Working out for Wimps

Are you interested in working out, but have no idea how? That’s where I was until a year and a half ago. I avoided the gym because I was so clueless about what to do there that I didn’t want to make a fool of myself.

Looking information on the internet is almost pointless, because every document out there is for people who know what they’re doing. I didn’t.

I finally got an idea of what to do when I moved to LA. One of my roommates, Tyler, is considered to be perhaps the most obsessed and analytical pickup artist in the business. I mean that in a good way – for a while he made it his life, and as a result he got to the top faster than anyone else ever has.

He had gone through the same process with weightlifting in the past and was an encyclopedia of knowledge. Additionally, I had a platinum Amex which, upon signing up for our gym, entitled me to six free personal training sessions.

After badgering Tyler and my trainer with questions, and continuing my education elsewhere, I was able to get respectable results in a fairly short amount of time. Hopefully my knowledge will be of use to you as well.


The first thing to realize is that there are two components of building mass (I’m assuming you’re a decent weight and want to gain muscle. If you want to lose weight, make sure to read all the way through because I have a special case for you at the bottom). You need to concern yourself with diet and with exercise.

The reason everyone’s always soiling their diapers over protein is because it is the building block of muscle. Exercising puts the building blocks in place and creates muscle. If you have no blocks, the exercising is just torturing you. If you have the blocks and no exercise, most of them will be digested. And I’ve digested a couple buliding blocks as a kid – it’s not the optimal solution.

Anyway, you want to get a good protein blend. My favorite place is The Protein Factory (and just to let you know how much I like them, every other place will pay me to direct people to their store, but I still recommend the one that doesn’t). The reason I like them so much is that you can custom make your protein blend, and the price is still reasonable. Make sure that you have it sweetened with stevia. It’s the healthiest sweetener by far.

I like to get unflavored protein and add it to smoothies, but most people just get flavored protein and add it to water. It doesn’t really matter.

You want to take in 1g of protein per pound you weight per day. If you can’t hack that much protein (you probably can), then do what you can.

Foods that are high in protein include fish, nuts, and chicken. It’s pretty easy to steer your diet in that direction.

Also, you want a lot of water. The easiest way to drink a lot of water is to always have a glass near you, even if you aren’t actively drinking it. I put a water machine next to my desk and I drink tons now.

The best time to eat lots of protein (read: your protein shake) is directly after working out. I usually saved a chicken breast and my protein shake for right after the workout.

As for the actual workout, it’s going to last about 40-60 minutes. Some people get nuts and do 90 minutes, but the return after an hour diminishes greatly.


You’ll work out three days a week. Probably Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you want to switch the days around, that’s fine – just don’t have two in a row if possible. If that’s the only way you can do it, fine. If you’re trying to lose weight, you want to jog 3 times a week if possible (or do the elliptical, treadmill or stair machine).

If you’re jogging, try to keep a 10 minute mile or so and run for 30 minutes after it gets moderately uncomfortable. Up until that point you’re warming up, so make sure to push, otherwise you’re doing a lot of work for almost nothing.

What is a rep?

A rep is a single instance of motion that brings you back to where you start. So doing one chest press rep, for example, would be lying on a bench on your back, holding the bar at your chest, pushing all the way up, and bringing it back down.

A set is just a group of reps. So three sets of 15 reps would be three groups of 15 repetitions, for a total of 45 “pushes”.

In general you want to be doing three sets of about 10 reps. By the 9th or 10th rep on the 3rd set, you should be having great difficulty continuing, possibly even unable to do it. The weight that you choose is the variable here, so as you get stronger you do the same amount of reps, but with a bigger weight.

The Exercises

On day 1 (Monday in this example), you’re going to work out your chest. This is what makes the ladies swoon (I’m told), so don’t slack.

Pick three or four different chest exercises and do 3 sets of 10 for each of them. Here’s where you can get great descriptions of each : Try not to be freaked out by the scary muscly man, or the even scarier muscly woman. You won’t ever have to look like that.

Also do 3×10 of one tricep exercise. Last, do the first rotator cuff exercise on this page.

Day two (Wednesday) :

Three shoulder exercises, two lat exercises, one middle back, one lower back

Day three (Friday):

Two calf, Three hamstring, two bicep

In addition, every single day (whether working out or not) you should do three sets of fifteen situps or crunches. These work your core, which unlike the other muscle groups, doesn’t need a break.

This quick guide is all you really need to know to productively get started working out. I’m sure experienced body builders will read this and say “he totally forgot about working the ankles! you need to work out everything!” and it’s true – if you want to be a body builder. But if you want to get impressive results without become a gym nerd, just follow this guide. If you get more serious about it, you can start investing money in a personal trainer or tons of workout books.

Where do I work out?

You can either join a gym or work out at home. Each has it’s own set of advantages and disadvantages. Gold’s Gym tends to be a favorite, as is 24 hour fitness. If you have a gym at school or at your apartment complex, just use that.

You can do most of the exercises at home with a bench. Right now has one at half price that looks really versatile. I paid more than that for a more basic one used off Craigslist (also a good option for instant gratification). You can buy weights online, but it’s not worth it with shipping. Just go to Wal Mart and get them there. To start off all you need are pairs of 15lb dumbbells, 20lb dumbbells, and 25lb dumbbells. Instead of a bar with weights on the ends, just use the two 25lb dumbbells. It’s safer and it saves money.

The only thing you can’t do from home without more equipment is your back exercises. Most of them will require a pulldown bar. I built one in my house pretty cheaply using stuff from Home Depot.

What to expect

Now, you aren’t going to notice any changes for about a month. This gets frustrating because it seems like you’re working for nothing – stick with it. By the end of month two, people will be commenting on your bigger muscles even if they don’t know that you’ve been working out.

The most important factor (as with anything) is consistency. Work out three times a week, EVERY WEEK. If you work out when you feel like it, you won’t ever make progress.

If you want to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time, there is an excellent book called Burn The Fat. If you are a reasonable weight already, then don’t bother complicating things – just start today!

Oh, and if you’re a lady type who doesn’t want to get all jacked up and you feel left out – don’t worry… I have a story just for the ladies coming out soon.






12 responses to “Working out for Wimps”

  1. Rhythm Avatar

    hehe i get to be the first annoying guy to disagree with some of your advise :P.

    I would personally do biceps with your back exercises as you will be using your biceps as secondary muscles for working the upper back, and for me makes more sense todo it that way instead of potentially overworking them.

    “In addition, every single day (whether working out or not) you should do three sets of fifteen situps or crunches. These work your core, which unlike the other muscle groups, doesn’t need a break”

    The abs muscles need rest like any other muscle. A rule i follow is that if your abs are sore don’t work them. I would also do your ab excerises on a swiss ball if you want to work the core. The swiss ball is the huge ball thats bouncy you see in the gym. The swiss ball is your best friend when it comes to abs.

    Also a small point but important fact on protein intake is to try and space it out, don;t take 180grams of protein in one sitting and think you are done for the day. Your body can only digest so much in one sitting before its just a waste.

  2. B-Runn Avatar

    You kinda forgot quads man. Your gonna be giving people some pretty funny posture if their hamstrings are huge and their quads are non existant. Plus you probably are going to want to do more for your biceps than calfs, cause last time I checked, Ladies like arms, not what you can see only in shorts haha.

  3. Sean Avatar

    Can you show some pics and give details on how you constructed the pulldown bar. perhaps u should post a new article about it.

  4. dan Avatar

    Ok, two questions:

    1. How can you build mass and stay on the diet you originally formulated after reading Kurzweil’s book (the diet you put together for the skinny snob)?

    2. How can you build mass on a raw diet?

  5. Administrator Avatar

    Yeah, I’ll do a little article on the pulldown bar when I get back to Austin.

    To answer your questions, Dan :

    1. I ate a ton of protein including chicken, fish, and whey protein. The diet is actually pretty well suited to mass building.

    2. I haven’t tried doing it, but I assume it’s possible. I eat a lot of high protein foods like almonds and flax seeds. Consider that very strong animals like gorillas follow this diet.

  6. Stewen Wright Avatar
    Stewen Wright

    Ya well… arnt PUAs supposed to be successfull inspite what they look like. Infact, some of the ugliest men alive are the best PUAs at a time 🙂

  7. dan Avatar

    Bender: true, you are correct. But working out and implementing a healthy diet will make you look and *feel* better. It’s about more than PU…. it’s about getting the most out of life. A healthy diet and proper exercise regimen will only make you more successful in life.

    That’s why I like reading this blog: because Herbal gets *it*…. PU is great but it’s not the end.

    Herbal: Thanks for answering my questions…

  8. CaSa_NL Avatar

    I must say I disagree with all of you.
    training 3 times a week is very good.
    at first of all if you wanna lose weight or not I suggest you should jog 6times a week and that would be from monday to saturday.
    Jog as much as you can, there are too many different ways for it.
    at second why do you want to train every muscle just 1time per week instead the minimum of 2/3.
    Chests are big muscles so if you work out hard.
    It takes some time to recover.
    Starting with doing that 1-2 times a week is ok.
    But doing it 3 times per week is better.
    You can train your arms 3 to 6times a week if you like.
    Those muscles recover faster.
    I suggest you train all muscles 3 times per week.
    And NEVER EVER SKIP A MUSCLE unless it still hurts because that’s a sign that it’s regenerating and growing.
    It’s still a nice schedule but I learn from the pro’s.

  9. zeuice Avatar

    Have you ever checked out core conditioning? Through various workout dead ends I’ve found it after several years of experimentation. I’ve found it safer, easier, faster, and much more interesting. These principles are similar to that of pilates or even yoga, but extend the ideas towards the ultimate goal of combat training. Each exercise allows you to build strength, stretch, and also gets your blood pumping. This stuff could help anyone get the core strength needed to perform stunning feats of break dancing in just a few months.

    I’d thoroughly recommend checking out this guy for more info (he’s really pushing the concept), his videos are pleasant and easy to watch, and despite first looks he’s really not some kind of psycho:

    wikipedia entry:

    Just to prove I’m not some kind of advertising agent, search fot these non spcific terms too:

    carl gotch (apparently the indirect father of this stuff)
    core conditioning
    combat conditioning

  10. hydrocodone link Avatar
    hydrocodone link

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  11. dillon Avatar

    i would say that u should work evey muscle with littler weights and than jogg every other day and keep a diet that dosnt put on to much fat or u wont seee result to much and also drink lots of water and eat lots of carbohydrates

  12. Mike Avatar

    On a forum this would be thread necromancy, but I wanted to get a site that I’ve found very useful out there.

    It’s helpful, well written information on almost any exercise, as well as other advise.

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