Enstrengthening for the unenlightened
March 26, 2013 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I need some ideas that are dead simple and un-screw-up-able for how to balance my cardio program with strength training...at home, without equipment.

I think I've got half of my exercise routine sorted out: I go running most days, at different distances and speeds and elevations. However, I assume I should probably also be doing something in the strength department, both to avoid injury and for my overall fitness. I'm a mid-thirties female with something like 15 to 20 extra pounds on my frame.

The difficulty is that for the life of me I can't really wrap my head around that stuff. I never know what to do, and I am also terrible at keeping a proper form. Worse, I have let my gym membership lapse and will have to do these exercises at home without any special equipment. I have seen body weight exercise charts online and assume that's what I want, but the missing element is a step-by-step routine to tell me when to do each movement, how long, and how often. I would also prefer to avoid things that require rigorous attention to form since I will likely fail at that.

So: does anyone know of a good resource (or even have a ready-made plan you could copy and paste here?) that sets out in the simplest terms what routine a person could do to maintain a minimum level of fitness and balance out the muscles worked by daily jogging? I would prefer to have something online if at all possible, as getting books is not convenient in my current circumstances.

Bonus question: should I also be stretching? Before or after running and/or strength training?
posted by Pomo to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Try You Are Your Own Gym. Its a book and an app (with video) and it's pretty idiot proof and effective. It has several levels of difficulty and you work your way up from total beginner. There is a general one and one for women that does a better job of balancing upper and lower body strength exercises at the various levels for women who've never strength trained.

I got it for something to use traveling but it's become my main workout because it's so simple to follow.
posted by fshgrl at 4:10 PM on March 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

You might like Nike's Training Club app (iOS and Android). They have a bunch pre-programmed workout routines with different focuses and different intensity levels. Some of them require a little bit of equipment, but it's stuff you could easily keep at home (a pair of small weights and a medicine ball). There's photos and videos showing you what to do, and a bunch of different 15, 30, and 45 minute routines. It's all targeted at women and you can unlock additional routines the more you use it.

My understanding is that as long as you warm up and cool down, stretching isn't too important in terms of preventing injury. It is, however, useful for increasing flexibility, and that's most useful while your muscles are already warm.
posted by duien at 4:23 PM on March 26, 2013

Seconding You Are Your Own Gym.
posted by mani at 5:07 PM on March 26, 2013

Have a read through of /r/Fitness FAQ for a general overview of defining your goals and the principles behind training yourself towards achieving them, then check the /r/Bodyweightfitness FAQ for some (pretty much) equipment-free routines. Sound advice on stretching is included in both.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:58 PM on March 26, 2013

I would also prefer to avoid things that require rigorous attention to form since I will likely fail at that.

Attention to form is an inherent part of safe, effective exercise.

2nding /r/bodyweightfitness, which will point you to a variety of other resources.

Stretch after your workout; Starting Stretching is good.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:32 AM on March 27, 2013

You might like the Spark thing that Fitocracy is doing.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 10:41 AM on March 27, 2013

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