The type of workout you do should depend on what your goal is. I see far too many people just go into the gym and pick up some weights and think they’re going to get the results they want overnight. I also see far too many people give up after a few times at the gym because they don’t see the results they want. It’s definitely not an overnight process. It takes hard work, dedication, and a drive to better yourself. If you stick with it you’ll lose weight, feel more confident, look better, be able to buy clothes in a size you’re proud of, and you’ll be able to brag to everyone that you’re losing weight!
Figure out what you need to do first and start with that. Focus in on trouble areas while paying attention to the rest at the same time. For example, if you’re overweight then you shouldn’t go hit the weights right off the bat. You need to lose some of the weight before you can start building the muscle. If you go hit the weights before losing the weight, then you’ll be discouraged quickly when you realize you aren’t bulking up right away. Lose the weight and then work on the weights. You’ll see results faster, and it’s healthier for you. If you’re of average weight and you really just need to tone up a couple trouble areas, then jump right in to strength training – at a low level. But, I still recommend getting some cardio in there as well.
Everyone needs to work up to higher / more difficult weights / cardio. You can’t just go to the gym for the first time after not working out and start lifting 100 lbs or complete an hour of hardcore cardio. You’ll hurt yourself…badly. Start slow and work your way up. You’ll become more motivated when you see that you can do a little bit more every few workouts.
By the way, men have the privilege of losing weight faster than women because that gut of theirs is mostly water weight. A few setups and pushups a day usually pretty much takes care of that.
Losing the pounds
When I want to drop pounds my workouts primarily consist of cardio. This means I actually get up, get my heart rate above normal (for me I need to get it to the 130-170 range to actually be considered cardio), and I actually sweat. I know, I know…that’s a dirty, nasty word, but it’s absolutely necessary! Some cardio activities I do (since I hate running) include:
- Elliptical Machine
- Stair Climber
- Arch Trainer
- Bicycling – I prefer the non-stationary, real bikes on a real trail. It’s just much more fun!
- Treadmill – I don’t run…instead, I change the incline every 1 minute and vary it between a 5 and 14 incline – up and down every 1 minute. This keeps me from getting bored, it gets my heart rate up, and works my legs quite well.
- Jumping / pushup / knee-up routines – these will get the heart rate up and count as cardio and strength training. I only recently started doing this routine and I have had great results with it so far (email me at email@example.com if you would like to know the details about this routine)
Other cardio activities that I personally don’t enjoy very much, but can be effective:
- Jump rope – this is great cardio! It works your whole body!
- Jogging / Running – running on the treadmill is actually easier on your knees than running on concrete.
- Spin Class
- Power Walking
- Step Aerobics
Please keep in mind that it’s recommended by most doctors that everyone does at least 30 minutes of cardio 3 times a week, at least. I like to mix up my routines so that I don’t get bored with my routine and so that my body doesn’t set itself into a routine. Changing up what you do to keep losing weight because your body doesn’t become accustomed to just one routine.
When I want to tone up (after losing some of the weight), I do cardio, but for a smaller amount of time (i.e. 15 mins instead of 30), and then I do light weights and high reps, and I do a lot of core work (i.e. sit ups, plank, and back exercises) – then again, my core is where I need the most work right now. Please be careful with weights and resistance machines, though. Too much weight can cause you to tear a muscle more than necessary and can actually damage your muscle. When we workout we are creating tons of small tears in our muscles (that’s why it hurts a day or two after a workout) and when they heal they become stronger and better. Listen to your body and what it’s telling you – it really does talk to you, but you have to be willing to listen.
You may also find that while you’re working out you may plateau and stay at the same weight for a while. This is okay…it’s perfectly normal, actually. Try changing up your workout routines a bit. Change the workouts you do. If you normally run and jump rope for your cardio, try the Elliptical and spin class for a while. If you normally do sit-ups for your core strength training try some Yoga core holding positions for a while…change it up.
Do you need to lose weight or tone up? What’s your workout strategy?
**If you would like specific information on specific workouts I have done for either cardio or toning, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to share**