Like we talked about last week, this is the season when we start to see things picking back up in the gym. Many are just getting back into things after a summer packed fill of other activities. But for some, it might be the first time in a long while. For a few, it might even be the first time!
Even though everyone’s situation is a little different, we all need a plan. So what’s your main workout goal? Here are some of the reasons people have for getting back in the gym, and a basic game plan.
If you just want to tone up a bit—this is probably the easiest thing to do. All you need to do is add some basic weight training workouts for 30 minutes, three days a week, on M-W-F. It could also be T-TH-SA. Just make sure you get a rest day between.
Start with the machine circuit in your gym. If you’re not sure how to use the machines, get with a trainer or a friend who’s familiar with the equipment. At some point, you might want to add some free weight exercises too. You won’t need to change your diet much, if any. You might want to add some protein however, to support that new muscle!
If you just want to lose a little weight—this is still pretty easy. All it takes is adding 30 minutes of activity every day while keeping your food intake the same. Use the same weight training program outlined above on M-W-F.
On T-TH-SA, do 30 minutes of cardio on the treadmill, elliptical, recumbent bike, upright bike, Schwinn Airdyne, rower, or stair-stepper. It can be 30 minutes on one piece of equipment, or you can break it up. Some people like to do 5 min jogging, 5 min rowing, 5 min on the Schwinn Airdyne, and then repeat it 2 or 3 times.
On the food front, you’ll need to start watching what you eat a little bit. Try to cut back on the things you know you shouldn’t eat (junk foods, candy, pop, etc…). Go for something better instead, most of the time, like fruits and vegetables, and foods with more whole-grains.
With this approach, you’ll see a change in your clothing within a couple weeks. In a month, you can expect to lose 5-10 lbs without too much trouble. The more you do, the quicker you’ll see the results.
If you want to lose lots of weight—this is a pretty tough job but you can do it. The problem is that it takes a lot of work to burn fat that you might have taken years to put on. It also takes a pretty disciplined approach to your eating, because you need to change lots of habits you’ve had for years too.
I like 12 week programs. They’re short enough that you can see the end, but long enough to help you learn some new habits. Follow the same weight loss advice above, but add two other things to your routine: a second workout every day, and a food journal. Set a 12 week goal.
The second workout can actually be the first workout in the day. If you have time, get up 20 minutes earlier and go walk a mile. Most people can do a mile in 20 minutes at a comfortable pace. It doesn’t have to be a hard workout, you’re just trying to burn some calories and get your furnace going for the day.
The daily food journal is important, because it makes you accountable. If you’re high tech, use an app on your smart phone or computer. There are lots of good ones out there like http://www.myfitnesspal.com , http://www.calorieking.com , & http://www.myfooddiary.com .
Write everything down. If you’re not using a program to help you with the calories, get the information off the cans, boxes, and labels or buy a small calorie guide. They’re cheap and will tell you what you need to know.
The main reason you write things down is to become aware of how much you’re eating, and the caloric value of different foods. When you compare it to the amount of calories burned during exercise, you’ll learn that it’s easy to undo a whole workout in just one weak moment!
Over the years, I’ve seen people lose up to 60 lbs in 12 weeks, with 30-40 lbs being pretty common. That was with really hard work, and lots of discipline in their eating.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter which particular diet you follow, or which specific exercise program you use. The main things are that you do something and that you stick with it. Once it stops working for you, change things up a little bit. Things will pick back up for you.
These aren’t the only workout goals people can have. Some want to gain size and strength, some want to get totally ripped, while others might want to prepare for some event like a 5K, obstacle run, Tough Mudder, Half-Marathon, or even a full marathon. More on those goals next week!
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness !