“Little by little becomes a lot.” — Anonymous
Start taking progress photos
Taking these photos serves two purposes: to track your body’s changes over time and to provide additional motivation.
While on this program, you will see noticeable differences in your physique every week, with your progress being really highlighted when comparing differences month to month.
You’ll only need to take pictures once a week and it takes just a few seconds. Here’s how:
- Any day that you aren't working out, stand in front of a mirror
- Take out your phone and get camera-ready
- Take the first picture while you’re not flexing
- Then take a second picture while flexing your entire body
- Add both pictures to a new album called “Progress”
- After taking progress photos every week, add them to the same album called “Progress”
Get your workout equipment
Note that none of the equipment listed below is needed! These are to be purchased as needed. As always, all of the items below have been tested for quality, effectiveness, and price-to-performance ratio by the beta-testers.
Like before, the recommended products below are Amazon associate links that help fund this website. If you don't have an Amazon account to purchase these items, look up the product name in your web browser to locate it.
Wrist straps help center your hands and provide additional support to your wrists during exercises like the bench press and overhead press [1, 2]. They can be very helpful if you find your wrists rolling back during these movements, which can be detrimental to your wrist health.
These work to stabilize your wrists and prevent calluses from forming on your palms (useful if you shake hands with others often). Additionally, these double as wrist wraps to kill two birds with one stone!
These are for those of you that have discomfort in your knees while performing movements like a squat or dumbbell lunge. Multiple studies have shown that while they do not increase exercise performance, they can drastically reduce the chances of a knee injury and improve discomfort [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].
Weightlifting belts have been shown to increase lumbar support, cause less discomfort, and even increase lifting strength by up to 40 percent [1, 2, 3, 4]! They do so by creating pressure inside the abdominal cavity in order to stabilize your core and spine.
In fact, it seems that most individuals are safer using a weightlifting belt than without one (see research above)!
The recommended belt below also doubles as a dip belt that you can use to add weights to your pull-ups, chin-ups, and other weighted exercises.
A dip belt is used to add additional weight to your pulling exercises like your chin-ups, pull-ups, etc. It's an almost necessary investment in order to progress on your back muscle growth.
Before purchasing, your current gym might already have these for customer use so check with them first before going all in.
Shoes, especially shoes specifically designed for weight lifting, claim to help stabilize your feet so that you can have more leg drive when performing exercises.
The evidence behind leg drive is shaky , so try out a friend’s pair (if you can) before deciding to purchase.
Decide where to track your workouts
Before heading to the gym, you need to choose how you’d like to keep track of your workouts. The most common ways to track workouts are either through an app or on paper [can't find research on this but it sounds right].
For this guide, it’s recommended that you keep track of your workouts through the app called “Strong”. Like the previously recommended apps, this guide is not associated with Strong. It just worked the best after a few thousand hours of testing:
Strong Workout Tracker Gym Log
The most intuitive workout and exercise tracker for any fitness routine. Strong is the simplest and most intuitive workout tracker, designed to help you get better results from your workouts. Whether you want to gain strength or just stay healthy, join over 1.2 million people who have downloaded St...
Strong - Workout Tracker Gym Log - Apps on Google Play
"I'd suggest downloading the "Strong" app before you return to the gym. It's that good" - CNBC "With apps like Strong, working out feels more like a game" - The Verge The simplest, cleanest, and most intuitive workout and exercise tracker for any fitness routine.
An important note is that as of @June 12, 2020, Strong has a 2-week trial for its pro features but then costs either $5 a month or $30 a year to keep them. Fortunately, Strong's free version has all the bells and whistles you need in order to use this entire guide!
Try it for the trial period and see if you think the pro version is worth the price before purchasing. If money is an issue, there are plenty of free workout apps on both the App and Play Store. After you have Strong or your workout app of choice installed, set it up:
If you're using your phone in the gym:
- Open up Strong or your app of choice
- Set up your account
If you would like to use pen and paper:
- Purchase a small journal like this one (paid link)
You’ll get the exercise programs in the “Training” section soon—you're already more than halfway through the guide—but for now, we have a more important topic: Nutrition.