Exercise! - Need advice for routine please!

View Full Version : Need advice for routine please!

03-26-2006, 03:19 PM
So, I've tried reading back a couple of pages, but I can't seem to get my questions answered.

First of all, I've read some of the articles, and I am not sure what they pertain to for 'Max weight?' I read the breakdown of weightlifting for beginners article, and it talked about lifting 70-80 % of the max rep (or something like that)? I am just not understanding.

So, my second question is about calories, how many calories should I be consuming. I TRY to eat the 'healthy calories,' but it is extremely hard at a college. Summer is coming up here pretty soon, so that should be getting better (at home with more control). I know you need to know my stats to answer that question, so I'll post them now.

I'm a 22 year old female that weight 157 pounds, and I'm 5'6. I have a semi-active life (walking to classes) and I also try to work out about an hour and a half 5 days a week (usually). The goal I have is to get down to 140 lbs. I was at one point 220 lbs (in 2000), and now I am so close! I just need to finish this off! I have weight on my stomach, legs, and butt especially that I would like to get rid of. I'm not too upset with my upper body (the top half of me looks ok...I know that sounds funny, but Tae-bo really helped shape up my arms during the past few years...).

I tried doing some on-line calculating on how many calories I should be consuming, and I am not sure if I trust their results. The one website I checked last night said 2500 calories (WHAT???...NO WAY!). Right now I ...try...to consume at least 1600 calories...maybe I need more, but I have trouble eating. It is something I am working through, and this will be better again when I get home this summer.

The second question I have, and I think this is where I need to majority of advice, is about my exercise program. I go to the YMCA M-F and my normal routine is 10 minutes of stretching (I actually do the beginning stretches of my Tae-Bo tape lol), 35 minutes of lifting (will talk about that later...need help...I'm confused now), and 35 minutes on an elliptical (or sometimes 20 minutes on a stair stepper and don't do elliptical).

When I do the elliptical, I do the weight loss program and I normally burn about 400 calories. Another question I have...is it good for me to do the elliptical every day. Another thing I have been doing in stead of the elliptical (maybe twice a week) is a stair stepper machine for about 20 minutes...I burn maybe 200 calories on this. Should I do the elliptical every day AND stair stepper a few times a week, or should I switch off between the two of them? Please help me for max effects.

Ok, as for weight lifting. I switch back between my legs (I work through all of the leg machines, 5, available there) and arms. Now, for my orientation, the lady told me I did not need to switch, because I was not going to be lifting much. I was talking to someone else though, who I trusted a little more, that told me I still should be switching to give my mussel groups a rest. For arms, I work through maybe two arm machines (a preacher curl and ...can't remember the other one), and I do this super pull over machine that also works my abs. I also work my love handles on this other machines (I'm sorry that i don't know the names...maybe this isn't important...but trying to give all of the information I can). Ok, so I also use the Ab machine every day (is this ok?).

So, that is my routine, but the amount of weight I am lifting and reps is my other big question (especially now after reading some of the articles). I am doing about 3 sets of 20...now I am wondering if that is too much? I am not exactly sure how much to lift with these, and so many time it seems to easy. Yes...now I know some of you here are probably grinding your teeth reading this (but now I know better), but I told the lady who helped me first at the gym that I did not want to ‘bulk up.’ She told me to do less weight and more reps. So, she started me out on minimum weights, and sense then (for the past months) I have maybe gone up on weights 5 pounds. For example, I am doing about 85 lbs on leg press. So, should I be adding my weights and lessoning my reps? I’ve tried reading the articles, but I am still confused.

I know this is a very long post with a lot of questions, and I would appreciate any time from anyone!

Thanks in advance!

03-26-2006, 08:31 PM
Hi Tessa! Congratulations on those 80 pounds lost - what a fantastic accomplishment! :cp: Lots of us have discovered how hard it is to lose the last few pounds, but it sounds like you're definitely on the right track. :)

Let me take a stab at some of your questions. First, a couple of easy ones:

* forget one rep maxes. It's just not relevant to what you're doing. I'm a personal trainer and have never bothered to figure out what mine are. :shrug:

* forget calorie calculators. They aren't accurate for many people , especially those of us who have already lost a lot of weight (including myself).

So how many calories should you eat? Really, the answer is however many YOU can eat and still lose weight. You can only find that out by carefully tracking what you eat daily and weighing yourself weekly. If you eat 1600 and lose, great - stick with that until it stops working. If you're not losing at 1600, I'd say drop - not raise - your calories.

Honestly, at the weight you're at now, I'd be surprised if you could eat over 1600 calories and lose, but you'll never know until you experiment. You may be one of the lucky ones. :) Unfortunately, when I got to your weight, I had to drop to 1200 to keep losing (and that was with an hour of cardio/day), but we're all different. ;)

About cardio - first off, don't trust the calorie counters on the machines. They're WAY high! :eek: Keep doing cardio, of course, just don't pay any attention to what the machine says calorie-wise (except as a way to compare day-to-day progress). As to using the same machine ... I did ONLY elliptical for the year I was losing weight. Same amount of time, same machine, every day. And it worked for me. So my opinion is that it's OK!

About reps and sets -- when you're beginning, aim for sets of 12 - 15 reps. What that means is that you want to pick a heavy enough weight so that somewhere between 12 and 15 reps it's getting very tough or impossible to do another rep. If you pick a weight and can only do six reps, that's too heavy and you know to go lighter on the next set. If you do 15 reps and can keep right on going, then you know that weight is too light and bump up for the next set. It's helpful to carry a little notebook around with you at first to keep track of your weights, reps, and sets. Honestly, it's not complicated and you don't have to worry about one rep maxes! :D

Don't worry about bulking up - it won't happen. You just don't have the hormones for it. Lifting too light of weights is simply a waste of time because you have to stress your muscles in order for them to grow (a good thing :) ). Check in with the lovely ladies in the Ladies Who Lift forum -- I think they'll all tell you that lifting heavy weights has made them smaller and tighter, not big and bulky. :strong:

Darn it - I have to run now and haven't had a chance to talk about the machines you're doing. Perhaps someone else can chime in? Otherwise, I'll be back tomorrow. :)

03-26-2006, 11:30 PM
Thank you very much Meg! I am glad to hear that I don't have to eat over 2000 calories. I just want to make sure I'm eating enough...because I got into trouble beginning of the year and got kind of sick. Just trying to watch myself. I tried to hit about 1500 calories before, but that wasn't with the excerciseing that i do today (that was with Taebo though). I just want to make sure that I shouldn't be consuming more now. Good to know!

So, the ellipical is good then? Would it be ok to use the stair stepper too, or just a few times a week? Or, does the ellipitical kind of do what a stair stepper also does?

My other question is...should I be lifting every day and doing to the ellipitcal like I have been doing?


03-27-2006, 12:07 PM
I believe a stair stepper burns more calories so if you use it the same amount of time as the elliptical, then you'll have bumped up your cardio workout. I find that I alternate cardio routines because of boredom more than anything.

You can lift every day if you split your muscle groups. Work legs one day, arms one day and chest one day so that you let those muscle groups rest for a couple of days in between workouts--or you can split it any way you like as long as you're not working the same muscle groups every day. I do an active rest day once a week (meaning that I walk so I'm active, but not the extent I am the other six days of the week) just because I need it. I imagine other people work out every day with no need for a rest day. Your body will let you know!

03-27-2006, 01:23 PM
Thank you very much Sheila! That's a good idea to switch between the machines.

So, when I lift then I should work out ALL of the mussels (during a week...when I split the groups)? Should I just work my way around the room (work with the leg machines one day, then the chest machines, and then on the third day work the arm machines)? I just want to make sure that I understand correctly.

So, I'm doing ok then working out for 35 minutes on cardio and then 30 minutes on lifting? Will I still be able to do cardio after lifting??? LOL...I guess that is something I'll find out today.

Last question...right now...like for the leg press (I'm sorry I don't know the specific name) I am pushing 85 lbs (and it is pretty easy...I can do 3 sets of 20 reps). Could anyone give me an estimate how how much I could try to go up on most of the machines (I know already that I would have to go up less on the arm machines, because they are harder for me...). I just have no idea how much to go up...I know this is something I could just check out tonight, but just a good estimate? The weight room is kind of busy...and I already feel like I look like I don't know what i'm doing...lol

Thanks so much!

03-27-2006, 02:48 PM
You'll just need to up the weight little by little until you find a weight where you can only do 12-15 reps and no more. Once you find that, that is the weight you currently need to be at. When you get used to that weight and get stronger, add another plate.

I weigh 136 and currently lift 130 pounds on the leg press, but I don't know what typical is. I may be under, I may be over. I have no clue.

03-27-2006, 03:57 PM
Regarding the leg press, I'd go up to 90 and see how you do. If you can do 12 reps easily, then add 10 lbs. Your goal is to lift to failure. Once I can lift 3 sets of 12 reps, then I add more weight. I can usually add 10 lbs. to legs, sometimes 5, but I have a much harder time with arms. Often I use the 1 lb. magnets and go up slowly.

I've gotten so I prefer to do cardio before weights, but that's because I generally do 45-60 min. of cardio daily. If I get myself too tired lifting, then cardio becomes too much of a chore. Since I'm still in weight loss mode, I don't want to short myself on cardio. Once I get to maintenance level, I'm going to try to back off the cardio just a bit and increase the weights because I want to be stronger and look leaner.

Some people do a full body workout two to three days a week; some people split their workouts into muscle groups. It just depends on how much time you have and how intense you want the workouts. Here's a thread from LWL that discusses splits:


Hope this helps!

03-27-2006, 05:07 PM
Thank you very much!

Well, this week I can workout through Thursday...I think this afternoon I am going to try to work my leg muscels and see how tired I am. I am going to check out that thread now...thank!

03-27-2006, 09:09 PM
First of all, good job! You are so close to your goal. I started asking some similar questions on the Ladies who Lift section of this forum and they’ve been really helpful. Read some of the back threads and you’ll pick up a ton of useful info. On the advice of one of the gals here I gave the free weights a shot for some exercises yesterday and what a difference! I think eventually I would like to switch to almost all free weights and really minimize my use of the machines. I can feel a big difference today in my body and I found the exercises to be much more challenging even though I supposedly wasn’t lifting any more weight than I do on the machines. If you have some free weight stations and dumbbells available I would encourage you to give them a try.

03-28-2006, 01:10 AM
Hi! I was going to answer you yesterday before all these good people got here, but I was at work and got spotted! Oops!

Great job so far, well done. It's fun when you get into exercising isn't it!

On the cardio, I think either the stepper or eliptical are valid. What I do is do a different cardio routine nearly every day. This is because I am a brat of a gemini and get really bored and then don't want to do it! So I set myself different mini challaneges every time. Some days I do a mix of machines, some days I run, some days I set myself a 30 minute hill challenge on the eliptical, it just depends. I also like the rower and treadmill for variety.

Don't go too much on what the calorie counter on the machinery says, they're not accurate. I have been using three gyms with different brands of equipment. I burn more calories at one gym than I do at the other two :dizzy: :D

On the lifting I lift two days a week. I also do a split program. Legs and chest one day, shoulders back and arms the other. That changes every 6 weeks, so in my next cycle I might lift more often and different routines.

Free weights are something I now do, that before I was scared of. I use machines for somethings, but because my goals are different now (improving balance and coordination) I prefer compound exercises like squats and lunges rather than leg curls and presses.

Experiement and have fun with it. With a lot of this stuff there isn't a "right way" and a "wrong way".

But my big tip is, keep your body guessing.