We all know the fundamentals to getting in shape — eat smart and work out. But a lot of us have yet to come up with a surefire way to work them into our everyday routines. Many people simply count their calories or start jogging. Others go a bit more extreme.
As one family man approached middle age, he realized he needed to shed some pounds. Rather than try out one of the popular diets, however, he dove headfirst into an extreme fitness plan, developed by one of the most athletic individuals on Earth, and saw surprising results…
As his 37th birthday rolled around, Mark Webster sensed that he needed a change. He had a loving family and a number of successful business ventures, including a booking service that he sold to Groupon. Still, Mark felt one piece of his life was inadequate.
Facebook / Mark Webster
Himself. Mark stayed in fantastic shape throughout his 20s, but he let himself go after becoming a dad. Though he’d improved in the past couple years, Mark wanted to really kickstart his fitness. If only he could find some inspiration.
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In early 2016, Mark came across some details about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. That wasn’t unusual, as Dwayne was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. But Mark learned about the electrifying man’s intense workout and diet routine.
Mark took a long, hard look at himself in the mirror. He was no Dwayne Johnson, that was for sure. But maybe, he figured, if he borrowed some of the actor’s rules and habits, he could take the dramatic physical leap he was looking for?
Rocking for 30 Days
Doctors gave Mark the green light to follow in The Rock’s footsteps. Dr. David L. Katz of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center explained, “It’s intense — but that can be a good thing.” As long as Mark knew what he was getting into, he would be okay.
Knowing that taking on too much at once would break him, Mark made himself a promise: he would follow the Rock’s intense routine for 30 days, no exceptions. It was a tremendous plan — but would it be too hard to execute?
It began immediately the next morning, as Mark awoke to his new daily alarm set at 5 am. He groggily rolled out of bed, knowing he wouldn’t be getting back under the sheets until 10 pm, 17 hours later. Next, Mark had to hit the gym.
Every morning for the next month would start with a serious workout. While Mark reviewed the list of exercises he would go through, it occurred to him that his body was going to feel very, very sore.
Rocking for 30 Days
Each session began with almost an hour of high-effort cardio. As if that weren’t enough, Mark followed his cardio with up to 90 minutes of lifting, with each day targeting a different muscle group.
But Dwayne Johnson didn’t build up his massive biceps solely by pumping iron. To develop that kind of muscle mass, he had to fuel his body with the proper amount of nutrients. Essentially, that came down to eating a ton of food.
If Mark initially thought that eating a lot sounded like the perfect diet, he soon got a reality check. Though Mark’s food intake was high, his plan limited him to bland, healthy food. For example, dinner was a plate of plain cod and steamed vegetables…
Rocking for 30 Days
…over and over again! Mark watched as his kitchen turned into an assembly line while he prepared massive batches of food that would make up the seven meals he ate each day. Even then, Mark’s menu wasn’t complete.
Rocking for 30 Days
Before his early bedtime each night, Mark had to down a large whey protein shake. From the first post-workout bite to the final slurp, he took in 5,000 calories every day! Honestly, Mark had doubts as to whether he could keep this up.
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Aside from getting sick of fish, the diet drained Mark’s bank account pretty quickly. The cod — which was the main ingredient of most meals — cost $7 per pound.
This was of course no problem for Dwayne’s movie star money, even though he ate about 821 pounds of cod every year. Mark, on the other hand, really had to sacrifice to make it work.
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Nevertheless, Mark kept eating his cod calories and setting personal records in the weight room. Like with any commitment, he could think of a thousand reasons why he should quit. But deep down, he knew sticking to it would make him a better man.
At long last, the 30th day of Mark’s Rock routine approached. He eagerly awaited the chance to gorge on some junk food, and to sleep until a decent hour. But what he really looked forward to was the chance to analyze his final results.
Rocking for 30 Days
While Mark didn’t bulk up anywhere near the level of Dwayne Johnson, which was fine, but he did manage to simultaneously slim down and pack on a ton of lean muscle. He wasn’t the only one to notice the big improvement either.
Rocking for 30 Days
As Mark chronicled his fitness journey online, The Rock himself heard about the plan! He never expected some Average Joe to follow his grueling regimen, so he congratulated Mark for coming such a long way.
As thrilled as Mark was to hear from Dwayne Johnson, his biggest supporters were his family. Mark felt incredibly grateful to earn himself a happier and healthier life with his wife and daughter for years to come. That fact made him feel like a real action hero.
Facebook / Mark Webster
Though Mark’s exercise journey was a success story straight from Fitness Guru Heaven, the average Joe may embark on a physical health expedition with a plethora of faulty knowledge, which is more than a bit dangerous. Certified trainers just want you to work out correctly!
Facebook / Mark Webster
The best time to workout is in the night/morning: Elite bodybuilders might argue the time of day matters, but the benefits of one time or the other don’t really affect non-competitive athletes. Just workout when your power levels are up to the task.
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2. Working out is about living longer: Gym critics say all those “extra years” are wasted tossing heavy things around. To that, Rob Sulaver, founder of Bandana Training, said: “I don’t work out to live longer, I work out to live better.”
3. Exercise must hurt: The saying goes, “No pain, no gain,” but really, it should go, “no appropriate discomfort, no gain.” While working out pushes you to — and past — your limits, anything that makes you go ow is best left off your workout plan.
4. Cardio stops muscle gains: Doing light cardio work stimulates muscle gains, making you strong enough to beat even your toughest childhood friends in a fight. Too much cardio — like more than half an hour every day — can stunt your guns from getting huge, though.
5. Weightlifting makes you bulky: No one gets huge by accident. To earn those bulging, vascular muscles you see on the world’s biggest meatheads requires a fine-tuned diet where you eat more calories than you’ll find at the end of a bottomless brunch.
6. Carbohydrates are the devil: Remember all those calories you need to eat to develop meaty, dense muscles? A good portion of them come from complex carbs like whole-grain pasta, brown rice, or quinoa. Cutting ’em out can affect your energy.
7. Carbohydrates are a godsend: Techniques like carbo-loading — eating a ton of carbs before a workout — only really help people about to expend a lot of energy over a long period of time: marathon runners, weightlifting competition entrees, etc.
8. Don’t worry about carbohydrates: “Complex and low-glycemic carbs are a proper choice for strength training, and many would argue that they should be the backbone of your daily nutrition uptake,” personal trainer James Shapiro said. “The ‘bad carbs’ are out there, but a simple word of advice: moderation.”
9. There’s only one way to do certain workouts: Injuries and disabilities aren’t an excuse to stay out of the weight room. A certified personal trainer can come up with a few different ways to do any movement, one of which will surely help you hit the intended stimulus of an exercise.
10. Do whatever works for you: On the flip side, there are most definitely incorrect ways to do certain lifts or exercises. Trying to pick up a 225-pound barbell like it’s a loaf of bread in a Walgreens parking lot will not end well for you. Technique matters.
11. You must get sweaty: A long walk can get your heart rate up and burn enough calories for you to stay healthy and lose weight. Soaked shirts aren’t a must for belt-loosening loses. Getting huge with your buddies requires a more intense stimulus, though.
12. Work out every day: When you lift something heavy, your muscles tear just a little bit; when your body repairs those tears, you end up just a little bit stronger. Hitting the weight room every day stops those repairs, leaving you wiped and weak.
In fact, working out daily can actually do more harm than good. Your energy levels will stay down in the dumps, and some studies suggest your bone density can deteriorate. There ain’t enough milk in the world to reverse that!
13. Eating less stimulates your metabolism: Starving yourself in the name of awesome six-pack abs will actually turn off your metabolism, in a way. Your body goes into survival mode and starts hoarding food like a bear before winter.
14. There’s an ideal weight for your body type: As any Instagram influencer will tell you, the scale can’t always dictate happiness. “Everybody is different,” said Jenny Schatzle, founder of The Jenny Schatzle Program. “You were not meant to look like anyone else.”
15. All diets require a bit of starvation: “That’s a big myth, that not eating is going to get you to your goal,” said trainer Latreal Mitchell. “The more you eat, the more you get to your goal, provided that you’re eating the right things. It’s just about portion control.”
16. Running ruins your knees: Often times, a runner hurts their knee ’cause they sat at a desk all day. Their hip flexors and hamstrings got all tight, and then they tried to log a half marathon before bed. Just as loose lips sink ships, tight hips hurt knees.
Of course, bad shoes and running on concrete can also do a number on your knees. With proper kicks, a good stretching regimen, and some forethought about where you run, your knees will sing like a children’s choir.
17. Confusing your muscles builds strength: CrossFit and HIIT workouts make it tough to see how much strength you’re gaining, Martin Berkhan, founder of LeanGains, says, because you can’t track how much you, say, benched compared to the week before. Unless, of course, you re-do those varied workouts at later dates.
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18. There’s one best approach to fitness: Rocky got huge by punching meat in a freezer, so maybe that’d work for you, too. Maybe you’re a CrossFit person or a boxer or a runner or a yoga master. If it’s safe, you like it, and it gets results, it’s right for you.
No matter how you work out, eating the right foods is the key to getting and staying healthy. But even foods we believe to be healthy can be bad for us in the long run. For instance, veggie chips are deep-fried in saturated and trans fats. That spells problems.
2. Flavored yogurt: People turn to yogurt for a quick snack when they’re hungry. Many brands advertise themselves as low fat, but they pack those containers with sugar and other artificial additives.
3. Trail mix: If you’ve ever checked out the serving sizes of most trail mixes, they’re alarmingly small. Most people eat far more than they should, and it doesn’t help that many of them are full of salt, fat, and sugar.
4. Canned soup: If you have the option to make soup with organic ingredients from scratch, always do it. The canned stuff is often loaded with salt and far less nutritious. Don’t get into the habit of eating them.
5. Flavored instant oatmeal: In an ideal world, a bowl of oatmeal contains less than six grams of sugar per serving. However, that flavored oatmeal you find at supermarkets comes loaded with sugar and salt.
6. Frozen diet meals: It doesn’t matter what the box claims, frozen meals are never as nutritious as making the real thing. Salt and preservatives run rampant so that the meal stays intact while sitting in your freezer.
7. Packaged smoothies: The word “healthy” is synonymous with “smoothie.” The drinks are full of fruits and veggies, right? If you make one fresh, yes. But, those store-bought smoothies are full of fat and sugars.
8. Pretzels: These savory snacks are frequently advertised as a healthy way to satisfy hunger, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Pretzels are refined carbohydrates, which basically means sugar, sugar, and more sugar.
9. Protein bars: Many brands claim they act as meal replacements, which is very misleading to consumers. They hardly keep people full for very long, and there are many artificial additives and hidden sugars.
10. Diet soda: Even though chugging a can of your favorite diet soft drink may save you from consuming a lot of sugar, the artificial sweeteners companies use to replace sugar can actually be even worse for you!
11. Reduced-fat peanut butter: Smearing crackers with peanut butter is a common snack, but those who use low-fat peanut butter aren’t eating healthier. Sugar is added to make up for the fat, and that’s a huge no-no.
12. Vegetarian meat: Those who don’t eat meat but still want that carnivorous flavor settles on “meat” made out of veggies. Sure, the meat’s absent, but other ingredients like canola oil and xantham gum tend to creep in.
13. Beef jerky: This dried out meaty snack likes to parade around as a healthy source of protein. While they may offer protein, the preservation process includes a lot of salt which can lead to bloating and water retention.
14. Fat-free salad dressing: Many of the vitamins found in salads actually need a bit of fat to fully absorb into the body. Fat-free dressings strip us of the opportunity to break down many of the nutrients in the vegetables.
15. Fat-free frozen yogurt: Another classic example of people buying into the notion of “fat-free” it doesn’t contain fat, the stuff is chock-full of (you guessed it) sugar to make up for it. Just ask a dentist.
16. Gluten-free snacks: A lot of people have taken up a gluten-free lifestyle because they assume it’s much healthier. However, gluten-free doesn’t mean free of sugar, salts, and saturated fats.
17. Granola: What most people don’t take into consideration about this super popular food item is that the serving sizes are way smaller than they think. Each handful is teeming with fat and sugar.
18. Juice: Packaged fruit juice is in no way as healthy as actually eating the fruits. They’re loaded with sugar for flavor (sensing a trend?), and they’re missing the fiber content actual fruits contain.
19. Coconut oil: People trying to avoid olive oil usually turn to this popular alternative, but the truth is it’s really not any better. The oil is full of saturated fat. Many nutritionists recommend sticking to olive or avocado oil.
20. Acai bowls: At first glance, acai bowls look like they’re teeming with healthy stuff. While the foundation might be nutritious, many people load them up with high-calorie and high-sugar foods like granola and fruit.