I don't starve myself, and I'm never particularly hungry. I add a little more cardio and it works just fine.

You will find it is very difficult to overeat when your only food choices are healthy, real foods.

*Disclaimer, if you have a dietary restriction such as diabetes, please follow your doctors advice*

Honestly guys, there is no secret formula to this, eat healthy, do your best, and you'll be okay 90% of the time. Enjoy your life and don't go crazy. If you need to lose a few, then add more veggies and fruits and lean proteins. If you wanna gain weight add more healthy fats (walnuts/olive oil FTW). Its not rocket science.


5- Sticking with it:


This is the hardest part.

Your program and diet will only work for you if you stick with it. That is the truth.

You are better off starting out small (swapping junk for healthier options, working out ONE or TWO days per week) and keeping that up. Eventually those become habits, your body gets accustomed to it and you can do more.

The biggest mistake I see when I train people is they want to go from doing nothing to doing everything within a month. Your body will not take the shock well, and you will feel sore and crappy and quit.

Start slow, add work in over the course of weeks, start with super light weights and get the form and feel of it down. Start with just making healthier food choices, then add some exercise, as your body gets accustomed to it, add some more. Do activities you enjoy doing, swim, climb, run, hike, bike, lift, box, pose for yoga, do barre or pilates or spin classes. If you don't enjoy it you won't stick with it. You don't need to do a 5 day per week routine to be healthier or lose weight or get stronger. 2-3 days is plenty.

Don't be discouraged if you are bad at something you enjoy. If you enjoy it, and it gets you moving, it's a good choice for you. ( When I started lifting I couldn't even lift the bar ;) )


If you have questions about anything feel free to ask me or any of the other experienced guys who will hop in on this thread.

Oh and eat more bananas. You need the potassium.

-RogueBanana
Eat BIG. Get BIG.

Period. ;)