Exercise! - Looking for exercise advice

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01-26-2014, 12:16 AM
Hi. I'm doing the beginning of the year push to make myself better. I have never really done the whole "work out" thing other than softball in high school (which was ages ago). I am starting weight watchers with a girl I work with and I am looking forward to it. My issue is exercise. I work 12 hour shifts so fitting things in on the days that I work is tough. I am willing to do it, but it will be hard. I really want to do strength training and I saw the book "new rules of lifting for women" and I cant wait to get it. Until then i would like to start the warm up exercise. So what is the best warm up before your work out and cool down after? I feel foolish asking this, but I work a job where I need to use my body taking care of patients and cant over do it and be out of work.

If anyone can help that would be great! :dance:

01-26-2014, 02:32 AM
Hmmmm, I could probably jump in on this. :) Out of curiosity, what's your shift pattern at work? (eg. 10 on 8 off, 7 on 4 off, etc.)

To start off, I can explain a few of the terms that people throw around, when talking about fitness;

Mobility: flexibility and stretching
Cardio: anything that makes your heart beat fast/hard
Aerobic: endurance activity (such as marathon racing, or lifting weights with high repetition patterns) - sometimes inaccurately referred to as 'cardio'
Anaerobic: anything that requires your muscles to work hard enough to produce lactic acid (ie. what makes your muscles 'burn')
Strength/Resistance Training: moving heavy stuff (often weight lifting)
HIT: High Intensity Training (related to HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training), which is working your a** off for a short period of time, sometimes repeating
Free weights: heavy stuff you move, that's not attached to a machine/lever (eg. dumbbells + barbells)
Reps: repetitions - usually referring to how many times you move a heavy thing
Sets: a group of reps
DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness - the 'suck' the day after you workout (ie. sore muscles)
Compound: an exercise that uses two or more groups of muscles
Isolation: an exercise that is 'targeting' a specific group of muscles

There are loads more, but that should get you started, and help address a few terms you might see on the forums. You'll probably see these all in your 'New Rules of Lifting for Women'; the book will also have lots of different exercises for you to try.

A serious HIGH FIVE for asking about warm-ups right off the bat though - many people try to skip warming up, and their workouts suffer for it. The point of a warmup is to increase blood flow, to literally 'warm up' a muscle so it's slightly more elastic and able to move, and to help address any mobility issues (ie. if you're not flexible enough for certain movements) so you can move your muscle through it's full range of motion (ROM). There are general warmups (like I'm about to suggest) and then movement specific warmups- those are usually low-weight reps of the lift you're about to do when resistance training, and help 'prepare' your body for moving a bigger weight.

But for general warmup, my #1 choice is Sun Salutation. It's a series of yoga positions that, if done properly and mindfully, will get things moving and stretch all the most common problem areas for the modern individual (ie. hip flexors, hamstring, ankles, wrists, glutes, shoulders, thoracic and even neck). I'm not a yoga expert, and so I'll recommend you do a google search for a video and/or diagrams on how to perform it properly. If you don't have a lot of time to spare, I really enjoy doing this first thing in the morning when I wake up (it really is a proper 'Sun Salutation' ;)). If you get in the habit of doing it everyday, it won't take you long to learn the poses, and it's an easy way to integrate a little more movement into your routine.

I'll also recommend trying foam rolling - this is literally rolling around on a foam cylinder. It's also sometimes called self myofascial release, and it's effectively a cheaper less targeted version of getting a massage - it helps your muscles/tendons become a little more pliable, and long-term can in theory help dissolve some scar tissue that could be restricting movement. Again, 'cause I'm not an expert I'll just recommend you google it for yourself, and see what works for you.

For cool downs, I'm very low tech - I just walk around for a bit. :D

As for workouts themselves, obviously you'll be following your book's recommendations. But if you find yourself having to pick and choose exercises, because of time constraints, here's a few tidbits that might help.

There are two 'categories' of strength training that I like to think about, purely in terms of what they work on your body (there are hundreds of different KINDS of resistance work though). Pull movements are anything that aim for the back of your body (back, back of shoulders/triceps, glutes/hips, hamstrings, calves, etc.). Push movements are going for the front (chest, front of shoulders/biceps, abs, hips, quads, etc.). You need a balance of BOTH movements, otherwise you can screw up your body's alignment. Actually, many people are already misaligned, with a weaker back side of their body than the front (usually from hunching over a desk or computer). Personally, if I only have time to hit one side of my body for the day, I will usually choose pull over push, because I find it helps me move better. There's also the much more obvious division of upper and lower work - I'll assume that doesn't need any more explanation. ;) The push/pull argument is an over-simplification, because your body uses lots of different muscle groups whenever it moves - in particular, it's almost better to think of your lower body as 'quad dominant' vs 'hip dominant' movements, because there is such a blurry line of which movement works which bit.

If you're stuck for time, compound movements will give you the biggest bang for your buck. So, if I could suggest a few exercises for each 'section' (again, google is your friend, or better yet a personal trainer to make sure you're doing these movements properly!)

Upper Pull:
Pull-ups/chin-ups (vertical, or parallel in relation to your body)
Rows (horizontal, or perpendicular in relation to your body)

Upper Push:
Shoulder press (vertical)
Push-ups/bench press (horizontal)

Lower Pull: (or Hip dominant)
Deadlift (also acts as an upper pull)
Hip Thrusts (pretty much the most awesome exercise ever, to work your bum)

Lower Push:(or Quad dominant)
Squats (also works your bum at the bottom of the squat)
Lunges (also works hamstring/glutes a bit)

All of these can be done with dumbbells or barbells - I prefer dumbbells because it means I have to pay attention to both sides of my body. :dizzy: Or just with bodyweight, or with bands, or wine bottles, or whatever you have lying around. Just moving your body to begin with is a great step in the right direction.

An important thing to keep in mind whenever you try to move something heavy (either in weight lifting or real life), is to 'engage your core'. Your core is referring to the middle muscles in your body (tummy, back, abs, lower/mid lats, obliques, etc.) that protect and stabilize your spine and internal organs. Pretty much, you want to make sure that your spine is aligned properly, and you should help it out by tensing the muscles around it. By the same token, you don't want to push your organs into funny positions, so you should also tense the muscles keeping those safe. Core targeting exercises are usually planks, sit-ups/crunches (don't do these, by the way - they're horrible for your back if you're not super careful), medicine ball chops, v-sit, etc. Many women overdo core work, thinking that it will make their tummies smaller - it doesn't. Actually, if you overtrain your core you can end up building muscles that will make your waist wider, not smaller. Compound free weight movements naturally engage your core muscles by virtue of having to stabilize your body in order to leverage the weight. Personally, I think that if you can hold front/side planks for at least 60seconds each, you can probably hold off on specific core exercises until you get a little more advanced in your training - but that's just me. I just don't think it's worth the time, when you're first getting into strength training for weight loss.

I will finally mention that I have a bias towards working glute muscles (your bum). Not only is it a nice idea to think that you're making your bum look nicer, but glute work tends to offer significant transference to any athletic activity you choose to take up. Plus, most people spend hours a day sitting on their a** - it needs a bit of extra attention. Hip thrusts, reverse back extensions, glute-ham raises, band-resisted hip abduction, kettlebell swings, step ups, etc. They are all surprisingly satisfying, easy to make fast progress on, and with the exception of the kettlebell swing, don't have complicated form (ie. they are easy to learn, and harder to screw up).

Sprints are also awesome -especially if they're uphill or up stairs. Sprints help with force development which leads to muscle recruitment (your muscles get more efficient, and can work harder), plus it causes way less wear and tear on your joints than running for long periods of time. Also 4-7 sets of 30seconds of sprinting matches jogging for 30minutes, in metabolism increase and improvement in cardiovascular health, as well as lung capacity. Let me repeat that: sprinting several times(4-7) for 30s each, is just as good as jogging for half an hour. I can't comment on the calorie expenditure, because that's pretty dependent on the gait and the individual. But if you're short on time, sprints are pretty much the bomb. :carrot:

*sigh* This is turning into a thing, me writing essays like I actually know what I'm talking about. If you're curious about set/rep patterns, or how muscle building works, there's another thread, started by alaskanlaughter titled 'Muscle Questions' in the resistance training forum where a few of us are chatting about it. I hope this helps, and I wish you the very best for your weight loss journey.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a doctor, dietition, fitness professional, etc. I just read too much, and apparently like to share. ;) Please do your own research, and make educated decisions about your diet/fitness plans. And check with a doctor before starting a new exercise routine? :p

01-26-2014, 05:28 AM
That was a lot of great information that I am going to have to look up ;) As far as my work schedule, I work 12 hour night shifts, generally 2 or 3 on and then 1 or 2 off. it depends.

Thanks on the high five for the warm up. although it will be interesting, because yoga and I dont get along at all. Hopefully I will be able to master that one move.

I know that most of the strength training I will be doing is going to be with dumbbells. I have a set that you can add weight to. I was told its not the best thing because it is just the 2 dumbbells. I am really going to have to go to the other thread about sets and reps, because I dont understand that whole thing either. :( I truely feel like I have been under a rock because it seems so many understand all of this and I have no clue.

Thank you so much for responding to me :hug:

01-26-2014, 12:56 PM
I don't have any advice for what to do in the mean time.

But I am a complete beginner to weight lifting and I love the New Rules of Weightlifting for women book. It is laid out really clearly and the beginning workouts don't take too long (I have heard the later workouts are more time consuming).

The book explains everything including sets and reps. Everything is laid out in a table which makes it easy to read.

As long as I choose my weights wisely I feel sore the next day but I am still capable of everyday movements.

01-27-2014, 12:49 AM
Rated, I've never looked through it before - are there fun pictures? :p Out of curiosity, what movements does the program start you off with?

Also, donijo23, please let me caution you against what I did - which was jump in the deep end, assuming that everyone was way ahead of me. I only started reading about fitness and exercise programing about 10 months ago; there is a massive learning curve. You're not behind, trust me.

I sometimes use http://www.exrx.net/ for diagrams and exercise listings - there are plenty of sites out there that do it, this one is just easy to navigate and fairly comprehensive (and without pics of nearly-naked buff people everywhere ;)).

Dumbbells are an awesome place to start - actually, I prefer them, personally. I find that I have to be so much more mindful of keeping my body balanced with dumbbells (which is a good thing, for me), and there are VERY few exercises you can't use them for.

And as for the warmup, that's just what I like. There are literally thousands of different warmup routines out there. If that one doesn't suit, try something else! :)

If I were you, with your shifts, I'd probably do something like this:
Week 1 - just add Sun Salutation to your morning routine (at least once for each side)
Week 2 - 1 + take a 5-10min coffee break once or twice a shift to sprint up and down the stairwell a few times (10s sprints, rest until you can breathe properly- lather, rinse, repeat)
Week 3 - 1+2 + do 10 burpees after you brush your teeth
Week 4 - 1+2+3 + add 10 hip thrusts (just bodyweight) after your Sun Salutations every morning

And that's your first month - no equipment needed, shouldn't add more than 20min to your day, and very little effort to learn how to do it (erm, apart from a bit to first getting used to the 'warmup'). Personal experience and behavioural literature suggest that SMALL CHANGES are more effective long-term rather than trying to do everything at once.

If you choose to try this for the first month, then you can check back in to start developing a weight lifting routine. You'll have a better idea of how you respond to adding activity to your day, which type of exercises were difficult or fun, and the whole thing might feel a bit less overwhelming.

Best of luck, take small steps, and most importantly HAVE FUN! :hug:

01-27-2014, 10:43 AM
Rated, thanks for the post. I am going to get the book on pay day. I am quite excited about it.

Defining, what is a burpee? :D

01-27-2014, 11:34 AM
http://bit.ly/rI981i ;) Here ya go babe.


They kinda suck to have to do (as in, 'embrace the suck' hard), but are the most effective way I know to make your lungs burn and blood move, without needing much space.

01-27-2014, 11:48 AM
So basically what you are telling me is that as a smoker that is trying to cut back to start her adventure of quitting, burpees are going to be awful! lol

Holy eww, I was finally able to get to youtube to look at what a burpee is. I think you are trying to kill me...lol

01-27-2014, 07:12 PM
Oh, c'mon, I only suggested 10! :)

Congrats on trying to stop smoking. A few of my friends have had success either just going cold turkey, or using e-cigs to replace the habit and taper off nicotine dosage.

Once you've been around long enough to PM, lemme know, and we can stop spamming threads trading quips back and forth ;)


01-27-2014, 08:37 PM
Is that a part of the 20 day waiting thing?:dizzy:

01-27-2014, 08:47 PM
Yup - like posting links, or adding a signature. Fair enough, it stops the worst of the spambots. :)

01-27-2014, 09:00 PM
18 days to go for that then. I have really been enjoying the site though. I am learning a lot. I am also looking forward to getting The New Rules Of Lifting. Especially after how great Rated made it sound.

02-03-2014, 06:13 PM
I don't have any advice for what to do in the mean time.

But I am a complete beginner to weight lifting and I love the New Rules of Weightlifting for women book. It is laid out really clearly and the beginning workouts don't take too long (I have heard the later workouts are more time consuming).

The book explains everything including sets and reps. Everything is laid out in a table which makes it easy to read.

As long as I choose my weights wisely I feel sore the next day but I am still capable of everyday movements.

Rated, are you doing "the new rules" at home or in a gym?

02-09-2014, 03:17 AM
If you are working with patients you are probably already quite strong and getting a fair bit of exercise.

A warm up is any gentle type of exercise. e.g. when running, you just start out with a slow jog or even walking. Anything that loosens up the muscles and gets the blood flowing. It brings the blood to the muscles area so that more energy is available to the muscles that need it.

A warm up helps loosen the muscles so that you don't go from totally relaxed to strong and sudden compression and injure yourself.