Expert Workout And Diet Secrets To Reach Your Goals

If you’re reading this article it is safe to assume that you probably have a fitness or health goal you want to achieve. You’re in the right place. The best thing you can do to reach your goal is to track your progress. We provide you with top advice from our supporters who tracked their way to success.

You might have taken part in our feature hunt survey. From your responses, it was very clear that those who tracked their fitness progress were the most satisfied. We reached out to James and Darren, a highly successful fitness enthusiasts who achieved a body physique many of us desire. Here are their secrets that helped them become the fitness buffs they are today.



How do you track your fitness progress?

I switch between bulking and leaning out. When leaning out, it is especially important for me to track my progress to see if I’m going in the right direction. Paying attention to how your body is responding to your fitness program and diet can help you make appropriate changes. I use a variety of tracking methods for the best result. This includes checking my weight, using skinfold calipers and the mirror.



Frequency is also important. Weighing yourself every day is not wise since your weight fluctuates throughout a day. I step on the scale and take progress photos every 2 weeks while leaning out.


What exercises do you do?

I’m an amateur bodybuilder, so I do multiple exercises for every body part and constantly switch up what I do.  I couldn’t possibly list all of them! Every week I perform different exercises. The key is not to get caught up in a routine. When you do the same activity all the time, your body gets used it and it will eventually hit a plateau. Further, it can become terribly boring and you’re more likely to give up.


I usually just make exercise routines up as I’m working out. Don’t be afraid to experiment, be creative! Nobody else is doing this at the gym, so what? If it works for you and you’re enjoying it, go for it. Stepping outside of my comfort zone has always proven to be beneficial.


Do you have any nutritional tips?

It is unrealistic to cut out processed foods completely, but it is important to limit the amount you consume. A  highly-restrictive diet can only backfire, especially when cravings kick in.


I don’t count calories. I eat the same thing every day and I’ve learned what works for me over the years. Instead, I weigh my food. It’s important you get a proper ratio of protein/carbs/fat. There are a lot of online calculators that will give you a starting point for macros. You could also follow this guide.


While I’m leaning out, I’ve been having great results running an 11/3 split.  Meaning that I’ll run a calorie deficit for 11 days and then have 3 “re-feed” or up calorie days.  So for those 3 days, eat your favorite meals and desserts.  Keep in mind, you still have to eat within reason. You can’t go and shovel down 10000 calories each day!


What’s your favorite pre/post workout snack?

After a workout, you want ample protein combined with a carbohydrate. I always have a protein shake and banana after I workout.  Around 45 min later, I’ll eat again. As the building block of new muscle growth, no meal is complete without protein. I usually go for ground beef or chicken and rice.


What is your workout tip for pushing yourself on days when you don’t feel like training?

The gym is my happy place! I always want to train! A positive attitude is so important. Nothing can stop a man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal. Get excited about working out!


What tips would you give others that are just starting out?

Don’t quit, and don’t set unrealistic goals. Results take time.   

When starting a new fitness program, everyone has certain goals in mind and it is important to set goals that are realistic so that you can be successful in reaching your targets. Rather than starting with 50 pushups per day, start with 5.


When you’re at the gym feeling like you’ll never be one of those people who look like they’ve been at it their entire lives, remember that they all started somewhere. Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. Be patient and results will come.



How do you track your fitness progress?

I like to use Jefit to track my exercises. Its great for beginners since it also shows you different exercises and how to perform them. With it, you can easily craft workouts and keep track of your progress. You can log sets and reps, as well as how much you lift. A calendar helps you plan your workout days and rest days. One stop shop if you ask me.

I also got a Fitbit to track my activity level. Besides counting steps and measuring general fitness statistics throughout the day I love participating in weekly challenges with my friends. As a mildly competitive person, they encourage me to exercise a ton more. It is a fun way to help you stay motivated.


Do you have any nutritional tips?

A combination of a healthy diet and an exercise regimen is key for weight loss. But when it comes to dropping pounds, the food choices you make are more important than the amount of exercise you’re doing.


However, while many people think cutting back is the best thing to do,  I highly suggest trying to eat right not all the time but most of the time.


I started with cutting back “obvious carbs” such as pizza, pasta, mac and cheese, bread, etc. There are too many foods that contain carbohydrates so it is not realistic to remove them all from your diet. And you need carbs anyway!


I always say, find that one thing you love the most and only have it once a week. For example, I  cut my alcohol consumption to Friday evenings.


I recommend everyone having the same meals for two weeks (or whatever you feel is necessary). Then observe how your body responds and learn from it. Change your diet as you see fit. I found that my body does not digest pasta as fast and I consume it.


What motivates you?

Making a commitment and telling people. I told a friend I would get abs before him and we would talk about it for days. I also told someone that a muscle up wasn’t hard and I could do it in two months. By sharing your goals with others, people will start to hold you accountable and that can be very motivating.


What is your workout tip for pushing yourself on days when you don’t feel like training?

Just go to the gym and change clothes. Once you are there you might as well work out. You do not have to push yourself to 100% every time, but 80% still counts.


What tips would you give others that are just starting out?

Start small. Starting a healthy lifestyle does not require making major changes in your life—in fact, quite the opposite. Small, gradual changes are far more sustainable and will go a long way to help you achieve your goals. Make one or two small changes at a time. These small changes will make a big difference!


A big thank you to James and Darren for sharing their tips with us. They both have been very successful in achieving their fitness goals and what they share in common is balance, patience and persistence. I hope you all find these tips useful. If you have any advice of your own, we would love to hear it.  Share your tips by commenting below!

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Wiktoria Banda

Wiktoria is a content writer and illustrator at Shape.
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Use our free guide to design your very own personalized nutrition plan.
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