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August 5, 2011 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Best resource for basic fitness information?

I have recently begun working out to regain my general fitness after a long illness. I had a session with a trainer to get started, and have been doing 3 days a week of weights on a Nautilus circuit, and 3 days a week of cardio on a treadmill. I'm really enjoying it, but I find that I have a lot of very basic questions as I go. Things like: What is the right pace to lift at? When are the signals that I am ready to increase speed or maxiumum incline on my walk? Between workouts, what signals in my body tell me I'm working hard enough but not too hard? During a workout, how much disomfort is OK, versus a signal that I'm doing too much? Someday I will reach a point where I'm looking to maintain rather than continue building strength; how do I do that? And so on.

I'm not looking for you folks to answer these questions; I'm looking to be pointed to a good resource for these kinds of answers. It might be a book or a website. Weight loss is not a primary goal for me right now, and too much focus on weight loss is not great for my mental health, so I'd love a resource that mentions that only incidentally rather than emphasizing it, if possible.
posted by not that girl to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Stumptuous is a pretty good resource.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:10 AM on August 5, 2011

Honestly, for most of those questions, your best resource will be a fitness-savvy buddy who can talk to you during the workout and give you feedback. (Trainers are fine too, but obviously way more expensive than a friend.) There's no real useful way to describe how you should feel at any point in a workout, because it depends so much on your current fitness level, what activity you're doing, what your goals are, etc. (Although sharp pain, joint pain, and chest pain are all STOP NOW signs in general.)

Otherwise, Stumptuous is great, and I've gotten some use out of the John Stone Fitness forums (although most serious weightlifting types will strongly recommend free weights over machines. There are reasons.) You might poke around on some running forums and find one that has a beginners section to talk about cardio stuff - sorry I don't have more specific recommendations for that.

In general (and speaking as someone who has spent the past six months trying to regain fitness after health issues too) there's no harm in taking it super slow - even slower than you think you should, particularly at first. You'll be much better off taking longer to get fit than if you hurry and relapse or injure yourself.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:10 AM on August 5, 2011

If you can afford it, the personal trainer is excellent for teaching you how to recognize the types of cues and signals you're talking about. Any chance you could buy a set of, say, 5 or 10 sessions? One is really not enough to take advantage of the knowledge of a good one.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 9:11 AM on August 5, 2011

Chest pain could be a "STOP NOW" sign or it could not. It could be caused by sore pectorals or it could be caused by heart troubles. Or indigestion.

Joint pain could be caused by overused tendons (not so serious) or dislocated joints (very serious) etc.

Sharp pains are an obvious sign of distress that ought to be monitored closely.

Honestly, a lot of this stuff entails listening to your body and learning from experience. Stumptuous, linked to above, is a good site, though its focus seems to be free weights, more so than machine weights. Free weights are a more effective way to exercise, but a lot of women avoid them under the mistaken belief that they will all end up looking like bodybuilders.
posted by dfriedman at 9:31 AM on August 5, 2011

I recommend the free downloadable Brain Over Brawn to anyone wishing to get themselves started on a fitness program and get reasonable, factual, no-hyped exercise and nutrition knowledge.
posted by Anonymous at 10:32 AM on August 5, 2011

posted by P.o.B. at 12:12 PM on August 5, 2011

try the fitness reddit
posted by Avenger50 at 3:36 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

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