Help me work out my gym routine .
November 11, 2008 4:59 PM   Subscribe

I am getting to the end of my weightloss programme (62lb gone, 9 to go before healthy BMI), go to the gym 3+ times a week, and am wondering if I should consider optimising the gym part for something other than calorie burn. Exercise geeks, please read the more inside and give me some advice...

Right now, a long gym session is 30m X-train, 15-30m stepper, 5m hand bike and 5m row, with 240 varied (straight, each side, legs up, sets of 30) situps twice a week for core stuff. I've been upping the "levels" and I now do the step and X-train on "hills" setting about level 12 so (looking over the shoulders of others) I figure I'm quite fit. But I don't do weights. The 5m on handbike and row is because I find them really boring, so I do short on high resistance rather than anything longer. Maybe once a week I swim a km breast stroke. Should I introduce resistance training? Why?

My aim is to be fit and to keep fit and to generally be healthier - I'm not interested in building bulk, and I'm not training for any event. I'm sort of worried about getting in a rut, but I quite like what I'm doing now.
posted by handee to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fatty tissue, the less fat and more muscle you have on your body the easier it will be to keep the weight off, even when easing off the strict diet you might be on just now. More muscle means more calories shed, even when resting.
posted by fire&wings at 5:09 PM on November 11, 2008

Fearing bulk is one of the biggest mistakes many gym goers make. Lifting weights is one of the most important things you can do in the gym for a variety of reasons. You build bone density, you retain muscle mass as you get older, you become stronger, and as you lose bodyfat, you look great and not just "skinny fat". You don't suddenly become the hulk because you start lifting weights. Building muscle mass is very difficult for most and takes serious effort, so it's unlikely that adding some weights will make you huge, although some people do have that genetic benefit. Also keep in mind, that if lifting iron is not your thing, you can perform a variety of bodyweight exercises as well as utilizing devices such as sandbags and medicine balls. Ross Enamait has a great site and some wonderful books on the subject. Be sure to check out his forums as well. To avoid falling in a rut, mix things up and add a variety of exericses and venture outside of the gym as well. Remember, its the quality of the workout and not the quantity.
posted by scarello at 5:12 PM on November 11, 2008

As I was nearing my weightloss goal (losing around 100 lbs), I added weights to my workouts gradually. Once I was done with my weightloss, I switched over to weight training and kept cardio as a twice-a-week affair. I wouldn't call my body bulky, just a lot more toned with quite some muscle showing up in places which makes me look a lot better. Never been happier with my body.
posted by cyanide at 5:33 PM on November 11, 2008

Scarello nails it. There are all kinds of benefits to resistance training besides looking good naked. In order to bulk, you would have to have a fairly significant increase in calories along with heavy duty weight training, so it's not like it happens accidentally.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 5:55 PM on November 11, 2008

I'm just here to third scarello.
posted by ob at 7:06 PM on November 11, 2008

I started it 2 weeks ago and I've added 30 lbs to my squats, and 15 to my bench and overhead press.
You can download an ebook and a spreadsheet that helps you progress.
posted by senseigmg at 7:52 PM on November 11, 2008

Thanks for the advice so far. I've got the stronglifts ebook and I've browsed Enamait's site and i have a slight fear: I really don't want to get "built". I'm already fairly muscular for a woman.

The Stronglifts ebook, right under Results You Can Expect.
"Muscle Gains. Legs, chest, shoulders & arms get bigger. Clothes feel different. People
start asking questions. Some gain 25lbs the 1st month by eating lots of healthy foods
while doing StrongLifts 5×5."

This is so not what I want. The rest of the outcomes sound brilliant, but that? Not so much. I'm quite butch enough already!!
posted by handee at 12:23 AM on November 12, 2008

You need to read a little more and educate yourself on physiology and exercise. Your fears are completely unfounded. Re-read what you just posted...see where stronglifts states "eating LOTS of healthy foods"? Well, that's part of the equation when it comes to bulking up. If you are not eating for muscle mass, you won't gain muscle mass. Also, 25lbs of muscle in a month is a little outrageous and usually does not happen to someone unless they are a genetic freak or on drugs. Also, as a woman, it's alot more difficult to gain hulk sized muscles due to the fact that you have lower testosterone levels than the average man. That all being said, if you take the time to read and research, you will learn that there are a variety of approaches for your needs and you don't need to lift like a bodybuilder or powerlifter to reap the benefits.
posted by scarello at 6:29 AM on November 12, 2008

First off, congratulations on your progress. That's tremendous!

I wouldn't take The Stronglifts' outlandish claims seriously. Gain 25 pounds of muscle in month? That's ridiculous. It's pandering to the folks that do want to "get built."

Resistance training will be good for you. You don't have to keep upping the weights and push harder and harder. Just getting some isolated exercises will help build bone and muscle density (not necessarily size) and help prevent injury. Those more dense muscles will burn more calories. Plus, its not like it happens *immediately*. If you start to notice unwanted changes in your appearance, you can stop or change what you're doing.

I'd also recommend attention to flexibility. Bikram yoga, though expensive and sometimes uncomfortable, is fantastic.

Anything you can do to keep it up forever? That's the trick. Don't want to slide back to where you were.
posted by GPF at 6:29 AM on November 12, 2008

Yes -- weights!

Congratulations, you're doing amazingly well. 3x/week is good, but if you can squeeze another gym session in, that would be even better.
posted by Miko at 7:06 AM on November 12, 2008

For all the reasons above, you need to add strength training. As a woman, you should be all the more interested in preventing bone loss as you age. Stay away from the body-building books. What you need for starters is something beginner-friendly. One of my favorites is Weight Training for Dummies. It's well-written by two female experts, and it should go a long way toward allaying your fears of turning into Xena. Good luck!
posted by Shoggoth at 7:17 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, check out The New Rules of Lifting for Women. An excellent discussion of weight training for women, which also addresses the fear of bulking.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 9:34 AM on November 12, 2008

I realize this is late, but Mistress Krista's site is a great resource. Under "Starting" there is a link called "Lies in the Gym" that reassures about women not getting bulky without the help of drugs.
posted by weathergal at 7:13 PM on November 12, 2008

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