Got the weights, NOW what?
April 5, 2007 6:22 AM   Subscribe

On AskMe's advice I bought a set of adjustable dumbbells and a bench. Now I need the hive mind's help to design a workout plan.

I need to design a simple workout plan using only a bench, a stability ball, a step (if necessary), medicine ball (if necessary), and a mat.

I am recovering from a back injury and it is important to me to build up my core strength. I have no interest at all in 'bulking up' or 'sculpting' or anything like that. I am getting cardio elsewhere (biking). I'd like to plan a 30-minute, 5-day a week workout that works my whole body over the course of a week.

Although I worked out with a trainer for a year I am a real beginner at this stuff, so assume I have no knowledge at all.

Most of the stuff on the web seems to be aimed either at Ultimate Fighting Dudes (bench press 900lbs) or Pathetic Grannies ("your exercise for today is to stand in the same spot and breathe gently").

I am 42, 5'10 and a bit, 175lbs. Yes, I'm going to take it very easy at first.

Thanks in advance!
posted by unSane to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Good for you on getting motivated!!

The site I use to figure out what exercises an article or person is referring to is -- very helpful.

Can't really help with designing a workout, but the info is out there and there are people who CAN help you... check out the forums here:
posted by premortem at 6:53 AM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I just started weight training about 5 weeks ago. I bought this book because the reviews were good, and it was relatively inexpensive. It's well laid out and written in plain english. It's a total body workout routine, 3 days per week. Most of what I've read lately advocates total body workouts rather than focusing on one muscle group per workout.

You won't be able to do every exercise in this book with just dumbbells and a bench, but you'll be able to do the vast majority of them. Going into week 5, I'm still excited to workout and learning new things every time. Your millage may vary.
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:03 AM on April 5, 2007

If you're recovering from a back injury, I'd suggest asking a physiotherapist to design a workout which won't make things worse. Most weightlifting techniques involve stress on at least part of the back - you can do nasty things to it by overdoing arm curls, for example. Lifts which work on core strength, like squats or deadlifts, are going to be particularly risky.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:04 AM on April 5, 2007 [2 favorites]

You might want to have a personal trainer at least walk you through the motions and design an initial training regimen.

Machines are designed to go through specific motions to give a proper workout (and even then people misuse them!), but free weights give you more freedom to err. If you don't have someone there to tell you what you're doing wrong, you could hurt yourself more than help.
posted by stance at 7:24 AM on April 5, 2007

For developing core strength per se, I'd recommend Pilates or FlowFit or the 5 Tibetans or Yoga first, and strength training as a complement to that.

A Thousand Baited Hooks is right that strength training can be dangerous if done badly (as can all the things I mentioned above) -- there is value in a beginner having a trainer to correct form, especially with an injury in the picture. (You said to assume you were a beginner despite your year's work with a trainer.)

All that said Getting Stronger is a decent beginner's strength training book.

If you don't have the mat yet, get an Airex.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 7:24 AM on April 5, 2007

I'd recommend Joyce Vedral's Fat Burning Workout. Yes it's designed for women, but it does use nothing more complicated than a bench and dumbbells in 3, 5, and 10 lbs. And you work up to the 10. IT uses simple, universal weight training movements that you can translate into a harder workout as you get stronger. It is already broken up into an upper body workout and lower body workout so it gets all major muscle groups. It is designed to be used 3-5 times a week. That being the case, it meets all your criteria.

I used to pair this with time on the stationary bike and a bit of stretching. Strength conditioning is great, but ideally you also should do some cardio (walking is good) and stretching.
posted by ilsa at 8:42 AM on April 5, 2007

Thanks for the question, it means I don't have to ask myself (right down to the bike cardio). I would suggest adding the correct spelling of dumbbells so I (and others) can find it later. :) Move along, nothing useful to see here, didn't find an email in the profile.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:01 AM on April 5, 2007

Best answer: to help your core in lieu of your injury, there are a lot of plyometric/balance excersizes that will do wonders. For example, instead of doing a shoulder press where there is a fixed vertical bench support (in order to isolate the sohulder muscles), try doing it with dumbells sitting on the flat bench with no back support. Your core muscles will pick up the ancillary support position (secondary muscle) and you'll find that the excersize is much harder :) Same excersize, attempt it standing on one foot (even less weight).

Excersize ball, elastic band excersizes are also great (doing compression crunches with the elastic band harnessed to a steady object, make sure to go slow on the way back for the sake of your back)

lots of stuff you can do...
posted by stratastar at 12:41 PM on April 5, 2007

Response by poster: Well lookie here! When I unpacked the adjustable dumbbells (BowFlex SelectTech 552) they had an *excellent* workout book and DVD in there, almost exactly what I was looking for. Normally these things are super-cheesy but this was anything but.
posted by unSane at 11:57 AM on April 6, 2007

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