Exercise Plan?
October 27, 2008 6:35 AM   Subscribe

I have three days a week and approx. 1 hour 15min. I am about 30 lbs over weight but eating healthy. I know I need to do cardio and I like weights. Anybody have a workout plan that they can suggest for 3 times a week? (I hope to go 4 eventually but this is the time I have). The only exercises I cannot do are military presses do to a rotator cuff issue. So with this limited time and stretching thrown in, what is your advice/opinon? Feel free to share with me your workout program. I am in okay shape but still in the walking stages of cardio. I am rather strong but am not looking to get more muscular....rather to get lean, if possible. I would hire a trainer but cannot afford it at this time.
posted by snap_dragon to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Using dumbbells, I did:

-Shoulder shrugs [3x10]
-Front lateral lifts [3x10, if it wasn't going to kill me]
-Flat chest presses [3x10]
-Flat chest flies [3x10]
-Concentration curls [3x12]
-French presses [3x10]
-Lateral raises [3x10, again, if it wasn't going to kill me]
-Vertical leg crunches [at least 30]
-Squats (may technically be called half-squats, whatever) [3x10]
-Later on, I added some dumbbell lunges [3x8]

I also added push-ups later on, usually 10-15, but it was never a regular part of the routine, sadly.

I know my routine is a little strange, but let me introduce the following caveats--

(1) I was on a low-carb, low-fat, high-protein diet that had me eating no more than 1700 calories a day (sometimes less than 1600). I almost never broke this from July 28 to October 25, and did my workout routine everyday (except in the beginning when I was too sore to do everyday). I went from 231 to 195. Difficult to sustain after the fact, but if you can at least keep up with the weights, it should be tenable to keep the weight off.

(2) I hate hate HATE working out in gyms, so although I was in college and doing a lot of walking (hard to estimate distance), my primary exercise was with two 12-pound weights. The exercises above made up the vast majority of my physical activity.

(3) You can't do these lifting exercises unless you're listening to something exciting (and in my case, vulgar and sexually-tinged, like PEACHES).
posted by Franklin76 at 7:10 AM on October 27, 2008

I forgot to mention--the routine never takes longer than an hour--but I did it EVERYDAY, so you may have to add-on to it if you're only doing it 3x a week. Everyone says ya gotta do cardio...but meh.
posted by Franklin76 at 7:11 AM on October 27, 2008

If you're already "strong", you're not going to see much benefit from some weight work - it only helps weight loss if you're really deficient in muscle tone.

Couch to 5k, no doubt.

If you can swing it, while it's still not-butt-ass-cold, get on a bike.

if possible, split your workouts up into six, half-hour segments. Your metabolism gets up to full potential, and the tail-off - after you stop exercise, your metabolism tapers down to rest rate over an hour or so. Having six of these tail-off periods instead of three, every week, will help a lot.

(I dropped from 194 to 161 in six months, eating like a pig, working out twice a day most days.)
posted by notsnot at 7:43 AM on October 27, 2008

if you have 30 lbs to lose, i suggest you try HIIT

Couch to 5k is good as well, but proper running shoes is a must.
posted by girlthursday at 8:14 AM on October 27, 2008

@notsnot: I signed up just to disagree with your assertion that "you're not going to see much benefit from some weight work." Weight-training circuits + steady cardio are a great way to drop fat.

At first glance, I'd say Rippetoe's Starting Strength works for you, as it helps develop strength during three hour-long sessions weekly. Whether you gain muscle or only strength (there's a distinction!) depend on how many calories you eat. Try replacing the standing military press with a barbell upright row--its not ideal, but it'll hit your shoulders. Check that link to make sure your rotator cuff isn't involved.

After you're acclimated to compound movements, try moving on to this: Destroying Fat. A hybrid strength-fat loss program, you'll maintain strength while losing weight here.

In general, T-Nation is a great place for weight-training information. These programs take time--maybe 3-4 months for both--but you'll see serious results if you train hard and adjust your eating accordingly.
posted by achompas at 8:34 AM on October 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

My recommendation is to do one day of upper body lifting, one day of lower body lifting, and one day of cardio.

Whether your goal be improved health, vanity, or both, the key to success is to forget about weight loss. Losing weight is not the point. Losing fat is. Your goal should be body recomposition, which consists of two things: losing fat, and adding muscle. Doing those two things will get you leaner and healthier and will improve your metabolism, which makes it easier to maintain the fat loss.

The primary goal of weightlifting is to increase your lean muscle mass. You do that by hitting your body hard with basic, compound exercises. Exercises that hit multiple muscle groups at once are better than isolation exercises like bicep curls which only work a single muscle. Compound exercises trigger an overall hormonal response that gets your entire body into overdrive. The same reasoning applies to how much weight you use; you want to use heavy weights with low reps rather than light weights with high reps. Heavy, heavy, heavy, that's the way to go.

The secondary goal is to burn fat—yes, weightlifting is good for fat loss as well—and you do that by working out with great intensity. You can take any weightlifting routine and add a cardio component by shortening the rest time between exercises to keep your heart rate elevated.

Cardiovascular exercise is good for heart and lung health. Elevating your heart rate for a half hour or more on a regular basis will keep your heart in tiptop shape. The most straightforward way to do cardio is to just go jogging, or biking, or swimming, or whatever, for 30+ minutes. And just like lifting, if you want more bang for your buck you can kick up the intensity. The way you do that for cardio is to do high-intensity intervals rather than steady-state work. Sprint for 20 seconds, rest for a minute, repeat 10 times or for 20 minutes.

For cardio it does not matter what type of exercise you do. Anything that gets your heart rate up is good. So do whatever you enjoy best. Personally I can't stand treadmills and stationary bikes, so I joined a group "boot camp" class at my gym. The socializing aspect keeps me coming back.

For weights an upper/lower split is a good start. Your upper body is obviously the more "visible" area, but your lower body is where your bigger muscles are. For each exercise you can start with a 3x10 rep scheme. That means you do 10 reps with as much weight as you can handle so that you are unable to do more than 10. Rest and repeat 2 more times. If you can do more than 12 reps you should bump the weight up. If you can't even do 8 reps, lower the weight.

Upper body
Required: Bench press, rows, (weighted) pull-ups, dips, military press*
Optional: Bicep curls, tricep extensions

*Unless you have a rotator cuff issue...

Lower body
Required: Squats, deadlift, weighted lunges
Optional: Leg press, leg extension, leg curl

You should be able to get in and out of the weight room in 45 minutes or less. Definitely do not go over an hour. And if you're going to stretch, do not stretch before your workout. Do it afterwards. Stretching out beforehand can weaken your muscles and lead to injury.
posted by Khalad at 8:35 AM on October 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

"If you're already "strong", you're not going to see much benefit from some weight work."

That's ridiculous. If you want to not see much benefit, go run every day. Once your weight loss plateaus you will not see any further results aside from being a better runner. Weightlifting is precisely what you need to do if you want to "see" results. Skip the weights and you will end up skinny fat.
posted by Khalad at 8:41 AM on October 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've recommended this so many times here I'm looking like a shill. There are some very good workouts there.
posted by ob at 10:17 AM on October 27, 2008

You can save time by not stretching.

Stretching is a placebo. It has no real benefits.
posted by Zambrano at 10:52 AM on October 27, 2008

Another for "starting strength". Simple workouts (if you get the form down) and amazing results.
posted by aeighty at 10:58 AM on October 27, 2008

Chest and shoulder day -
Bench press,
incline press,
decline press,
2x triceps of some sort like bar dips, skullcrushers or kneeling dumbbell raises
I don't know a safe way to exercise the shoulders that doesn't use the rotator cuff, I'm not a PT so I'm not going to guess over the internets and have you injure yourself, I'm sure something exists though.

Back day -
Front pulldowns.

Leg day -
quad lifts
calf raises

all 3 sets of 8 or so.

Do lifts first for 45mins then do 15-20min of cardio (try and work up to the interval training mentioned above, it's where you weave sprints and jogs)

For you I also might recommend the rowing machine, that is a seriously beastly full-body cardio workout that can use your strength and isn't running. All the rowers I know are really lean.

You say that you are eating right, please make sure that if you want to see weight loss that you keep it that way. Weight loss really is 70-80% diet, time spent in the gym is more of an enabler switch that allows your body to use the diet right. A switch on the wall doesn't do a lot if the power plant is out.
posted by spatula at 11:01 AM on October 27, 2008

Kettlebells. Weights and cardio at the same time.
posted by essexjan at 11:19 AM on October 27, 2008

Rather than worry about hiring a trainer, I would suggest that finding a good training partner will cost less and yield better results. If you can find a friend or loved one with similar training goals who will consistently show up to workout with you, you will make better gains than on your own, or possibly even with some fancy-schmancy skinny trainer. The thing about a partner is that it's probably harder to find a good one than it is to hire a trainer. But if you can find one, they'll be worth it. When you do find one, be sure to be a good training partner and not miss workouts or let your partner get away with less than excellent workouts.

Lots of people like running. I'm not a big fan. I think that lots of people put on a pair of cross-trainers and go out to put in some miles without having any coaching in running technique. It's better to be doing something than nothing, but I also think that you could be hurting yourself if you do this. This is the how I convince myself that not running is okay.

For cardio, I prefer what I call "man-cardio": sled-dragging; dumbbell/kettlebell swings, snatches and cleans; farmer's walks; sandbag walks. All done HIIT style, that is, intense intervals or high effort followed by longer periods of medium intensity. Please note that these can all be done with implements that can be cheaply made at home (I made my sled out of an old wheelbarrow and concrete) or acquired cheaply.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 11:30 AM on October 27, 2008

Stretching is a placebo. It has no real benefits.

Um....yes it does.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 PM on October 27, 2008

If you want to not see much benefit, go run every day. Once your weight loss plateaus you will not see any further results aside from being a better runner.

I'll disagree. I have seen a lot of muscle definition in my calves and quads from running. Especially due to running hills. It doesn't do much for my upper body but it is a great work out for my lower body and for my cardiovascular health.
posted by collocation at 6:53 AM on October 28, 2008

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