help me strengthen my core and track my workouts.
April 18, 2012 11:27 AM   Subscribe

So I'm getting old and finally joined a gym. Now I need suggestions for some workouts and maybe an android ap for tracking said workouts.

I enjoy riding the bikes and the rowing machine. I now need some workouts for strengthening my core, I think. I have some back issues and have been told that strengthening my core could be good for that. I hated gym class in high school and haven't worked out for the past 10 years, so weight machines are completely foriegn to me. I don't have a workout partner so things I would need a spotter for are kinda out.
I guess my question is do I need to just add some crunches to the begining of my workout? Are there other things to do?
Also is there a good app for android to track my workouts? Most I've found are for serious bodybuilding which is not for me. My gym has activtracks but I haven't signed up for it and don't know what it's about.
posted by Uncle to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A bunch of folks like fitocracy for tracking workouts. There's a MeFi group there.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:44 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

With regards to strengthening your core, I would start out with some planks--I've really been noticing a difference after I started doing them. As for Android apps, I use Fitocracy on the iPhone, and they're coming out with an Android app soon.
posted by Stephanie Duy at 11:47 AM on April 18, 2012

Have you considered squats? They're the big fundamental movement in both Starting Strength and Stronglifts, both of which are programs that emphasize full-body exercises which will absolutely help you gain core strength. It is doubtless that several other people will come into this thread to try to convince you that Starting Strength is a great program, and that is because it works splendidly for people.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:48 AM on April 18, 2012

I also had some back issues in my early 30's, which pretty much disappeared after I started going to a gym. The first gym I ever went to was my local YMCA, which had a few free sessions with a personal trainer; here's what he told me to do.

* 30 minutes of cardio, 3 times a week. The bikes and the rowing machine would do the trick. The rowing is also good for your back, as a bonus.

* Then twice a week, there are 5 machines I visit once each, doing three sets of ten lifts/pushes/whatevers: first the leg press, then a shoulder press, then the lat pull machine, and then I either use the machines that work the biceps and triceps or I just get some little dumbells and do it that way.

* I finish up with about 3 sets of 15 crunches, and call it good.

I technically could be doing more, but doing as little as that has kept my back totally pain-free for four years and counting now.

Any staff member at the gym can show you the proper way to use the machines. Don't worry if you have to start off with only a tiny bit of weight; I do, and that's just that. It's enough to make me feel like I'm doing something, and I'm not looking to get ripped or anything, I'm just trying to stay relatively healthy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:50 AM on April 18, 2012

It's probably not what you want to hear--and it's advice you'll need to be very careful with--but my back has never felt better than when I'm squatting and deadlifting on a regular basis. I've had off-and-on back pain for quite a few years now, but never while I'm lifting regularly.

(Except, of course, when I was careless with the lifting; you should take it very slowly, pay extra attention to your form, and maybe find a competent trainer to show you "how" to do these lifts. Emphasis on "competent.")
posted by uncleozzy at 11:51 AM on April 18, 2012

Are you open to working with/can you afford a training session or two? I have taken classes off and on over the years and through those session I can mix and match a lot of different exercises now. From those sessions I learned that I was doing a lot of exercises "the wrong way" so if you have the privilege of a session or two, I would recommend it.

On another note, a lot of gyms these days have 20-30 minutes circuits of "machines" set up near the cardio floor area. That could be a great way to slowly build up your strength and endurance when it comes to weights in a facilitated manner (and as others above have noted, staff should help you use the machines properly).
posted by anya32 at 12:24 PM on April 18, 2012

ExRx (Exercise Prescription) is one of my favorite resources

Beginner's Page

'Waist' Page with bodyweight exercises on the right.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:52 PM on April 18, 2012

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