I like to think of myself as someone who tries to keep fit but I haven't always been this way. I've been through my fair share of trial and error to find the workout(s) which work(s) for me. The point in that I learnt a lot from reading up and asking others who'd done the hard yards before me. So there's always new things to try to supplement or redesign one's workout. So I'm going to post as much of my workout and hints/tips as I can remember right now and why I do what I do. What I'd like to promote is others doing the same thing so we can learn from each other what works and doesn't work in getting fitter. Most of us who've been doing work for a while would be well aware of what doesn't work because dammit, trial and error is your friend! Want to talk diet eventually, too.
So here we go.
My workout is actually fairly simple but it's gotten me great results.
This is the one everyone hates, right? I know I do. I love being able to run around in sports, etc. but dammit, I hate slogging it out on a treadmill or bike in a gym. HATE It. The crap thing is, you have to do it. But not in the way you think. If the aim is to lose weight, punishing yourself with jogging for a long time on the tread is a recipe for disaster. And it relates to your maximum heart-rate.
Basically, your max HR is 220bpm - your age (in my case, 193). The ideal fat-loss range is 60-70% of that rate (in my case, approx 115 - 135bpm). No kidding, that's basically a fast walk. Taking your dog for slightly above a leisurely pace will achieve that. In that range, you WILL lose fat. The downside, you have to do it for a long time. Between 45min - 1hr every workout is the MINIMUM. The longer the better, really. And it works; for months, my weight didn't change no matter how hard I was pushing myself on the treadmill. I put it down to gaining mass from doing weights but it was frustrating. Then I started just walking instead and in my first week, I lost 2kg. Seriously, it works.
When you jog, your heart-rate enters a mode which is 'cardio-vascular'. Basically, jogging lots increases your ability to retain/disseminate oxygen in your body (called the VO2 Max index). So you basically increase your ability to jog for longer period of time. Your body doesn't lose fat. It will only lose fat in jogging if you jog for a REALLY long time (a slow-ish jog for 30 - 45mins) and that's only because your body will eventually lower your heart-rate towards the fat-burning range. Why kill yourself when you don't have to (if your aim is to lose weight)? Walking will eventually start to increase your V02 anyway.
Because I wanted to lose weight AND get fitter, now my workout is to do lots of walking every day and once a week to do a jog in order to shock the body into action. How about WHEN you should do cardio? Ideally, in the morning before you eat so that your body starts on the fat reserves first. If you have food in your stomach, your body will try to get rid of that first. If you do it in the morning, wait about 45 minutes after you finish before you eat. You'll see results quite quickly.
My workout; 1/2 hour of fast walking on a incline on the treadmill at gym and then 30 - 45 mins with the dog when I get home.
Okay here comes the fun bit. My workout is basically a mix of compound exercises with a few isolation exercises. I do 3 x abs exercises and then I hit the weights room and do 3 x exercises each for two different muscle groups (six in total) and have six muscle groups to do in all on a three-day rotation. So basically, on Monday I'll do three chest exercises and three shoulder exercises, on Tuesday I'll do 3 x bicep and 3 x tricep and on Wednesday I'll do 3 x back exercises and 3 x legs. Then repeat (yes I train every day!). You don't need to go every day, though.
A few tips;
- Always do big muscle group exercises first and small ones second. Why? If you fatigue your big muscles in doing the small muscle group exercises, you won't be able to lift as much and won't be getting maximum benefit out of the exercises.
- Combine exercises (big and small muscle groups) with muscles that are near each other. It's why I do triceps and biceps on the same day. Same with chest and shoulders. Basically, when you're doing your chest you're also working the shoulders a little. Vice versa when you then do the shoulders. It basically ensures you're getting as much out of your muscles as you can.
- How do you know how much to lift? First off, a 'rep' is one 'lift' of the weight and a 'set' is a group of reps. For example, in most muscle groups I do 3 sets of 10 reps each. Okay so do a set (say 8 - 12 reps) and if your arm is quivering and fatiguing at, say, 10 you're probably at the right weight. If you can't do 6, drop the weight. If you can do 12 without too much effort, lift more. It's that simple.
- Isolation vs compound exercises; in isolation exercises, you lift weights whilst immobilising the limbs generally so that you target one muscle group. This means you put more pressure on the group and generally-speaking, build lots more muscle. So if you want to get big or sculpt your body, isolation exercises are for you.
Me, I prefer compound exercises when you 'recruit' more muscle groups to do an exercise. The benefit is that you work more muscle groups in the single exercise and overall strength is bettr. Downside, you don't get as 'built' looking.
- Do as many free-weight exercises as you can. The results are better and it means you don't have to wait for machines which are being used quite as much. You can just grab a couple of dumbells and do multiple exercises.
Okay so because I won't presume to tell people what exercises they should do (and it's better for technique if you get shown rather than describe it here), I'll just say what my favourite exercises are in each muscle groups;
Chest; Inclined bench-press. Basically it's a normal bench-press but on a 45 degree angle. It hurts the most but I've gotten the best strength results out of it becase it does upper-chest muscles as well as the usual chest ones.
Shoulders; Shoulder press. You basically use dumbells to push 'upwards'.
Biceps; Dumbell curl. Basically, it hurts the most but your bicep strength increases a lot quite quickly. Ensure you keep your arm 'supine' i.e. wrist facing upwards, not inwards. It's not that important to have strong biceps, though; your triceps are bigger muscles and get used a lot more.
Triceps; Tricep extension. Owwww, but damn it works. As the link says, watch your back, though.
Back; Bent-over row. Does your upper-back, shoulders and side abs so a great versatile exercise. Make sure your not weight-lifting arm is in line with your bent leg and that the barbell is in line with your leg which hangs out to the side. DO NOT twist your back when you lift i.e. keep the shoulders level. Use a mirror to do this.
Legs; Full squat. This one hurts like hell but there's no better leg-exercise. Definitely one to do once you've been doing weights for a while because if your technique is wrong, you'll hurt your back and knees.
So there we have it. I'm sure I'll think of more to say but for now, let's see what everyone else does. I'm really keen to hear because I'm always trying to find ways to make my workout more varied and interesting. Hope this has helped you if you're just getting started too!