Biking/balling/lifting for fat dummies like me.
February 27, 2007 8:02 PM   Subscribe

Help me design a beginner's work-out routine using my exercise bike, a ball, and a few weights (using as many layman's terms as possible.)

Ok, so I'm not in keeper shape. I'm about 5'10" and I wear a size 18. (I have no clue what my weight is though.) While I was on active assignment doing projects (with heavy lifting, long hours, etc.) for my company last year, I was down to almost a 14. Now, we're not on active duty again until April at the earliest, and I'm chubby again. And who likes being chubby?

So, having just passed my 26th birthday last week, I've decided that it's time to get some exercise, and I'd like some skinny/fit people input. I have neither the income nor the time to join a gym. (Once we go on assignment again, I'll be away from my home until November for work.) Thus, a gym is right out. I also cannot run. I hate it more than any other exercise imagined. I will not run. I'm up for just about anything else.

What I do have: an exercise bike, a ball, some light free weights, a Yoga Booty Ballet DVD, the Gunnar Peterson Ball Workout DVDs, New York Ballet Workout DVDs, and two or three Winsor Pilates DVDS.

Help me design a program of exercise using these things. I'd also appreciate some recommendations for exercise DVDs that I could get from Blockbuster Online.

Please use the simplest terms. (When I read other posts about exercise, responders seem to use jargon that I don't necessarily know.) Also, I'm specifically looking for exercise tips, not diet tips.
posted by santojulieta to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
When I first started lifting weights at home I found these cards helpful for ideas and form.

I don't remember what weight weights they say to use but definitely procure weights that are the absolute heaviest you can lift 8 to 10 times in a row (and if the cards say less heavy, they're wrong).

As long as you ride the exercise bike before, after, or both for 20+ minutes you do your weight training, you're set. You're supposed to do every other day for certain muscle groups; say, legs and butt on Mondays, chest and back and arms on Tuesdays, and can do stomach everyday.

Is an exercise ball a stability ball or a weighted ball?
posted by birdie birdington at 8:16 PM on February 27, 2007

Happy birthday santojulieta! I'll let some of the other fitness buffs chime in with routines, but allow me to address two things that you're post doesn't mention:

1.) Your routine and workout environment is absolutely vital for keeping you motivated to work out. So make sure your exercise bike and other equipment are setup somewhere you'll use them every day. If you have to haul the stuff out of the closet or basement each time then you'll find yourself less motivated to start working out.

Pick a time of day when you'll for sure be ready and able to work out uninterrupted. This may take some experimentation on your part. But once you find a consistent time then try your best to stick with it.

2.) Don't forget diet - what you eat is just as important as how much you exercise. There is tons of daunting information out there regarding diet, but two things to keep in mind if you're interested in loosing weight: eat healthy, and eat smaller portions. Drink lots of water throughout the day.

Of your equipment you'll probably find the exercise bike both the least confusing and the most useful. The ball and weights are probably best used after more research. You can make a huge change in your waistline simply by hitting the bike every other day for at least 45 minutes - make sure the resistance is such that you're actually getting a good work out. Obviously, you may need to work up to a 45 or 60 minute workout, so start low and move up in 10 or 15 minute increments.

Others are going to chime in to suggest that building muscle is a great way to burn fat, and it is - but getting a good, consistent aerobic workout on your bike several times a week will give you a great head start. And since the bike is there, don't be afraid to jump on it on off days. Take it easy at first, and pay special attention to any tenderness around you knees. You may need to adjust the bike seat to correct for you height.

Lastly, don't concern yourself too much with workout videos in the beginning, they can provide useful info, but they can just as easily be a distraction. If you spend an hour on the bike sweeting while watching a program that you actual enjoy then you'll definitely see results!

Good luck!
posted by wfrgms at 8:22 PM on February 27, 2007

Stability inflatable ball thing. Not a medicine ball.
posted by santojulieta at 8:35 PM on February 27, 2007

To start, put together a simple 4-day program and follow it for 8 weeks. Do this Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Or whatever. It should take about an hour and 20 minutes. Focus on basic weightlifting and cardio. I will include links to sights with some exercises and you can just find what works for you. I have never used exercise videos but I bet you could substitute the bike cardio with the videos.

For each exercise, do 3 sets of 10-12 reps, using light weight and focusing on form, with each rep taking 6 seconds - 3 up and 3 down.

Make simple adjustments to your diet, like cutting out cheese, butter, oil, mayo and fried foods. Divide up your meals into at least 4 and preferable 5 or 6. Eat breakfast every day.

Most of all, take an interest in making your own program. Read Girl's M&F.

Day 1: Chest & Triceps
- 3 chest exercises, substituting your exercise ball for the bench
- 3 triceps exercises
- situps
- 30 mins bike cardio

Day 2: Legs
- 2 quad exercises
- 2 hamstring exercises
- 2 calf exercises

* Rest Day *

Day 3: Shoulders
- 3 shoulder exercises (try and hit front, middle and rear lats)
- situps
- 30 mins bike cardio

Day 4: Back & Biceps
- 3 back exercises
- 3 bicep exercises
- 30 mins bike cardio

posted by charlesv at 8:51 PM on February 27, 2007 [17 favorites]

Get a heart rate monitor: nothing fancy, maybe one of the low-end ones from Polar. Shop around, the MSRP is not what you should pay. This type of heart rate monitor is basically a watch you wear on your wrist, and a strap that goes around your chest. The strap sends your heartbeats wirelessly to the watch. You wear this so you can tell when you are in your aerobic zone--you want to make sure you're not exercising too soft or too hard.

When you do get on the bike, get into your aerobic zone for at least 30 minutes, which is around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate, which is 220 - your age. (More accurate calculation here, and the HRM will have instructions, too.)

Put the bike in front of the TV.

If you didn't exercise yesterday, you have to exercise today.

(The converse is not true: if you did exercise yesterday, you can still exercise today.)
posted by IvyMike at 9:03 PM on February 27, 2007

I've found the strength workouts and the exercise tracker at spark people insanely helpful. There's a whole nutrition component and calorie tracker there as well, but hopefully you won't be turned off by it, you can just ignore it. They have some really good and simple strength training exercises that you can do, some with weights and with an exercise ball. I've tried them and they're all very good.
posted by pazazygeek at 10:20 PM on February 27, 2007

Functional Fitness: push, pull, twist, balance. Nothing in my 25 years of exercise has been as effective as this. You don't need a gym. Once you can balance, you might want a balance board.

1) Push ups:
Feet on floor; hands on ball. Move hands around on ball to work different parts of back.

Feet or foot on ball; hands on floor. Same as above with hands.

2) Pull:
Put cheap bar in door jamb.
Lie on floor and pull body to bar at chest level.


Stand on leg, other leg still; progress to swing other leg; progress to closing eyes standing, swinging.

Squat. Squat with eyes closed. Squat with eyes closed and head tilted.

Sit on ball lift feet off floor.

Feet on floor, forearms on ball, back straight, hold. Progress to feet on ball hands on floor.

Stand holding ball or weight in front of you. Squat and twist lowering ball or weight to hip. Stand slowly raising ball or weight to opposite side of body so body is twisted to other side. Lower ball, weight, squat and repeat.
posted by larry_darrell at 11:24 PM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am also an at-home exerciser (elliptical and DVDs). I used to jog as well, though I found it hard on the knees. I know some people doubt the effectiveness of at home workouts, or think they are boring, but I lost 40 pounds this way and have kept it off for several years (3-4 I think, maybe more). So you don't have to go to the gym or hit the pavement every day to get fit and lose weight.

I don't want to give overly specific advice because basically, everyone will have to figure out an individual plan that works for them. But in general, I would say you should try to exercise 5 days a week (work up to it if you aren't that fit now). I actually work out daily except in special circumstances - like being sick or travelling. Doing about 45 minutes of cardio three times a week and 30-60 min of strength training twice a week would be a great goal.

Here are some DVDs I like:

cardio: VH1 Celebrity Boot Camp - this is a boot camp/calisthenics/circuit training style workout. Has modifications for beginnners and option to choose a 30 or 50 minute workout.

strength: Kathy Smith Lift Weights to Lose Weight 1 & 2 are good for beginning weight lifting and are broken up into segments for upper body, lower body, and abdominals.

I also really like Jari Love's Get Ripped series for more advanced weight lifting.

yoga/pilates: MTV's Power Yoga is good - challenging and definitely gives you some cardio without jumping around. Having a yoga routine in your rotation will be valuable to help you with strength and flexibility.

I also think that the Method pilates series is good, though sometimes the instructors are a bit wooden.

These are probably my favorite DVDs now. The problem with DVDs is that you do eventually get bored with them - however, they are still way cheaper than a gym membership. I would also recommend a subscription to a fitness magazine like Shape or Self because they have ideas for exercises and recipes, and will help keep you motivated. Good luck and have fun!
posted by tuff at 4:36 AM on February 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I order DVD's from and they have a helpful website. The newer Gin Miller and Karen Voight DVD's are simple and thorough. Most of the Gin Miller workouts require a step and will kick your booty, but in a good way. You can always rent DVD's at the video store to try them out and then go online and buy the ones you like. I've been working out at home, both using videos and running, for 5 years and think it's a great way to stay in shape. Good luck with it.
posted by BluGnu at 6:53 AM on February 28, 2007

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