Welcome to the Fitness Forum! Here is the place to ask any question you might have about how to incorporate activity into your healthy lifestyle.
Generic caveat: There is a difference between efficiency and long-term effectiveness when it comes to exercise and dieting. Crash diets don't work, crash fitness programs don't work. What does work over the long haul is to incorporate activity into your lifestyle as a regular thing. So keep in mind that exercise efficiency is secondary to exercise consistency, and that crosstraining and doing more than one thing works better than sticking to a single activity. You wouldn't eat only oatmeal for the rest of your life as a "diet", you shouldn't only run or lift weights as your only exercise.
How much of each kind of exercise you should do depends entirely on your goal - if you want to run a marathon you should do minimal (but some) weights, if you want to deadlift twice your bodyweight you should only do minimal (but some) cardio.
So formulate a goal - find something you want to do that sounds fun to you, and we'll help you reach that goal.
Also, keep in mind:
Rule 1: Everything you do will have some effect on your body.
Rule 2: Not all effects on your body are useful - in relation to your goal.
Rule 3: The default assumption is that you're training for fat loss. If you aren't, specify it in your question so we know what goal you have and can assess whether what you're doing is useful in the context of your goal.
We are truly fortunate that there are plenty of intelligent Fitness Forum regulars who are fantastic about answering any question you might have.
Please spend some time familiarizing yourself with some of the existing threads in the forum, as they contain an incredible wealth of information.
Also, keep in mind that successful, long-term weight management is a matter of long term behavior change rather than any specific exercise method. So the first place to start would be with the revised and expanded Calorie Count "diet" - exercise is part of a successful weight loss strategy, but it's definitely the junior partner to dietary change. Simply put, you cannot out-train your diet.
To get you started, here are some links to popular and informative existing threads by topic:
Also, keep in mind that I've stickied the injury prevention principles for a reason - work with your body, don't brutalize yourself. And watch out for overtraining- if you push yourself beyond what your body can recover from before your next workout, you're working too hard. This can be a good thing if you're doing planned overreaching and incorporating the two-factor model of fitness into your workouts, but if you never let yourself recover you will overtrain and run your body into the ground. Not at all healthy, so don't do it, mmm'kay? And keep in mind that it's good to have Training cycles and seasonal training goals - your body can't get better at everything at once.
What (and when) to eat before/after a workout?
I II III
Target Heart Rate:
For weight loss
Fat burn zone
How to determine your maximum heart rate
Your workout Music
Favorite workout music?
Good workout Music?
Best Workout Songs?
Lets talk workout MUSIC!
I need new Workout music for my MP3!
Favorite Workout Music!
I admit it, I'm a nerd. I think that the more you know about how your body works the better - and the easier it will be for you to pick a training program that will help you reach your personal goals while staying healthy. To keep this FAQ readable, check Melkor Geeks Out: add your favourite study! for lots and lots of little factors to keep in mind if you're concerned about optimizing your performance.
HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT as Key to Weight Loss
HIIT - all or nothing?
The HIIT thread - Post all questions, routines, and experiences here
CC Cycling Club
Tips for new cyclists, and purchasing a bike: I II III IV
Slim in Six
Anyone planning on starting Power 90?
Turbo Jam Turbo Jam II
Ellipticals and cross trainers:
How effective is the elliptical
running vs. elliptical
elliptical versus treadmill/running
Elliptical and stationary bike workout-as good as the treadmill?
-Purchasing one for the home:
Elliptical recommendation please?
Questions about elliptical trainer
The most common problem with ellipticals:
Anybody get numb feet on the elliptical?
numb toes from elliptical
numb feet on the elliptical
Mission: Run Around the World
Learn To Run
Learn to Run - AGAIN - want to do this with me?
CC Track Club
Teen Running Club
Running with the right APPAREL
Question about intervals
No business running (without this) workout
Fish back in water! Swim to get in shape
Swimming to lose weight
Rowing for weight loss?
wii fit anyone?
Why can't this extra fat be used to build my muscles?
Weight Lifting Directory
Women's Weight Lifting
Sets to gain strength
Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle
Gaining muscle while dieting
Do the squats/lunges in aerobic workouts count as strength training?
6 to 8 reps or 8 to 12 reps or 10 to 15 reps does it matter
Help with weight training routine
Strength Training advice
Yoga & Pilates:
Is Pilates training enough for fat loss?