Today, I'm excited to bring you 24 tips to get insanely fit in 2024. My biggest tip: just start. Whatever you've got going on, dive in today and start chasing your goals.
One of the things I'm continually thinking about as I age (I'm 32 now, which I know is young) is how I can continue to push the boundaries and improve, even when I'm in my forties, fifties, and beyond. In my mind, I'm thinking, "What are things I can do this year to get a little bit better?"
I don't want to be that guy who talks about how he used to be able to do this or that back in high school. One day I want to be a jacked grandpa!
Without further ado, here are my 24 tips to get insanely fit in 2024:
1. Address holes in your diet: Look for the little things you can do to improve. Maybe you have three beers every night before bed. Try cutting back to one beer, or even better, zero beers. Or maybe you know you'll want something sweet every night before bed, like a Little Debbie, cereal, or ice cream.
Switch to a better, smarter snack. My go-to is always Greek yogurt with protein powder. I mix that up first, then add a little bit of peanut butter. It's great, gives you a little bit of protein, and helps me sleep.
Address the holes in your diet, figure out what they are, and make subtle changes to make a big difference.
2. Prioritize protein: This is a huge one! If you're unsure how much protein you're getting each day, you're probably not getting enough. I would suggest downloading MyFitnessPal and tracking your intake for a couple of days. The general consensus now is 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So, that comes to about one gram per pound of body weight per day.
If you're overweight, you can do a little bit less than that. But if you're at a pretty healthy weight and just looking to minimize body fat and gain muscle mass, aiming for about one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day is great.
Focus on chicken breast, beef, whey protein powder, Greek yogurt, and tuna.
3. Creatine monohydrate: This is a huge one that I feel like a lot of guys sleep on. Creatine monohydrate is not an expensive supplement. It helps you pack on muscle mass, and there are also a lot of studies out there right now talking about how it's good for brain health as we age. It's inexpensive.
Creatine monohydrate is easy to add to boost your strength and pack on muscle mass. Take it post-workout with a carb source. You could use Gatorade or drink it in your protein shake.
4. Use fish oil to ward off inflammation: When you train harder, your body is constantly in a state of recovery, and it can become inflamed. Fish oil is a simple and effective way to decrease inflammation in the body. It's also good for heart health.
I use SFH Strong post-workout for creatine, Pure Whey, and their Fish Oil Gel Caps. You can use code BENBARKER10 for a discount.
5. Get your healthy fats: Healthy fats are crucial for guys, as they have a lot to do with testosterone production and hormone function. Make sure you're getting enough of them from sources like avocado, olive oil, and Brazil nuts (two a day are recommended for testosterone, according to Timothy Ferris!).
Swap ranch dressing for olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt on your salads for a healthier and tastier option.
6. Hydrate like a champ: This one seems obvious, but it's worth repeating: drink water! Most of us should be aiming for at least 3 to 4 liters of water a day. Track your intake and make it a habit. Chug a big glass of water first thing in the morning before coffee.
7. Use tempo when lifting weights: Don't just crank out reps without paying attention to form. When you use tempo, you improve mind-muscle connection and tear more muscle fibers, leading to better growth. Pause at the bottom of squats, deadlifts, and other exercises for a controlled count.
My favorite exercises to use tempo are pull-ups, incline bench press, RDLs, and goblet squats. Think about taking 3-5 seconds to lower each rep.
8. Master paused reps: As you train longer, incorporating variations like paused reps keeps things challenging. These slow down the exercise, forcing you to focus on form and making it harder. I love paused squats and deadlifts!
Try 5 sets of 2-3 reps on front squats.
9. Track your strength: Some people get super scientific with spreadsheets or apps, while others simply keep track in their head. Know your best lifts, like your back squat max or bench press reps at 225. Tracking progress, even loosely, motivates you to keep pushing.
10. Leg day twice a week: Don't skip leg day! Legs house the most muscle in your body, so train them twice a week for optimal results.
My week looks like this:
Tues: Upper Body
Fri: Upper Body
Sign up for a free 7-day trial of my Gym Gainz Guide today, so you always have a plan for your workouts!
11. Weighted chin-ups: If you're not good at pull-ups or chin-ups, make 2024 the year you conquer them. And then add weight! Weighted chin-ups are a killer exercise for back and biceps. Start with a 25-pound plate and work your way up.
Try 5 sets of 3-5 reps.
12. Weighted dips: Pair those weighted chin-ups with weighted dips for a killer upper-body superset. Hit 4 sets of 5 chin-ups followed by 5-8 dips. Weighted dips build your chest, shoulders, and triceps for a jacked physique.
For Weighted Dips, try 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps.
13. Embrace burnout sets: When I was training solely for athletic performance, these were not a priority, but for aesthetics, they're fantastic. On your final set of most exercises, push yourself to failure with good form.
Set of 12? Push past until form might fail to maximize muscle growth.
14. Master the front squat: Front squats are amazing for leg development and improving upper-body mobility. Don't just cross your arms; use a full grip for maximum benefit. Start light and work your way up to heavier weights.
5 sets of 3-5 reps.
15. Unilateral love with single-leg RDLs: This unilateral exercise strengthens each leg individually, addressing any imbalances and building a strong, balanced lower body. Add dumbbell RDLs to your routine for sculpted glutes and hamstrings.
I use dumbbells and aim for 3 sets of 8-12 reps per leg.
16. Fight tech neck: Hunched over your computer or phone? Combat tech neck with posture-correcting exercises like face pulls, corner pec stretches, and superman holds. Remember, good posture makes you look and feel better!
The superman hold might be the most underrated exercise. It is simple, easy to do, and can be performed anywhere. Try holding the exercise for 60-90 sec as warm-up or during core training.
17. Mobility matters: Even a few minutes of mobility drills before your workout can make a world of difference. I prioritize thoracic, hip, and ankle mobility before each workout.
Try Spiderman lunges, couch stretches, and pigeon pose for improved movement and injury prevention on rest/ recovery days. Be a supple leopard.
18. Get uncomfortable: Step outside your comfort zone! This could mean trying new exercise variations, burnout sets, or even ice baths and saunas. Andrew Huberman's research on cold exposure is fascinating, and pushing your limits can lead to mental and physical growth.
19. Make fitness a family affair: Get your kids and spouse involved in your fitness journey! Go for family walks, use your home gym equipment together, or find activities you all enjoy. Making fitness fun and social is a great way to stick with it long-term.
20. Invest in home gym equipment: Build your own gym sanctuary! Having a squat rack, PowerBlock dumbbells, and other equipment readily available can make it easier to squeeze in workouts even on busy days.
I like PowerBlock dumbbells for their versatility and space-saving design. You can use "benbarker20" for $20 off a set of Powerblock DBs!
21. Sleep like a king: Prioritize quality sleep! Aim for 7-8 hours per night. This is essential for muscle recovery, hormone regulation, and overall health. Develop a relaxing bedtime routine, avoid screens before bed, and invest in blackout curtains if needed.
22. Find your tribe: This is huge. Connect with people who push you, whether in the gym, at work, or just in life. You are the sum of the five closest people around you, and that's not a joke. Surround yourself with winners and rise to the occasion.
If you don't have access to good people locally, that's where social media and podcasts come in. Find the right voices to listen to. Remember, "input equals output."
23. Lift others up: As you improve and elevate your life, look for others you can bring along with you. This is a big area I can work on, especially connecting with dads who want to be better, improve their fitness, and be absolute bosses.
Lifting others is a powerful goal, and it makes the climb even more rewarding.
24. Choose a goal that scares you: Pick something that makes you squirm a little. If it's not uncomfortable, it's not big enough. Ben Bergeron, a famous CrossFit coach, called these "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" (BHAGs).
Choose something that shoves you out of your comfort zone. That's why, before I turn 33, I'm chasing a five-minute mile and a 500-pound squat. It terrifies me, I might not make it, and everyone will know if I don't. But that's the point! Put yourself in situations that force growth.
Remember, consistency is key! Start today, implement these tips gradually, and don't give up. You've got this! I hope this list of all 24 tips helps you crush your fitness goals in 2024.