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Starting a gym this week - what should my routine be?


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I'm starting a new gym next week and need to put together a routine or plan of action when I'm at the gym.   I am about 50 lbs over weight right now so obviously my main purpose of going is to lose weight. 

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Congrats on deciding to take action. Getting back into shape is the hardest part. However, once you get past the first few months, the routine becomes easier and a part of your daily life.

Now the first thing you need to do before coming up with a gym routine is to re-work your nutrition plan. That is most important. It won't matter how much time you spend in the gym if your nutrition is off. Your diet should consist of 50% protein (builds muscle) 30% good carbs, and 20% healthy fats. You are going to want 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (lean sources like chicken, tuna, turkey, eggs, etc). I also recommend a good Whey Protein powder. It is hard to get all the protein you need from just regular food. Secondly, make sure you are eating good, complex carbs from whole grains (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, etc) and vegetables. You want 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight  Finally get some healthy fats in there from sources like almonds and peanut butter. You are probably thinking - "Won't eating too much food make me gain weight?" Not if you eat the right foods spread out in 5-6 small meals per day. You want your metabolism to speed up. I recommend 2500-3000 calories per day of the right type of foods and drink a lot of water.

Take one cheat day per week (Mine is Sunday when I don't exercise) to eat what you want in moderation. You can have a soda, a small pizza, a bacon cheeseburger, etc.. Just make sure to do it in moderation on that day and follow your nutrition plan for most of the day. Two small cheat meals is fine. This helps mix up your metabolism a bit and it helps with cravings. If you try to eat perfectly 24-7, you will eventually start binging which is what you don't want.

Pre-Workout Nutrition : 50 to 75 grams complex carbs (see above) and 20-30 grams protein 60-90 minutes before the workout. You want the energy to make it through the whole workout.

Post Workout Nutrition : 40-60 grams of protein and 50-80 grams of carbs within 30-60 minutes of finishing. This would be a good time to have the Whey Protein to get it in to the muscles as soon as possible.

Secondly, you need a good strength training regimen. Lift intensly for 45-60 minutes 3 days a week. Mon (Chest/Triceps), Wed (Legs/Biceps), and Fri (Shoulders/Back). Make sure to alternate exercises every 2-4 weeks so your body doesn't adapt. On your upper body days (Mon/Fri) do 20-30 minutes of steady state cardio afterwards. This can be anything from power walking on a treadmill to using the eliptial machine. Try to get your heart rate in 60-75% of its maximum. You want to make sure that you never exceed 75 minutes in the gym. If you go any longer, your body will start to go on the defensive and feed off of muscle.

On non lifting days (Tues/Thurs/Sat) make sure to do HIIT cardio. HIIT cardio (High Intensity Interval Training) is done by combining short periods going extremely hard (10-30 secs) combined with recovery periods at a slower pace (40-90 secs). Do a 3 minute warm up at a steady pace, and then go into the first "sprint" phrase followed by the first recovery phase. Then keep switching off between sprint and recovery for 20 minutes. Then do a 5 minute cool down. By constantly changing speeds, your body never adapts and your metabolism gets sped up considerably for hours and hours (sometimes days) after the exercise. HIIT specifically targets bodyfat. The cool thing about HIIT training is that it can be done in a variety of different ways. Personally, I prefer sprinting. However, it can be done on a treadmill, stairmaster, elipitical, bike, etc.. As long as you are switching between fast and slow intervals. It is great as a whole because it is the most effective, and you are only doing it for 25 minutes total 3 times per week. Some people spend hours and hours of doing steady state cardio and never get any results.

Finally, take one day per week (Sunday) where you do no exercise whatsoever. Make this your lazy rest day.

So make sure you follow a good nutrition program, hit the weights hard, and do HIIT cardio. As long as you aren't messing up too much on your diet, you will begin to see noticeable results. I wish you the best.

Maybe I should have said I'm a female???

The concepts are exactly the same with men and women. The only thing that would change would be the amount of calories you consume. HIIT cardio is the way to go because you only do it 3 times per week @ 25 minutes a session, and lifting for 3 days a week will give you the lean muscle you need to tone up and lose the weight you want.

Yes, training for men and women is pretty much the same. In fact, the plan that I'm following right now (New Rules of Lifting for Women) has the subtitle: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess.

I'd actually recommend looking up that book - it's got a lot of good information about working out, as well as diet, and a workout routine that will take you several months to complete and keep challenging you.

I'm not sure that I agree with the routine that vyper is recommending. For instance, the lifting is organized as a body part split, which might be really good for chemically enhanced body builders, but for a newbie to weight lifting, a full body workout, or at most upper/lower split is going to be a lot better. I mean, having only 1 day for lower body, but two for upper body? And how do you work out your back without working your biceps (and if biceps are the only upper body part getting worked on Wednesday, that pretty much ensures that you're doing isolation movements).

Also, vyper, it's good to remember that lots of people on this site are just starting their weight loss/fitness process, and might be a little overwhelmed by what you are suggesting - these things take time, and I'd hate the idea of someone who is just starting out to feel like if they don't make all the changes you are recommending, they aren't going to be successful. Telling someone who hasn't set foot in a gym to do HIIT can be pretty overwhelming and if they are new to calorie counting, mandating a specific balance of carbs and protein isn't the most helpful advice.

Yeah I am definitely not an expert or a trainer. I was just trying to list what has been successful for me and stuff that I have read/studied on the net. The reason I listed protein/carbs, etc is because when you calorie count, it tends to have a negative effect on your metabolism which can do more harm than good. I wanted to point out some tips that would lead to better eating habits which would coincide better with fitness.

You seem like a very knowledgeable person yourself so it was cool to see where you were coming from as well. I have to learn to get better about not trying to force my views on everyone... :) I just get excited because I have had such good results, and I spent years working out not really getting anywhere.

Original Post by vyperman7:

 I just get excited because I have had such good results, and I spent years working out not really getting anywhere.

Totally get that :) A lot of people like to put this stuff in their profile or journal, so that they can reference it - kinda "hey - i've had great results doing lifting and hiit - check out my profile for details on what i do."

And I think your general outline (diet, strength, hiit) is great - have you read Hierarchy of Fat Loss - it's right up your alley.

Well my suggestion would be to talk to a trainer at the gym. Those are professionals.  I'm friends with several trainers and they can work with you to get you into the right routines that you want to change your body into what you want it to be.  They can also show you proper techniques so you don't end up hurting yourself and getting discouraged.  Don't take on too much at once, especially if your just starting because you'll just get discouraged.  I'd tell you my routine but I'm trying to improve in running and I only work my upper body in strength training at the moment.  You may want to target different areas.  Def. talk to a trainer...even if you have to pay a little extra.  It is WORTH it, and so is your health.

-Susan

I have several recommendations:

1.  Talk to your doctor first.  Get a baseline where you are physically at today.

2.  Talk to a professional trainer.  Let them help you establish something.

3.  Listen to your body.  If it hurts there is a reason.

4.  Dont measure success by what others do - but measure it by what YOU do!

I lost 70 lbs in a year and I can tell you what worked for ME but I made mistakes.  If you want to know how I managed to do it then I will be more than happy to share.  I wish you best and good luck on your quest!

Dave

Don't make it too much of a routine! If you don't change up your exercises, your body will become used to them and it will not longer benefit from it really. I used to belong to a gym (but I left, which was when I actually lost the weight - ironic) and I think I suffered because I kept doing the same routines everyday.

So make sure you are always trying new machines or trying new strength training. It helps! You must confuse your body and challenge it.

Original Post by vyperman7:

You are going to want 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (lean sources like chicken, tuna, turkey, eggs, etc).

 Holy crap.

If I ate that much protein in a day I wouldn't have any calories for anything else.  That "guideline" is either way-excessive or meant  only for body-builders.

 

Original Post by carrie33:

Original Post by vyperman7:

You are going to want 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (lean sources like chicken, tuna, turkey, eggs, etc).

 Holy crap.

If I ate that much protein in a day I wouldn't have any calories for anything else.  That "guideline" is either way-excessive or meant  only for body-builders.

 

Hmmm, even if you weighed 200 lbs, that would be 200 grams of protein, which comes out to 800 calories.  It doesn't need to be the only thing you eat.

Some people say 1 gram of protein per pound, others say 1 gram per pound of your goal weight.  Either way, the average dieter would benefit from getting more protein. 

Original Post by carrie33:

Original Post by vyperman7:

You are going to want 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (lean sources like chicken, tuna, turkey, eggs, etc).

 Holy crap.

If I ate that much protein in a day I wouldn't have any calories for anything else.  That "guideline" is either way-excessive or meant  only for body-builders.

 

 I really isn't that hard, I weigh 223 and want to get down to around 205 and 10-12%BF and I eat 2300-2500 calories a day and get around 220-230 grams of protein a day.  I am male btw.

I thought it was ~1g of protein for every pound of lean bodyweight...?

And re: what lalalacheesejah (that's a fun name to type) said, you do want to change your routine from time to time but there's nothing wrong with sticking to the same strength training exercises as long as you keep them challenging - i.e. upping the weight as your body adapts.

Original Post by aidancolin:

Original Post by carrie33:

Original Post by vyperman7:

You are going to want 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (lean sources like chicken, tuna, turkey, eggs, etc).

 Holy crap.

If I ate that much protein in a day I wouldn't have any calories for anything else.  That "guideline" is either way-excessive or meant  only for body-builders.

 

 I really isn't that hard, I weigh 223 and want to get down to around 205 and 10-12%BF and I eat 2300-2500 calories a day and get around 220-230 grams of protein a day.  I am male btw.

Being male makes a bit of difference.  I weigh about 200 pounds but only eat 1500 calories a day.  If 200 grams of protein is around 800 calories as someone suggested, that would be over half of my daily intake.  Most experts say about 15-30% of your daily calories should be protein.  As long as you're eating a varied and nutritious diet, no one's going to suffer from a protein deficiency in the western world.

It just depends on what your goals are, if they are to gain or maintain muscle, which helps with fat loss so your body burns more calories then you do want 1 gram of protein per lb. of body weight.  If you are lifting 3 days a week heavy which everyone should man or woman and also doing 3 days of cardio then you should be able to consume 1600-1700 calories anyway and still lose fat since your burn is so high from the activities you are doing.  Since you are eating that much you should be able to get in somewhere around 200 grams of carbs, I would say at least 150 grams of protein and throw in 3-5 servings of veggies and a couple servings of fruit.  Throw in about 40-60 grams of unsaturated fats and you are right on track.  It can easily be done and you may even like it better cause you can eat more!

This is really interesting.  Sorry for being dumb, but can I ask for a bit more help on this diet point?  I weigh 245 lbs (have already lost 95lbs).  I started lifting weights a month ago and the biggest weight I've lifted is 15kg (33lb) in the chest press, and I can barely lift that. (I know, it's embarrasing compared to most people!)   I do cardio and have been trying my own  version of interval training in power walking or swimming and, though neither is going to break any world records, it does seem to be working re weight loss.  But...... I'm currently eating under 100g of protein a day (my split is on average 40% carbs; 35% fats; 25% protein).  I now realise I need to  change that balance but for me to eat 245g of protein would mean a radical change in a diet.  I can't imagine how I could get that much protein into my diet without blowing my 1500-1600 daily calorie limit and without eating much more fat.  (I can't eat nuts, btw). Any advice gratefully received. 

MC

 

 

 

 

 

Original Post by mcdh1:

This is really interesting.  Sorry for being dumb, but can I ask for a bit more help on this diet point?  I weigh 245 lbs (have already lost 95lbs).  I started lifting weights a month ago and the biggest weight I've lifted is 15kg (33lb) in the chest press, and I can barely lift that. (I know, it's embarrasing compared to most people!)   I do cardio and have been trying my own  version of interval training in power walking or swimming and, though neither is going to break any world records, it does seem to be working re weight loss.  But...... I'm currently eating under 100g of protein a day (my split is on average 40% carbs; 35% fats; 25% protein).  I now realise I need to  change that balance but for me to eat 245g of protein would mean a radical change in a diet.  I can't imagine how I could get that much protein into my diet without blowing my 1500-1600 daily calorie limit and without eating much more fat.  (I can't eat nuts, btw). Any advice gratefully received. 

MC

 

 

 

 

 

 Sounds like you are doing everything right!  Congrats on all of the success!  I would try to eat the amount of protein = to your goal weight so if your goal weight is 150 eat 150 grams of protein.  I personally would eat just a little more if I could get it in with regards to my calorie limit.

How many reps are you doing with the chest press example, you said it was challenging but is that for 1 rep or 10?  I would suggest not doing anymore than 8 reps of anything and preferably 5-6 with those last reps being very hard.  Your body learns how to recruit more muscle fibers in those heavy low rep ranges.  Which means more muscle will be retained while in a calorie deficit, which means more fat lost, and more calorie burn throughout the day.  Plus you will look better with more muscle and definition!

Original Post by mcdh1:

I know, it's embarrasing compared to most people! 

 That's why you shouldn't compare yourself to most people.  The only people it's worth comparing yourself to are you yesterday, you last week, you a month ago, you a year ago, etc.

And 1500-1600 calories for a 245 lb man who's working out as much as you are is probably way to low.

^^ Couldn't agree more with sully.

Hi - I should probably have mentioned that I'm a 48-year old woman who was pretty much totally sedentary until last August when I started this new lifestyle. 

Aidancolin - the trainer at my gym set me doing 2 x 12 reps.  I have been pressing 10kg (my gym only has dumbells, no barbell) but last time in I moved up to 15kg (2x7.5kg).  I could just make it to 10 reps on the bench and dumbell row but could only manage 5 on biceps.  I have a shoulder problem so am using very low weights on those.  I'll have a go at doing fewer reps with heavier  weights, so thanks for the advice.  And I'll try to build up to 1g of protetin per lb of goal weight. 

Sully - thanks for the pep talk.  I don't really compare myself to others IRL as the only other people who lift weights in my gym are young men and they lift weights the size of my head.  It's just that as a beginner I was slightly wary of venturing into the fitness forum here where there are some serious lifters but people are very gracious and generous with their knowlege and experience.

MD

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