How to Get “In Shape” in 2023 (myth-busting and info about how to design your own fitness program)

How to make 2023 your year

Well, 2023 is here, the new year has arrived and if you’re like many people, getting in shape nears the top of your new years resolution list.  Also if you’re like many people, its appeared at the top of your list before but remains and unchecked box on your new years check list.

eating healthy and exercising are consistently near the top of people's new year's resolutions
credit Statista

This year is going to be different though because I’m going to point you in the right direction.  Will this be a step by step plan?  Well sorta, but more like general guidelines that if you follow you can do great.

First, let’s set a couple things straight.  A common mistake people try to do is “spot reduce” problem areas.  A common example of this would be doing a bunch of ab exercises in an attempt to burn belly fat.  Unfortunately it doesn’t really work that way so don’t do it.

Fortunately though you can spot enhance muscle development.  Meaning you can do more curls to improve your biceps, or do heavier hip thrusts to build your glutes (the butt muscle).

So in order to get that the sought after lean, sculpted athletic appearance you should

  1. Develop the muscle in order to create toned muscle. (Through training)
  2. Get lean enough so the muscle won’t be covered up. (Through nutrition)

In reality, when people say that they want to be toned, what they’re actually looking for is building muscle and burning fat, just not to the extreme levels of body builders.

Now in order for this to happen, you’ll need to get leaner by taking control of your nutrition.  The nutrition needs to do a couple things simultaneously.  It needs to create a caloric deficit while simultaneously providing enough of the good stuff to rebuild your muscles while building health.  I have plans for this, and I also have nutritionists, dietitians and functional medicine doctors in my network to help out when the big guns are needed.

With the nutrition in place, we’ll train for performance across a variety of exercises that hit the main movements categories.

At the base level for lifting, this would be:

  1. Upper body push (examples would be bench press, military press etc)
  2. Upper body pull (examples would be rowing, chin ups and lat pull downs etc.)
  3. Hip dominant (examples would be hip thrusts, deadlifts, kettlebell swings etc.)
  4. Knee dominant (examples could be barbell squats, goblet squats, front foot elevated split squats etc.)

Training those 4 key lifting movements will train all the muscles involved with them.  As an example in the overhead press, you’re hitting shoulders, upper pecs, triceps, glutes, abs and many others.  Getting the 4 main categories will ensure you’re making effective time of training and hitting the major muscle groups along with everything in between and ensures balance.

Now, with those 4 in place we would strive to get stronger across all of them.  Why train for performance?  Well generally that produces better results, and better enthusiasm for training.  When you are training simply for aesthetics it’s hard to quantify results.  Even supermodels have things about themselves they don’t like.

Meanwhile, doing more weight than you ever had before and repping out with it is easy to compare.  Numbers are numbers after all.

Taking a bench press with a weight that someone could only do once at the beginning of a 12 week cycle and being able to do it for an easy “ish” set of 10 at the end of the cycle is an obvious improvement. In addition to that the best way to improve someones physique is to improve their max strength and do reps with it.

Strength has its own benefits too, like walking around with the “I got this” mindset and strength carries over to life in general, like throwing around your kids, drumming all night long, lifting critical care patients (one of my clients is a paramedic), martial arts, playing pickle ball or just having the physical capacity to do whatever makes you happy.  Life isn’t meant to be observed from a chair.  Life is for living, and it’s better when you have the physical capabilities to live it to its fullest.

picture taken of Jana on a recent vacation
Jana had this pic taken on vacation…enjoying her life with the lean, fit, strong physique she earned through training at Eric Moss Fitness

Now, with the basic lifting movements in place you would apply a strategy of progressive overload. As in over time you add either more weight, more reps or ideally both.  Like I said and it bares repeating the best way to improve your physique is to improve your max strength for reps.  Keep in mind, it’s not going to be every session.  It’s going to be over time.

With my personal training clients, after I’ve screened them to see what we can safely do, I come up with some exercises in the categories listed above, establish what their current capabilities are so I can get an idea of where I can start them to progress them optimally.

Then we start below their capabilities and expand outward until we sneak past their previous limits without them even realizing it.

Applying these strategies works for both men and women, younger or more life experienced.  

I’ve applied this to regular people that just want to look better, perform better and feel better about themselves. I’ve applied it to athletes.  I’ve applied it to nerds (their words not mine). I’ve applied it to touring musicians that needed to improve their capacity so they don’t lose a step.  And I’ve applied it to national beauty contest winners who went on to go the distance at the international level (making history by being the only one representing Team USA to not only place but to come in 2nd)

Mr. Gay World USA 2022 Tony Ardolino showing the physique he built at Eric Moss Fitness in Boonton
Mr. Gay World USA 2022 Tony Ardolino showing South Africa toned physique he built at Eric Moss Fitness in Boonton

It works for them, it’ll work for you too.

So let’s recap with a couple key elements.  Get a nutrition plan that simultaneously burns the fat that covers your physique while providing the building blocks for muscle and health.  Get a plan that covers the 4 main lifting movement categories and have a strategy of progressive overload to maximize your strength for reps.  If you do it right you can have that body you’ve been dreaming about for the past couple years and depending on where you’re starting from you can get it before summer.  Just have a look at some of my success stories and see how they did.

If you need help with this, I have a free trial at my personal training studio in Boonton. Just text me at 973 476 5328 to get started.

Eric Moss is a personal trainer in Boonton and moonlights as a world-record-holding modern-day professional performing strongman, author, and motivational speaker. In the tradition of the strongmen more common during the turn of the century, he performs feats of strength such as bending steel and breaking chains as part of a live show and speaks on goal achievement for corporations, associations, nonprofits, and government entities as well as for schools and universities. His personal training studio is located on Main Street in Boonton New Jersey and is close to Mountain Lakes, Denville, Montville, Butler, and Parsippany New Jersey.

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