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More details on WHAT strength training to do to be balanced

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Old 04-04-2009, 11:39 PM   #1
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Default More details on WHAT strength training to do to be balanced

First of all, I'm female. I know that makes a difference.
Now, I have started trying to eat a healthy diet and get exercise to lose weight (though I refuse to say I am on a diet, because I think that sounds temporary and I am trying to find a permanent plan that I will be able to follow indefinitely, not something temporary), but I always read that you should eat right, do cardio, and strength train, but it's so vague.
I will be detailed about what I am currently doing to make the advice more properly tailored...
I figured out the food part.. I'm in college and most of the main entrees at the cafeteria contain a calorie count, so for the time being I find calorie counting pretty manageable. I'm eating 2000 calories a day now (before I might have sometimes been eating as many as 4000, so this is quite a drop for me). I quite easily cut liquid calories out of my diet and now drink only out of a water fountain except at dinner (I LOVE water fountains but have trouble drinking water out of a bottle all day for some reason) I've also decided to eat breakfast, morning snack, lunch, sometimes an afternoon snack, dinner, and an evening snack, because I get hungry easily. I make sure that my lunch and dinner aren't too big though! I've found this quite easy. I tried "dieting" before, pushing myself too much and trying never to snack and I was always hungry and miserable. I'm pleasantly surprised now, because I'm never hungry and quite satisfied if I can eat every few hours. I have always loved fruit and have no problem with salad, so at dinner I make sure to have a salad and fruit, along with my glass of 2% Milk that I've been drinking every day since I was little (milk makes me full too, so I don't overeat!) I am not really having a problem not eating junk food, because I like fruit and stuff just as much. LOL I just make sure to eat 2000 calories a day (don't want to starve myself) and not eat a lot of junk food, and I'm not having trouble with it. I can imagine eating like this 20 years from now! It's not really difficult.
In the same way, cardio doesn't seem to be presenting too much difficulty for me. I am embarrassed to run in public, or go to a gym, so I am climbing up and down stairs every day (making sure to put the weight in my upper legs and butt when I go down, not my knees) and I can only do 10 minutes right now (up and down 5 times) but I'm slowly increasing it, until eventually I will just do stair climbing. For the time being, I'm doing brisk walking too, enough so that with the stair climbing and walking I burn about 500 calories (so 2000-500=1500?). The better I get at stairs, the less walking I'll have to do, but I can't push myself too much at once. I've been doing this every day pretty easily. I take a friend with me to keep me motivated. I can also see keeping this up 20 years from now, either stair climbing or having a treadmill at home (we do at my home where I'll return to in the summer).
But my ISSUE is strength training and stretching..... cardio is pretty easy to figure out, and there's a lot of info online about keeping calories in check and how to keep your metabolism up through the cardio. But everywhere says strength training, and then I look it up and it says to make sure to exercise your muscles equally to avoid problems... and all these different ways to strength train, and I get so confused.
I am just trying to burn muscle to burn fat, and I really don't want to go to a gym, because I'm embarrassed about exercising in public. I am also not specifically training any one part, so I guess I don't have any real need to just be exercising single muscles, since I just want to gain muscle to help lose weight. So it would make more sense to exercise my muscles in groups? But I can't figure out what would be the best way to do this. I don't want to overtrain one part and not train another.. but I can't find a good easy general dummies guide for building muscle to lose fat (so not to build a LOT of muscle), like an entire program, like what exercises to do to make sure I cover everything, and what exercises (exercises I can do in my room, I mean... I could buy some weights if they weren't too expensive I guess) and how many times a week (I THINK 3 is a good number so I don't overwork anything?) because trying to figure it out on my own isn't working. On top of that, I don't know if my climbing stairs is building leg muscle and if I should still work out that area equally or not.. I'm just really confused.
I'm just as confused about stretching. They say to stretch before you do cardio for 5-10 minutes, but not all the stretches you should do to make sure you don't miss anything. Could anybody help me on that?
Basically I just need advice on the weight training. I want to do it but have no idea where to start without going to a gym and am having trouble finding the info I need online.
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Old 04-05-2009, 12:04 AM   #2
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Your school library should have both "Weight Lifting for Dummies" and "Body for Life." Your eating plan is very similar to BFL, so you will probably enjoy referencing that and learning what they suggest for cardio and weight lifting. The dummies book is like the typical series, and can give you a good basis to start. Your stair activity is good, but a brisk walk that you can do longer than 10 minutes will help you out right now as well.

For stretching, I don't stretch before working out and don't really see it suggested anywhere that I've read. It takes up valuable time and your muscles aren't truly warm yet, not as warm as they are at the end when you get so much more good stretching in. You can google stretching and get some examples of good stretches that will work for all that leg work you're doing.

Good luck! Sounds like you are on a great start!
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Old 04-05-2009, 12:10 AM   #3
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I would check out how many calories you should be eating to lose weight.I agree with not cuting too low but I think your calories might be too high unless you are burning lots of calories with exercise.Just a thought.
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Old 04-05-2009, 12:12 AM   #4
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In addition to the books Sportmom suggested, I would also recommend New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women as a nice guide to the theory of weight training. That book shows quite a few strength training exercises and puts together a good program to get your feet wet.

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Last edited by midwife : 04-05-2009 at 10:25 AM. Reason: clarify
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Old 04-05-2009, 02:59 AM   #5
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harrismm, are you sure? Maybe I'm thinking about this wrong. I went to the ahealthyme website's Calorie Need Calculator and put in 5'10" for height, 211 for weight, 19 for age, female for sex, and very light for activity level (so exercise can be counted separately), and it tells me I'd need 2,345 calories a day to maintain my weight. But if I change it to 145 pounds (my goal weight), it says I'd need 1,965 calories to maintain that weight with NO exercise. I've been exercising every day to burn 500 calories... following the calorie guide on LiveStrong since I know the amount of calories burned depends on your weight, so right now doing 10 minutes of stairs and 70 minutes of brisk walking and trying to up the stairs so it doesn't take as long, since I can burn calories faster that way, and I usually do the walk with my friend (so 2000-500 = total of 1500 a day?) and thought that was good... should I be cutting back calories more? I thought that was good.. but I don't know much.
Also, I don't like the school library but walk to the public library all the time (I don't like paying to take the bus to go places and have no car/bike so I have to walk everywhere XDDDDDDD), and the public library has both Body for Life and Weight Training for Dummies. There is two Body for Life's though. Which one did you mean? There is...
Body-for-life : 12 weeks to mental and physical strength / Bill Phillips with Michael D'Orso
Body-for-LIFE for women : a woman's plan for physical and mental transformation / Pamela Peeke

Last edited by megwini : 04-05-2009 at 03:28 AM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:45 AM   #6
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I respectfully disagree with Harrissmm and like your 2000 calorie starting point.

I usually try to determine the starting calorie allowances of my diets by looking at 10 calories per lb of bodyweight or 14 calories per lb of goal bodyweight (basically maintenance for the future you) and setting my target on the lower number of the two. These numbers seem to work well as long as I am moderately active and have realistic goals. A sedentary person my have to go to about 8 calories per lb. Using your numbers that would be 2100 and 2030. So I would have set myself at 2030, right around your 2000. I also would not recommend going below 7 calories per lb of current body weight. It is my personal belief that doing so is paramount to attempting muscular suicide. Now there are people with damaged or legitimately slow metabolisms that might need to go below this to lose weight. However, one should never assume that they are one of them and if they find they are, probably should seek medical advice (again IMHO).

Dipping lower will make the scale move a bit faster because you will be sacrificing some muscle (although, those who have never strength trained can push the envelope a bit more, because while I don't know all the physiological reasons, it is well known that those starting a weight training program are able to maintain and usually even gain muscle even at extreme caloric defecits.)

However, I like your thinking of this as lifestyle transformation and something that you will be doing for life. So, I think not pushing for a lower caloric defecit when the "newbie gains" will make sure you are not punished with muscle loss is still wise.

Body for life is a good weight training program for your goals. I can't speak for the "for women" version as I have never read it, but the original is good and a plan I have done in the past and that many on this board are currently doing.

As for balance, you do not have to worry about balancing every single muscle in the body. I like to think in terms of movements, not muscles. The NROL books as well as many other programs are based on the same philosophy and if going with a movement based program, the thinking is done for you.

If you do not have a program to go from, it is not that difficult. Basically, if you have no current imbalances to stay balanced just make sure your pulling movements (row variations, pull downs, pullup variations, etc) are done with similar volume as your push variations (bench press variations, overhead press variations, pushups, etc) and that your knee or quad dominant exercises (like squat variations) and your hip or hamstring dominant excericses (such as deadlift variations, pull-throughs, leg curl variants). You can also try to balance the vertical and horizontal planes but this is not a total necessity. It is also good, but again not a necessity, to have a mixture of bilateral and unilateral work. Unilateral work will really show you if you have limb to limb strength imbalances and will help alleviate them.

When doing core make sure you do lower back exercises as well as abdominal exercises and don't purely do flexion based exercises. Make sure your exercise menu have plenty of core stabilization exercises (the main function of your core is stabilization) as well as rotation and anti-rotation exercises.

Last edited by Depalma : 04-05-2009 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 04-09-2009, 02:56 AM   #7
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Okay, well... I've been thinking on it, and doing cardio for a few weeks now, and I'm certain that I like anaerobic exercise MUCH more than aerobic exercise. I mean, I realize I can't keep it up for a decent amount of time, so I've been trying to zigzag up and down, going slower (so aerobic?) during recovery periods and then pushing myself again.
I don't know... I guess aerobic exercise would be good for burning calories and everything, but it kind of bores me. It's not so bad when I'm using it to recover in between doing more really fast, challenging stuff, but like... during my brisk walks my mind starts to wander and I'm constantly checking the time and wondering how much longer till I'm done.. and I'm just bored. But I feel like when I'm trying to push myself as hard as I can possibly go (when I'm climbing stairs and trying to go farther... and faster) and my heart is beating so fast and I don't think I have the strength to continue forward but I make myself do so anyway.... always just a little bit more... and the only thing I can think about is that I have to keep going, that I can't give up... when I'm done, I feel so... accomplished. Empowered, I guess. And my heart is beating so fast, and I feel like I truly tried as hard as I could. I feel like I REALLY tried. But I walk briskly for an hour, and I don't really feel accomplished at all, I just feel like I walked for an hour. So I guess I really like the pushing myself to the top a lot more then. But um... since my primary mode of doing so is climbing stairs, is this going to be like... something I should not do every day? If so, how often should I do it? And/or is the fact that I'm pushing myself like this mean I'm already kind of doing some weight training for my legs in a way and with actual weight training I shouldn't really focus on my calves? I see what you are saying about balancing pushing and pulling and I'll try to think about that and figure it all out... it's just confusing to start out, I think.

Last edited by megwini : 04-09-2009 at 03:17 AM.
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Old 04-09-2009, 08:56 AM   #8
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I am sorry to hear that. That's really confuse to start out.
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Old 04-09-2009, 06:34 PM   #9
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I honestly don't think you should feel embarrassed to run. If you can do it, that's great!!!!!!!!!!! And sometimes we just have to push through that embarrassed feeling and get the job done. You could add some sprinting to your walks. It makes it a lot less dull, more difficult and burns more calories.
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Old 04-09-2009, 06:53 PM   #10
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I think you're a little confused on the difference between aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise. Cardio is an aerobic exercise. Doing intervals of intensity - often called High Intensity Interval Training - can be anaerobic, but overall it is still aerobic exercise.

Here's a couple of definitions from Science Daily:

Aerobic literally means "with oxygen", and refers to the use of oxygen in muscles' energy-generating process.

Aerobic exercise includes any type of exercise, typically those performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time, that maintains an increased heart rate.

Anaerobic exercise comprises brief, strength-based activities, such as sprinting or bodybuilding, whereas aerobic exercise is centered around endurance activities, such as running or long-distance cycling.

Examples of anaerobic exercise include weight lifting, sprinting, and jumping; any exercise that consists of short exertion, high-intensity movement, is an anaerobic exercise.

Your stair climbing would definitely be an example of high-intensity aerobic exercise, and I wouldn't do it every day - probably 3-4 times a week.

Cardio, at both longer times/lower intensity and shorter times/higher intensity will burn calories/fat. Weight-training will build muscles which are more metabolically active than fat and will up you metabolism slightly, and will burn some fat. But it will also make you look smaller and trimmer because pound for pound, muscle is denser and takes up less room under your skin. So if you do weight training several days a week, those muscles will be there waiting when you get less fat.

And, depending where you walk, if it's safe, try walking with an iPod or MP3 player - it makes the time pass faster.

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Old 04-09-2009, 07:36 PM   #11
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Oh okay. Then I guess that's what I like then... "High Intensity Interval Training." So 3-4 times a week? Would I be best brisk walking and doing weights the other days? (as I still can't get over the embarrassment of jogging in public). Thanks for the clarification.. this stuff is so confusing!
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Old 04-10-2009, 04:32 PM   #12
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There are two really great authors that outline all of this information very clearly and offer great basic workout programs:

The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler,
Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto (this is an e-book), and
The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto.

Any of these books offer solid information that demystifies all of the debate about aerobic vs. anaerobic, cardio vs. strength training, etc.
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