Señor Juan wrote an article about working out. Now it’s my turn.

When it comes to the health and fitness community, there’s a lot of bullshit. I mean, A LOT. I could easily write an entire article just on how much I hate fitness influencers (or anyone who refers to themselves as an “influencer” for that matter), but now’s not the time nor the place. Suffice to say, 95% of fitness influencers on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and whatever other social media site is popular these days are a bunch of fake ass corporate shills. Almost all of them are on steroids (shoulders and traps always give it away), and every single one of them has something to sell you except for actual advice that works for the average person.

I read Juan’s article, and I was less than impressed. Smith machines? Turning fat into muscle? Smith machines are for women and weenies, and your body physically can’t convert fat into muscle because biology doesn’t work that way. Juan works out at Planet Fitness (I’ve already written about my gripe with this so-called “gym” in a past article), so I guess I can’t expect him to know too much. I’m no fitness expert by any stretch, but I hit the weights five times a week minimum for about an hour a day, and I’ve been doing it long enough to have a general idea of what works for most people and what doesn’t. I definitely know more about it than Juan. Juan learned a lot of what he knows about lifting weights from his uncle, who’s well-intentioned but often full of old-school bro science. Paco’s not an idiot or anything, he’s just from a different era. One of these days I’m going to get Paco to work out with me, if the guy would ever take a damn day off of work.

Anyway, Juan’s article inspired me to write my own article sharing some of my own collected wisdom about working out. If this article inspires even one person to pick up some weights and get their shit together, then I’ve succeeded.



The most important part of working out is having a good diet. You simply can’t out-train a bad diet. It took me about 10 years to learn this one, and my physique and lifts are nowhere near where they should be because I continued to make poor dietary choices. Don’t be like me, get it right the first time.

If I were to go into detail about proper dieting it would warrant its own article, so I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty. We’ll simplify it with CICO, or “Calories In, Calories Out”. What are your goals? Want to lose weight? Eat less. Trying to build muscle? Eat more. Learn to count calories, it’s tedious and hard at first but after a few months it becomes routine and you can do it by eye.

Food sources are important too. While you could theoretically eat nothing but McDonald’s every day and still achieve your goals as long as you counted calories, you’re cheating yourself in the long run. You need a balanced diet, otherwise you’re depriving yourself of various important micronutrients. Your body is a vehicle, if you fill it with shitty fuel you’re going to feel like shit.

One day I’ll make an actual article going into to detail about proper diet, but until then just count your calories and eat healthy food.


The Main Lifts

There are many different kinds of lifts, but there’s four in particular that I think are the most important:

Bench press, squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses are the four most important lifts a lifter can do, and should be staples in every lifter’s regimen. I prefer to make these my heavy lifts, aiming for anywhere between 2-5 reps per set.

A good beginner’s goal for these lifts is the old “1/2/3/4”, which means “one plate/two plate/three plate/four plate”.

When people say “plate” they’re referencing how many 45 lb weight plates are on one side of the barbell (I know, I think it’s silly too). So a barbell that’s “one plate” has a single 45 lb plate on each side. Your standard Olympic barbell is seven feet long, 2 inches in diameter, and weighs about 45 lbs on its own with no plates loaded onto it. So if you’re lifting “one plate” you’re lifting a total of 135 lbs. A surprising amount of folks don’t factor the weight of the bar into their lifts. These people are idiots. The bar has weight, you’re lifting it. It counts.

Anyway, a good goal to aim for with your “big four” lifts is 1/2/3/4. Your overhead press would be 135 lbs, your bench press 225 lbs, your squat 315 lbs, and your deadlift 405 lbs. Depending on your age, your diet, and how hard you push yourself, this could take you anywhere from six months to a few years.

Proper form is always important no matter what lift you’re doing, but when it comes to squatting and deadlifting it’s extra important. I learned this from personal experience. In my quest to reach 1/2/3/4, I rushed myself and didn’t take the time to learn proper squatting and deadlifting form. It started out with frequent strained lower backs, and culminated in me getting an MRI and finding out I have degenerative disc disease in my L4-L5 lumbar. Now I’m slowly trying to build up my squat and deadlift again, but I’m at a huge disadvantage and it may take me years to get to 1/2/3/4, if I even reach it at all now.

Don’t be like me, don’t fuck up your back by being an impatient dickhead. Watch videos, hire a trainer, whatever you need to do to learn the form. No half-measures, Waltuh.


Training Regimens

There’s a billion different training regimens out there, you just have to find the one that’s right for you. I personally recommend the Fierce 5 routine for beginners. It’s got a good balance of push and pull, isn’t too much for a newbie, and has decent progression. This will give you a basic idea of the fundamentals of weight lifting, and net you some good gains in the process.

Search around and find a regimen that works for you to start, and don’t be afraid to switch regimens every few months to prevent stagnation. Once you’ve been lifting for a couple of years you should be able to create your own regimen.



Don’t. The risk outweighs the benefits on this one.

Most of those influencers you see are on steroids. Every single pro bodybuilder is on them too, no matter how much they deny it. You simply don’t get to competitive levels without juicing.

The quickest way to spot someone on steroids is their shoulders and their trapezius muscles. Steroids work by stimulating certain receptors in your body. For most people, the shoulders and traps contain the highest number of these receptors, leading to overdeveloped shoulders and traps in steroid users. That’s not too say that everyone with good shoulders or traps is juicing, but the majority are.

Unless you’re training to become a pro, taking steroids is a needless risk. The average person can’t just walk into the doctor’s office and say “Hey doc, I want to get ripped, put me on a cycle of Dianabol.” Interestingly enough, you can walk into the doctor’s office and say “Hey doc, I want to transition into a woman” and they’ll give you estrogen supplements no questions asked. But I digress.

Without proper guidance you’re more likely to misuse steroids and damage if not kill yourself. Celebrities and athletes are able to get around this by having money to pay doctors a little extra to lie for them and put them on proper cycles. You don’t have that luxury, you’re much more likely to fuck up and die from organ failure or heart problems, like Zyzz or Rich Piana.

Besides, you’d be amazed what you can achieve without them. I submit to you the legendary Eugen Sandow as a prime example of natty bodybuilding:

A legendary strongman from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Eugen Sandow is widely regarded as the grandfather of modern bodybuilding. Anabolic steroids weren’t invented until the 1930’s, so Sandow had to rely on good ol’ fashioned training, diet, and determination to achieve his physique. And he did it without the luxury of modern science, just imagine if he had access to all the knowledge about fitness that we have now. Dude would have looked like a Greek god, minus the boy-fucking.

There’s no need to take steroids if you’re not competing, plain and simple. Hard work and proper diet go much further than you think.

With that said, I don’t shame steroid users. Most of them still put in the work to achieve their goals. You can’t simply take steroids and not work out, otherwise you’ll just get fat. You’ve still gotta hit the weights and put in the time and effort. Their progress is just quicker and more visible than someone who doesn’t use. I have nothing against people who take steroids, and would even consider it myself if I could get them legitimately from my doctor.



Waste of money, get your vitamins from food.

A bit of protein powder is okay though. Just don’t rely on it as your primary source of protein. I also use creatine powder, but it’s not necessary and it’s gotten so pricey since COVID that I’m tempted to let my supply run out and drop it.


Volume and Weight

What are your goals? Are you simply trying to look cut, or are you trying to get strong?

If you’re looking to get shredded, using a low weight for a higher number of reps will help “tone” you. High volume low weight training stimulates muscular hypertrophy and builds endurance. It can also double as cardio, which is good if you’re trying to lose weight. I try to keep higher volume exercises around 12-15 reps, but it varies depending on the exercise. I’ve gone as high as 25 reps on a lightweight set at times. Dumbbell curls are great for this, as are reverse flyes and front/lateral raises.

If you want to build actual strength, you’re better off doing heavy lifts for less reps. As I said before, I find it best to keep my “big four” lifts heavy for less reps, staying in the 2-5 rep range. You can also achieve muscular hypertrophy this way, it just won’t be as fast as low weight high reps. That’s not to say you can’t also do the big four exercises at lower weight for more reps. I think this actually works best with the bench press and the overhead press, my chest and shoulders respond well to high volumes. But if you want to hit that 1/2/3/4 and start putting up the big numbers then you need to go heavy for low reps.

It’s generally a good idea to do a mixture between the two. That way you’re still building strength while stimulating growth and building endurance. Personally, I like to use dumbbells for my high volume low weight exercises, and make most of my barbell exercises heavier. But this isn’t a steadfast rule, you should mix this up depending on what works best for you.


Rest and Recovery

I see so many people pushing themselves daily and not giving themselves a day or two off. This mindset is only furthered by celebrities like Mark Wahlberg or The Rock sharing their excessive twice-a-day seven-days-a-week workout schedules. First of all, those guys are on steroids. Second, you’re not an A-List actor or athlete. Those guys (and girls, we don’t discriminate here at AJnet) operate on a different set of rules from us normal folks. You need to rest and let your muscles recover.

Depending on your regimen and your skill level, you might choose to take every other day off from lifting, or lift two days, take one day off, then lift two more. Personally, I lift five days straight then take the weekend off (sometimes I’ll also put in a Saturday or Sunday if I plan on drinking or eating like shit that weekend). I generally train chest, back, and shoulders one day, then legs, arms, and abs the next. This way I give one group of muscles a day to recover before hitting them again, then at the end of the week each group gets three days to recover. I wouldn’t recommend this for a beginner though, you’re liable to burn yourself out and lose the motivation to lift.

As I said earlier, I’d recommend the Fierce 5 routine for beginners, which has you working out three days a week, skipping a day in between each workout. But no matter what regimen you choose, ideally you won’t be training the same muscle two days in a row. Your muscles can’t rebuild and repair if you’re constantly using them.

A good night’s sleep is very important as well for muscle growth. Perhaps one day my body will actually figure this one out. But for those of you who don’t have fractured sleep, I recommend getting a solid eight hours every night.



There’s really no one size fits all answer for fitness, it all depends on your body and its individual needs. There are basic principles that apply to everyone, like CICO, but in the long run you’re going to need to experiment and figure out what works for you. My training regimen might not work for you, and vis versa.

But the most important part of working out is putting in the work. Set yourself a goal, do a little research, and make a roadmap to achieve that goal. Keep your goal reasonable and realistic. Most of you aren’t going to look like Arnold (who has been training and juicing since 14-15), nor will you look like your favorite Instagram influencer. But if you do it right and you stick to it you’ll be amazed at what you can actually achieve.

If you have any questions or are seeking advice on something I didn’t cover in this article, feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer.

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By Angry_Jerk

The CEO/Editor-in-chief of AJnet, and the current king of internet ranting. Hailing from the fine village of Northeast Philadelphia, AJ has been creating content on the internet for over 15 years. None of it has really been funny or entertaining, but he keeps trying anyway. When he’s not creating new articles for the site, he can be found hitting the weights, watching anime, or playing retro video games.