Help me add more structure to my fitness routine
March 17, 2015 3:27 PM   Subscribe

I have been working out at home regularly (4-5 times a week) for the past several months, following some specific routines. I'd like some input on how to improve my routine and mix it up in the most efficient way to meet my goals.

Female, thirties, with a decent base fitness, built mostly around cardio stuff. I used to be an active runner for some years, got a bit bored with it, and I was lost for a while regarding an alternative fitness routine. Tried the gym for some months but I've found it's not for me. I am a bit overweight but I am handling it from the kitchen (it's going fine so far, albeit at a slow pace -- half-pound to a pound per week) and not relying too much on exercise for those weight loss goals. Diet is pescetarian and generally healthy (low on processed stuff, and I've been gradually reducing sugars and carbs).

In my current exercise routine, I alternate a few different workouts (usually I combine 2 from the following list, depending on some factors):

1. 20 minutes HIIT workout on my stationary bike (I do this 2-3 times a week)

2. Full body strength training with dumbbells (2 sets, 8-12 reps), usually with 48-72hr breaks

3. Fitness circuits (I rotate between three different ones, every other day or so), focusing on legs, bums and tums. Stuff like squats, lunges, crunches, leg side raises, planks, etc. Some exercises require some gear: step, gym ball and resistance band. I do all the exercises on a given circuit and then repeat them from the beginning.

Note: As for fitness gear, I just have the stuff mentioned above as well as those adjustable dumbbells with plates. I am not looking into acquiring more stuff, aside from a pull up bar.

Other than those routines, I haven't been doing anything special. I walk nearly everywhere, and I commute to work either on foot or by bike.

My fitness goals: I'd like to be lean, fit and strong. I appreciate the rock climber/martial artist body type, for example, and I'd like to get closer to that look without, you know, actually rock climbing (not practical for me) or getting into martial arts…

I looked at the Convict Conditioning book (disregarding all the prison talk) and I want to work through those routines at some point, starting from the very beginning. Those are moves I'd love to work my way towards. I don't want to forget about cardio fitness and/or HIIT, but I don't have the time to put in X hours of slow, boring cardio. Been there, done that.

Onto my question now: what would be the best way to structure my fitness routine at home, taking into account these specifications and my goals?
posted by lost_lettuce to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Mark Lauren's bodyweight training app & book. I have both and have been working my way through the beginners guided program. It is definitely helping me to get stronger. The last 7+ weeks are particularly interesting to me because it is a different type of workout each day. Some days include HIIT. I think you can learn a lot about creating a program to get yourself stronger with the book. The app is just an easy way to make sure you do the workouts. In addition you can create your own workouts.
posted by newsomz at 3:52 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

One thing that you don't seem to be doing ATM (but please correct me if I'm wrong!) is incorporating some kind of progression in your lifting workouts, either linear or otherwise. To do this, you have to track the amount of weight you're lifting each workout (I really like the Strong app for this) and try to increase the weight from workout to workout, or even week to week, within reason. I've found that being super fastidious about tracking the amount of weight I lift each workout — as opposed to prepping for a lift and thinking "gee I think I lifted this much last week, let's slap this on the bar!" — along with focusing on increasing that weight every new workout, has really helped my progress. Plus it's a great mindset to be in.

One last thing: if you're doing 2-3 sets, you don't have to increase the weight for all sets at once; you can do one set at your previous workout's weight, and then another set at the new weight. Then for the next workout, do your sets at the new weight, rinse, repeat.
posted by un petit cadeau at 3:53 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

routines look fine. workout in the early morning before breakfast. fat will be unable to fall off you fast enough if you do that. exercise in the fasted state totally burns a lot of fat.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:52 PM on March 17, 2015

Do you do your circuits with weights? (If not, try out things like this and this.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:04 PM on March 17, 2015

Oh sorry - if you're not adding weight beyond the dumbbells, I think you can pretty much do those back to back 6/7 days. Once you can do more than 30 reps (and if you're not adding weight, I bet you can do that with what you've got), it's basically cardio. Just take a rest if things feel sore. Maybe do one intense circuit or HIIT workout one day, and then do longer cardio the next, etc.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:16 PM on March 17, 2015

Oh! Forgot to emphasize the reason I think the Mark Lauren book would be good is that he goes into how to structure your workouts to get stronger. He describes the principle of periodization and gives great examples of how to modify exercises to make them harder. In addition, the exercises progress from easier to harder within the routines so that may help you conceptualize modifying your own routine to fit your goal. Lastly, he describes what makes certain workouts "power", "endurance", and "strength" workouts. I'm not a newbie exerciser (though did get off track for a bit) and I found tons of helpful information in the book.
posted by newsomz at 6:42 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would recommend Pilates for strengthening and stamina. If you do it right, it's damn hard and works up a sweat. Increases strength esp. in your abdominal areas. I think HIIT is definitely the right way to go. Moderate and LISS cardio aren't much good for people wanting to reshape their bodies. Have you considered adding one more set to your dumbell training? Any trainer I've worked with aimed for 3 sets of 12 - 15 reps. You could try alternating your circuit with a more calisthetics/bodyweight focused circuit, adding in stuff like modified squats/lunges, mountain climbers, russian twists, jumping jacks. As far as building muscle mass goes, what you eat is crucial. Unfortunately it can be hard to both lose weight and build muscle at the same time, because to lose weight you need a calorie deficit whereas gaining/reshaping muscle usually requires extra calories. Just make sure you're getting lots of lean protein.
posted by BeeJiddy at 9:05 PM on March 17, 2015

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