I was at lunch with a very fit, very thin friend of mine today and I was asking her for tips regarding exercises in general and strength and weight training in particular.
She told me that if I want to see results I should try to do cardio and strength training every day, perhaps allowing myself to rest for one day. She told me that I should start doing bodyweight exercises (squats, pushups, pull ups, lounges etc) every day until I feel like I have increased my strength, and then switch to weight training once I can do most bodyweight exercises (and for weight training she recommended alternating upper and lower body on consecutive days).
What do you guys think? Do you think that bodyweight exercises every day is going to be too much? What about free weights/machines? What if you only do it for 10-20 minutes every day? I am clueless when it comes to exercises and especially weights...
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I do some strength training every day but it isn't the same thing nor does it work the exact same muscles every day. I do a lot of body weight exercises and some free weights. I don't actually recommend machines or can I say, I'd recommend against machines. I think body weight exercises are great but even with that, you could still mix in some free weights.
You can't out-exercise poor eating habits.
I think she's right ... and wrong. Starting with bodyweight exercises isn't a bad way to go, although it depends on the exercise. Pushups, pullups, dips, and squats can be bodyweight exercises, but so too are (ineffective) leg raises and donkey kicks.
Eventually, though, if you want to build muscle strength, you need to lift weights, and push yourself to "lift heavy." If you lift heavy there's simply no way that you can work out every day and still give yourself adequate recovery time. Even with an upper/lower split. Yes, bodybuilders do it, but most are either genetically advantaged or on drugs or both.
So what about machines? I'm coming around to the view that there is a place for them. This is especially true for legs: without adequate coaching, many people just can't get the "feel" of squats or deadlifts in their quads and glutes. They wind up working their backs pretty well -- too much, even -- but their legs don't get sufficiently trained. A few sets of leg presses and leg curls on machines will help with this problem. But, I wouldn't build the entire workout around machines.
Low-intensity cardio + weights is fine and possibly even beneficial. (LISS aids in recovery, increases work endurance, etc.) High-intensity cardio, including HIIT, is catabolic and harms muscle recovery. So, you're working your body at cross purposes.
Plus there's a time issue. A high-intensity weight workout with adequate rest periods for muscle growth will take about an hour. (No, you don't get the same effect from 20 minutes of circuit training -- it's a different type of training, for pump not for hypertrophy.) If you're then going to throw an hour of cardio on top of that, or even 40 minutes + a shower, you're looking at (pauses to count fingers) 2 hours in the gym. Per day. Most people can't do that long-term, either practically or mentally. Well, maybe Mel, but she's superwoman!
If you are a beginner to resistance training (aka strength training, aka weight lifting) then you definitely do NOT want to do it everyday. General recommendations suggest you start off doing resistance training just two days a week with no more than three days apart. For example you could do it on Mon & Thurs, Tues & Fri, Wed & Sat.
In addition because you are a beginner, you want to do full body resistance training on these days and you may want to start off with body weight exercises for the most part at least the first week. You'll want to start off with a minimum of 12 reps and 1-3 sets with 30-60 seconds of rest in between sets.
Here is a sample workout any beginner can follow:
Frequency: 2 X per week Mon & Thurs
Rest between sets: 30-60 seconds
Squats (you may do squats with a stability ball or bench squats to start off and improve form)
Push-ups (regular or modified)
Seated-row or one-arm Dumbbell row
Lateral shoulder raises
As time progresses you can consider adding some weight, or in the case of push-ups progress to regular if you were doing modified). If you are bigger, getting up and down on the floor may be difficult, in which case you can modify exercises.
Do the exercises in the order listed. It is always best to start with the largest muscles first. You may not noticed bicep curls or tricep extensions in this beginner workout, because guess what, they are already being worked in the exercises listed even if they aren't being isolated.
The beginner program is designed to target all the large muscles of your body to help you burn more calories and to help your body adjust to the changes. Once you become more advanced you can go into what is called a split routine where you alternate upper and lower body exercises.
Like your diet the most important part of an exercise program is that it be one you can stick with. For a beginner I would suggest weight training 3 times a week full body. That way if you miss a day you still got in 2 days that week which is the bare minimum.
If you have time do cardio and weight lifting but if you don't prioritize weight lifting over cardio.
Every day?? Wow, that's too much. I was doing it 3 times a week at first and I'm a beginner too. It's important that you take it easy on yourself. Weight training is soo good for toning and that's more of what I'm aiming for. Now I do weight training every other day working my whoel body. I haven't felt any wrong doing this so far, especially since I'm only doing it for 35 mins and I add 5 mins every week. Last time I joined the gym and had very hard expectatons for myself, I pulled a muscle. Did not like that one bit. Just take it easy on yourself and don't do too much so fast.
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