My Universal Guide To Getting in Shape

woman reading a fitness magazineSo who else wants to get in shape and start feeling and looking better now? I’m sure you already answered that for yourself before you found this article. The problem for you now is how to go about it. Today there are more options than ever and while some are better than others, I’ll try to break down the 10 most important things you can do to get in shape fast. Some of these may be new to you and some you may have heard before but nevertheless, these proven strategies will cover just about everything you need.

It’s important to understand that as I present these tips, they will only work if you apply them. I’m sure your too busy to waste your time absorbing information that you’re never going to use. So if your serious about doing something about getting in shape , please read on. Ok let’s get started:



About 30% of those who make the resolution to get in shape–whether at the start of the year or sometime during it–will quit after 3 weeks and of the remainder another 50% will not make through an entire year. Why? Because most will try to make up for years of poor nutrition and/or lack of exercise by dieting hard and hitting the gym 5 to 6 days per week for hours at a time and will invariably get ‘burned out’ after 4 to 8 weeks. Achieving any significant gains requires time and a long-term outlook. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your body.

Even if you have been at it for a while and are in shape, the goal should be to keep at it.  Once you achieve the level of fitness you’re after the next step is to then implement a plan for maintaining it for years to come.


The key to long-term progress and outstanding results comes from striking the proper balance between training demands and recovery time.  It is during the time you are recovering that your reap the benefits brought about through exercise. Too much exercise and too little rest will inhibit your recovery and subsequently any potential gains. Likewise, too little exercise (or exercise that is not intense or heavy enough) and too much rest  or complete abstinence from training will be be insufficient in stimulating gains.

Maximum gains are achieved through higher intensity effort carried out on a relatively infrequent basis. For the average individual this typically means 2-4 bouts of high intensity weight training per week with the occasional full week off.


In order to make gains you need to occasionally push your workout demands BEYOND what is ideal over the long-term. This means if you’ve found training three times per week to be ideal for making slow and steady gains without getting burnt out then in order to force your body to make new adaptations (i.e., muscle growth and/or increased strength) you must exceed what you are accustomed to and place greater demands on your body. In this instance it might be pushing your training to five times a week in order to create these new demands and adaptations.

However over the long run this frequency of training could result in injury, illness, muscle loss, decreased strength, and overall fatigue, otherwise known as overtraining.  For this reason, periods of overreaching should be kept to 1-4 weeks max.


Adopt weight training as your PRIMARY form of exercise. No single form of exercise affects more aspects of your total fitness than weight training.  Unlike yoga, pilates, running, spinning, aerobics classes, and the endless fitness fads that have come and gone, ONLY intense weight training affects and improves ALL the components of fitness:

    • Strength
    • Endurance
    • Muscle tone
    • Flexibility
    • Fat-loss

It also has a positive affect on cardiovascular health and helps to relieve back pain when performed properly and requires the least amount of time investment to achieve great results.


You must first have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. The next step is to plot the course for attaining this goal. Then you need to go out and EXECUTE the plan. Neither of the first two steps–clear idea & plan–mean anything if you don’t take ACTION . Unfortunately most people fall short in this respect.  Or, if they do take action they fail to see that action through until the end.

It’s imperative that you stay the course and don’t get turned away when you encounter set backs.  It is equally important to reassess your plan and the actions taken if you do not achieve your goal, so that you can plot a NEW course in the continued pursuit of your goal.


Is the ideal diet “low carb” or is it “low fat”? Is it high protein? Or is it a specific percentage of all three? Should you eat organic, vegetarian, vegan, or raw food? The combinations are endless and that only scratches the surface. How about when should you eat and how much and in what ratio? No wonder everyone is confused and clever marketers are taking advantage of it. So what’s the answer? Your bodytype, metabolism, activity level and goals dictate how the amount, type and timing of the nutrients you need. Eliminating or overindulging in any one of them can have undiscoverable consequences. Take the time to experiment with different combinations and ratios of protein, carbs, and fat in conjunction with a sufficient caloric intake to find out what works best for you.


Fitness gadgets and gimmicks will always blur the reality of effective exercise. Many of these “tools” originate in the rehab sector and others are simply born from the imagination of someone looking to satisfy their greed. Just because something looks fun, doesn’t make it effective, appropriate or even safe for your needs. While I believe that most things have their use, albeit limited, I recommend you stick to the tried and true basics. Increase your strength and stamina with tried and true techniques like progressive weight training and cardiovascular exercise. Leave the balls, boards and other destabilizing tools behind and focus on real productive workouts.

If you enjoyed this article, please quickly do me a favor and share with others and comment below.


Craig Simms

Craig Simms

Craig Simms is a personal trainer and weight loss coach in Vancouver, B.C. Craig has been a fitness leader for over 21 years and has amassed over 25,000 hours of personal training experience in that span. He specializes in personalized weight management programs.
Craig Simms
Craig Simms

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