Optimize my cardio, Hivemind Trainers
May 2, 2010 6:39 PM   Subscribe

I've been fairly successful with my diet/exercise plan since mid March, but I know I could be doing better. Tips?

Read a lot of good threads here so I know the hivemind has some good thoughts on exercise, so be my virtual personal trainer, please? :-)

early-mid March, I got on the scale and saw a number that horrified me. It prompted me to join Weight Watchers and then several weeks later, a gym. In seven weeks I'm down 22 lbs and happy with that as sustainable loss because I'm making changes I can do long term.

My diet could still be improved (whose can't) but it's a lot better than it was and it's getting better. Overall, I could do with more protein but I'm happy with the progress I'm making on that front so I'm asking about exercise.

On weekdays I aim to burn ~250-300 calories and weekends, 500-700 as measured by a heart rate monitor with a chest strap so it's accurate. If I can't make it to the gym I use the wii fit and do exercises at home including the 200situp, 100 push up challenges. I'm limited in what I can do here due to small space for both moving and storing "stuff" so I'm focused more on the gym. Today for example I did: 25m elliptical (been increasing that), 10m row (1500 meters) and 25m recumbent bike. The row is lower than normal because my shoulder is sore and I didn't want to overdo. That's fairly typical of a weekend day. No weight training today because I did that yesterday. Usually rowing is longer, bike, which is my cooldown, is shorter.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Optimizations? Should I try for more on the weekends? When I get to the gym on weekdays it's usually just one machine due to time. I have yet to take a class because I'm worried I can't keep up, but I'd like to try spinning one day ditto the body sculpt class. I took advantage of the free personal training sessions and she taught me some good exercises but I can't afford ongoing personal training.

Only thing I CAN'T do is run. Not cleared to by my orthopedist and really trying to avoid 2nd knee surgery. I'm cleared to do all else so long as it's not very high impact, the issue with running.

Thanks all!
posted by TravellingCari to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Definitely try the spin class. (Worst case scenario, you hate it and you don't go back.) Some tips from my experience... Make sure the bike is adjusted properly to your body. The instructor should be able to get you set-up, and it'll be good for him/her to know it's your first time at the class. The seat might make you a little uncomfortable at first, but most people say that feeling goes away after a few classes. Also, no one knows what the resistance level is except you - so increase/decrease it as necessary. Don't feel embarrassed at all. Watch your heart rate monitor to make sure you're not over-doing it. I recommend bringing more water than you think you'll need (at least initially). I brought one 24 oz bottle my first time and halfway through I was rationing the last little bit to stretch it to the end of the class. Now I bring two of those water bottles - sometimes I go through less than one, sometimes one and a half. But it's better to have extra than wishing you had more.
posted by Terriniski at 7:05 PM on May 2, 2010

Best answer: Spin classes are great. My gym offers a Spin 101 class for beginners. It's a shorter ride (usually 30-45 minutes), and the instructor focuses a lot on helping build endurance. If your gym offers something like that, check it out. Otherwise, it sounds like you have the endurance for a full hour long class. Just let the instructor know that it's your first time, and he/she will help you set up and give you some tips on riding. The great thing about Spinning is there's no pressure to keep up with anyone. You can go at your own pace. Oh, and Terriniski is right about the water. Take two water bottles with you, just in case. Also, bring a towel.

Out of curiosity, what is your weight training like? Do you do a full body workout, or just work different muscle groups on different days? What kinds of exercises are you doing?
posted by lexicakes at 8:42 PM on May 2, 2010

Is there any reason you can't buy a bicycle and get your exercise outdoors?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:55 AM on May 3, 2010

Best answer: Just a note that 200 situps seems excessive. Consider taking a pilates class as they tend to do a number of different exercise to work your core. You won't do even 50 of anything, but your abs will get a better workout, as you'll be working out a wider range of core muscles.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:02 AM on May 3, 2010

Best answer: There's a bunch of goofy-sounding fitness-magazine-type little stuff like sitting on an exercise ball at work and parking in the far end of parking lots and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Are you already doing a bunch of that?
posted by box at 5:32 AM on May 3, 2010

Best answer: You've lost 22 pounds in about 8 weeks. That's a lot of weight loss very quickly, beyond what most experts consider sustainable. Give yourself a break. It sounds as though you may be risking injury, and at the very least, you're risking burnout. Keep doing what you're doing and try not to be so hard on yourself.
posted by decathecting at 7:07 AM on May 3, 2010

Best answer: To optimize exercise for weight loss, make sure you do interval training. In other words, insert 1-2 minute spurts of intense exercise into your regular routine. Interval training torches calories and fat!
posted by mintchip at 7:13 AM on May 3, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all - some good ideas. My apartment is a walk up so I use the stairs there and do a lot of walking because I live in NYC. Unfortunately we're not allowed to use the stairs in the building ut I make up for it with lots of subway stairs.

I don't think there's a beginners' spin class but I'll look into it, or do what you both said re: letting the instructor know. Lexi, my weight training is a circuit on the machines with limited lower body (i.e. no leg press) because of my knee. I do shoulders, biceps, hip adductor/abductor, chest and.. I forget some of them. Don't have my sheet in front of me with the machine names.

Computech: I'd have no where to store the bike and riding in NYC terrifies me. I've paid for the gym and don't mind using it. Maybe if I ever moved out of the city.

Guitar: Thanks for the pilates idea. I'm not going to get anywhere near 200 situps any time soon but I needed something to do more than my standard.

Decathe - it's skewed by 13 lbs in the first two, mostly water weight. Since then it's basically within the WW . 5 - 2lbs week and leveled off to a steadier and more sustainable loss. I'm certainly watching out for injury - just wanted to know if there was something different/better I should be doing.

Mint - I'll look into interval, thanks!
posted by TravellingCari at 8:09 AM on May 3, 2010

Best answer: Weight loss is 85-90% diet. As long as you are doing any form of cardio, it's fine. If you want to spend any mental energy and effort optimizing something, spending it planning meals and counting calories will give you 10x the results of changing elliptical to biking or whatever.

That being said, I agree that interval training will give you the best results. Aim for 45s - 60 of strenuous activity, followed by 5 minutes of low activity. If you listen to music while working out, a good way to do this is make an 'interval' music track, where you cut in exactly one minute of a loud, hard energetic song, then 5 minutes of something else, and whenever you hear the loud beat come on do a power 30 while rowing or sprint on the bike, then as soon as the regular music comes back you can coast.
posted by spatula at 11:49 AM on May 3, 2010

Response by poster: spatula: thanks each week or two in Weight Watchers I have a new plan to tackle. First it was getting in the good health guidelines, especially dairy and oils. Then battling sodium. My next is to try and pre-plan my meals more.

Good idea re: loud track, hadn't thought of that.
posted by TravellingCari at 5:45 PM on May 3, 2010

Response by poster: Just a follow up as I mark this resolved. I've added in some interval training and that's really helping in improving my fitness. Down just over 35 lbs now (down to a sane 2.4/week since mid March) and loving my progress.

Thanks again all
posted by TravellingCari at 5:36 PM on June 20, 2010

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