Beginners' Weight Program for Runner?
August 22, 2011 2:24 AM   Subscribe

Can anybody recommend a weight training program for a total newbie - something to go with a regular running schedule? Am overweight and trying to lose the pounds - something I've had difficulty doing with only running.

I'd like to start a weight training program that I can do about two or three times a week. I'm already running three times a week, and I'm thinking about doing weights.

I'd just like to lose weight faster; my anecdotal evidence to support this is my freshman year of college, where I lost an incredible amount of weight with a required P.E. weights class on top of my running regimen. While I know I probably won't repeat my quick weight loss of 20 years ago, I'd like to see if adding weights to my current regimen can speed up the process.
posted by micketymoc to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I've recommended it before but I really enjoy the One Hundred Pushups, Two Hundred Situps and Two Hundred Squats programs. They're structured and work for various levels of fitness, plus they're bodyweight exercises so you don't need any equipment, although you can add extra weight if its not challenging enough for you.
posted by missmagenta at 2:56 AM on August 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

Starting Strength seems to be one of the mefi weight lifting answers to questions like these.
posted by quodlibet at 2:58 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding Starting Strength. It's the go-to resource for new-to-intermediate weight lifters.
posted by Tehhund at 3:24 AM on August 22, 2011

Thirding Starting Strength -- check the links posted in this answer.
posted by Zonker at 3:27 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fourthing Starting Strength. Be sure to check out the videos from the wiki.
posted by hooray at 5:29 AM on August 22, 2011

I know your post is about weight training, but you also mentioned generally wanting to lose fat (focus on losing fat not weight!) and how cardio has not been working as well for you. So I'm going to put in a vote here for High Intensity Interval Training. I use this regularly, I primarily work out with no weights (but I will, sixth Starting Strength—the only reason I don't use weights lately is because I have no access to them), and I have kept in amazingly good shape relatively speaking. Although, again, weights are nice and it's impossible to get to the same levels of strength without them—and the more muscle you build, the more you will burn.

One of the reasons that HIIT is great, and one of the reasons that it is great for losing fat, is because, among other things, it bumps up your metabolism in a way that regular cardiovascular exercise cannot, because you are never pushing the ceiling of intensity. And this means that you are burning calories at a higher rate for longer. So coupling HIIT with weight training is pretty killer, and if you add in some cardio routines on a weekly basis you've got a really well-rounded workout that will get you in shape fast (this is more or less how CrossFit is structured, for what it's worth).

Anyways, the reason in particular I bring up HIIT in regards to your question is because you can do ridiculously fast workouts at high intensity and get a tremendous amount out of it. For example, tonight I did a 14 minute workout of 'wall climbs' (got 'em from here). I only managed 35 but I was wiped out. One of my other favorites is multiple sets of Tabata double-unders. That'll wipe you out quick, even after only two Tabata rounds (4 minutes each), if you go full force.

And it goes without saying that diet is key. But I'll let someone else make that speech.
posted by dubitable at 7:37 AM on August 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

At the behest of my rowing coach, I've started doing a CrossFit-esque circuit after running/erging. We'll see what effects it has in the long-run, but it certainly manages to kick my ass every time.

Here's one core workout we did last week:

1. Crunches
2. Flutter Kicks
3. Front Planks
4. Side Crunches
5. Pushups
6. Side Planks
7. Mountain Climbers
8. Burpees

60 seconds of each; 20 seconds rest in between. Do as many reps as you can fit into the interval. Once you're done, rest 5 minutes, and repeat. This sounds (and is) pretty easy the first time around. The second round is brutal, though, especially after coming back from a long run.

So far, I've shed a few pounds, although weight loss wasn't necessarily my goal from the start. All in all, it's working better for me than any previous exercise regimen.
posted by schmod at 7:44 AM on August 22, 2011

StrongLifts is a Starting Strength derivative that I've used with success for years; very easy to follow the program. The website seems more sales-pitchey than it did a couple years ago, but as far as I can tell everything's still free.
posted by Jacen Solo at 10:18 AM on August 22, 2011

iPhone or iPod? - get Skimble (I think there is android also).

It's loaded with tons of 5 min - 1 hr workouts you can do in your home with or without weights. There are also HIIT workouts, it's all just great!
posted by doorsfan at 10:42 AM on August 22, 2011

I agree that if your focus is on fixing your metabolism/BMR as best you can, HIIT might be more effective (and I say this as someone who loves SS). SS has a bit of a learning curve with the form and printing out workouts complete with ramped work sets and all that, and demands you go somewhere with access to a power rack (not always easy to find cheaply and time-efficiently; my gym only has one which means if ANYONE else is there waiting time) 3x a week. HIIT, once you find your program and get a jumprope or whatever, is more malleable/home-friendly and less time consuming when you account for planning/research.

In the SS wiki under the nutrition FAQ it's mentioned that HIIT and SS usually hinder each other in that both slam your legs and doing HIIT will work against your resting time when you're supposed to be building muscle on SS. Not to mention you'll probably want to die you'll be so exhausted doing both, if you're not already athlete-fit. Just to keep in mind.
posted by ifjuly at 11:23 AM on August 22, 2011

oh, and i forgot you're already running too. that faq also mentions running is generally counterproductive with SS for similar reasons as HIIT and SS clashing--you'll be killing the hell out of your legs, esp. your knees, and HIIT and running both work against the muscle-building off days.
posted by ifjuly at 11:26 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

The low rep scheme of Starting Strengh and the High Intensity part of HIIT is exhaustive to your nervous system. It's the reason why you don't do those workouts more than three times a week (see also Plyometrics and such).
If the running is a backup for a program like SS, then keep it as a slow steady state cardio without specific time goals. If you're really looking forward to increasing run times and getting your cardio in shape, then I would say SS isn't conducive to what you're looking for and it's an ill advised recipe for an injury. Especially for someone who isn't in their mid-twenties anymore. You may want to play with increasing the reps a bit and using lighter weight. Some people manage just fine, but as a beginner I would take it a bit slower and work into it.
You ay want to head over to ExRx for some info.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:01 PM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

Do P90X- It really works, requires minimal equipment and produces some serious results. I speak from experience.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:46 PM on August 22, 2011

I just wanted to add that P.o.B.'s advice is really important...I was a bit sloppy in throwing all those things together in my comment. The way you structure your workout plan is hugely important. You won't get any benefits—and may cause yourself harm—if you are just exhausting yourself.
posted by dubitable at 7:53 PM on August 22, 2011

Most of the advice here is pretty good. Just as a note, you should do the old StrongLifts program over the new one, if you choose to do Stronglifts. The additional bodyweight stuff is great for beginners, and the replacement barbell rows are kind of awful.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 11:19 PM on August 22, 2011

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