Archive for the tag - exercise for beginners

What Can I Do to Lose Weight Faster?

Dear Davey,

I’m 44 years old and weigh 327 pounds. In the last 20 months I have lost 214 pounds. Yes, I used to weigh 541 pounds… and I’ve been overweight since I was 3 years old.

I came out in July of 2010 and started losing weight after I fell in love with a man that broke my heart. It threw me into a deep depression and I lost my appetite for several months. After not eating for 4 months, I had lost a considerable amount of weight and, when my appetite returned, I limited my meals to just one per day and that is how I have continued to lose weight.

Even though I go to the gym, my weight has slowed down in the last couple of months and now I am struggling to lose weight. Is there anything more I can do activity wise to speed up my weight loss?

Regards,
Al

Dear Al,

I’m really touched by your story.

Congratulations, first and foremost, on coming out of the closet. I think you’ll agree that life is too short to spend it hiding who you are.

Though your weight loss journey didn’t start under the best circumstances, perhaps your situation is an opportunity-in-disguise to create a new, healthier lifestyle for yourself. But because of the underlying issues and depression, I would encourage you to reach out to a trained professional.

I’m not surprised that your weight loss has plateaued.

Our bodies are very smart. When you starve your body, your metabolism comes to a crawl; your body tries to burn as little calories as humanly possible to stay alive. Your body goes into survival mode.

When you do eventually start eating again, you’re stuck with this slower metabolism. Because you are consuming calories and burning very few, it’s very hard to lose weight. And continuing to starve your body with only 1 meal a day isn’t helping.

There are two things you need to do: Eat and exercise.

Your body needs food – and you need to feed it. Instead of eating one meal a day (and wrecking havoc on your body’s metabolism), opt for three well-balanced and nutritionally-sound meals. This government website provides guidance for building a healthy plate of food with appropriate portions. In short, it’s about selecting lots of veggies, some fruits, whole grains, protein and dairy.

Beyond three meals, give your body healthy snacks in between. A handful of unsalted nuts or an apple or carrot sticks and hummus will help curb hunger throughout the day. And be sure to drink lots of water; it nourishes your body and boosts your metabolism. Speaking of boosting your metabolism, here are 9 effective ways to do just that!

When it comes to exercise, it’s great that you’re hitting the gym. Exercise will get your heart pumping and it will incinerate calories – even after your workout is complete. Make sure your combining both cardiovascular exercise and strength training as both are needed to maximize your results. And if you’re feeling unsure or uncomfortable at the gym, it’s always a wise idea to hire a personal trainer (even if it’s just for a few sessions).

Again, I’m very touched by your story – and I wish you the best of luck as you transform your body and your life.

Love,
Davey

If you have a fitness question for Davey Wavey, ask him!

How to Overcome Fear of the Gym.

Feeling uncomfortable or intimidated at the gym is actually fairly common among beginners. With bodybuilders and seasoned exercisers and athletes, it’s easy to feel out of place or like you don’t belong.

I think the most obvious piece of advice for overcoming those feelings is to not care what other people might think about you. If you measure yourself by the feelings and whims of others, you are in for a very difficult life. Of course, not caring is easier said than done for a lot of people.

So I decided to make a short video with some more practical advice for overcoming intimidation at the gym. Check it out.

Fitness Advice for a Newbie.

Hey Davey,

So finally I made up my mind to go to the gym and get bulked. I’m here asking you for help in making a full body gym routine for me. I have a few questions:

  1. I’ve been thinking about hitting the gym 5 times a week minimum. Is this a good amount?
  2. How much weight should I add on when weightlifting per week?
  3. As I want to lower my body fat percentage, should I go low on carbs and high on protein?
  4. And since I want to add bulk, should I not focus on cardio exercise?

Best regards,
Josimir

Hey Josimir,

Congratulations on your commitment to a healthier and stronger you!

You have four basic questions about frequency of exercise, progression, diet and ratio of cardio to strength training. I’ll do my best to answer these questions in a general way, but you’ll need to customize my advice for your individual goals, circumstances and situation.

Frequency of exercise is huge. Your commitment to 5x per week is noble, but it’s something I’d advise against. Yes, going to the gym more frequently does help accelerate results – but it also increases burnout rates for new exercisers. I advise newbies to hit the gym 3x per week for 30 – 45 minutes. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s really about making your gym commitment sustainable. Once this minimal workout schedule feels doable, add in another day – or extend your workout times by 15 minutes. Gradually build up to a schedule that is more in line with the results you want.

Since you’re looking to increase muscle mass, progressing to heavier levels of resistance is a must. You ask about adding resistance per week, but it doesn’t really work like that. Progression is different for each person and each body, but I generally recommend following the “2 for 2 Rule.” When you can do 2 extra repetitions on your last set of a given exercise for workouts in a row, it’s time to add more weight. If you are new to working out, you may be able to increase resistance by 5% – 10%. If you are more advanced, 2% – 5% may be more appropriate. This usually amounts to 2.5 – 5 pounds for smaller muscle groups and 5 – 10 pounds for larger muscle groups. If you have questions about the number of repetitions that you should be performing, read more about it here.

Regarding diet, a low-carb and high-protein diet is in line with your fitness goal of increasing muscle size and definition. Just remember that your body does need both protein and carbs after you complete a workout. It’s important not to eliminate carbs entirely.

Lastly, you do need to perform both cardio and strength training. Cardio provides a number of great benefits that will help improve your lifting – and life. For people looking to add muscle, I recommend 30% cardio to 70% strength training. In other words, if you exercise for 45 minutes, you’d spend just under 15 minutes doing some type of cardio – preferably interval training. The rest of your time would go to strength training. For people looking to release weight, I recommend a cardio/strength training ratio of 50/50. For definition or general health, a cardio/strength training ratio of 40/60.

I hope all that helps! And again, congratulations on your commitment!

Love,
Davey

P.S. For detailed step-by-step help building a routine that is customized to your goals, I can’t help but plug my Ultimate Guide to Working Out. It essentially hires me as your personal trainer – together, we create a complete and comprehensive program that works for you.

New to the Gym and in Need of Help?

Hey Davey,

I’m new to the gym and i just wanted to ask a few questions to get me going and get me on the right track. I weigh about 190 lbs. and am 5’11”.

I am mainly going to the gym to turn all this fat into muscle. I go to the gym 5 days a week, and the first thing I want to know is how long will take for me too see results? Also, if I am looking to turn this fat into muscle should I be doing any cardio exercise or should I just focus on the free weights?

Thanks for the great questions – and congratulations on joining a gym. You’ve already taken the hardest step: The first one.

First things first, I don’t mean to split hairs… but, you will never turn any of your body fat into muscle. Fatty tissue and muscle fibers are totally different. When you exercise, you’ll lose the fatty tissue and build muscle. It’s a technicality, but it’s important to understand how the process works.

Secondly, it’s great that you’re feeling ambitious enough to exercise 5 days a week. I generally advise my clients to start with 3 days a week for 30 – 45 minutes. Small changes are sustainable changes, and people that go all out tend to burn out. As I’ve said before, getting into shape is much like running a marathon. You’d never start a marathon by sprinting, and in the same way it’s important to pace yourself and ease into your new lifestyle.

Third, the time line for results varies from person to person. The first changes you’ll notice may be internal. You might have more energy, better sleeping habits or more focus. These changes can happen very quickly – even within a few weeks. You may also notice that you’re less winded when exerting yourself in life – be it climbing stairs, running after a bus, etc. And of course, you’ll notice changes when you look in the mirror, too. The muscles in your arms build fairly quickly, so you’ll probably start noticing a difference with you biceps in as little as 6 weeks. Since most of the changes happen slowly over time, I always advise my clients to take “before” and “after” pictures on a regular schedule. Some changes may be too slow for your eye to notice, but you can easily compare pictures from different months.

Last but not least, it’s extremely important that you do both strength training and cardio. Cardio has a zillion tremendous benefits that you won’t want to miss out on, and in many ways the cardio will complement and improve your performance in the weight room – not to mention overall health. And don’t worry: Moderate cardio does not result in muscle loss.

Again, congratulations on opening this new, healthier chapter in your life! Keep us posted on your success.

How to Start Exercising: 8 Steps!

Taking a before and after picture can help motivate you as you make progress - and to notice those changes that occur gradually.

The journey to a healthier lifestyle always begins with a single first step. It’s something that you’ll have in common with every fitness enthusiast you ever meet – we all had to take a first step. Perhaps the time is now for you to take yours.

But how do you truly start from scratch?

  1. Visit a doctor to make sure you have the green light to exercise. Ensure that you don’t have any restrictive conditions. If you do, ask the doctor for some guidance.
  2. Take a before picture. Changes are generally slow, and your eye may not perceive the differences. Take a picture so that you can compare yourself in 3 – 6 months. The changes will motivate you.
  3. Write three realistic goals for your body attached to specific dates. Maybe you want to drop 20 lbs by February 1. Be as specific as possible. Now you know where you would like to go – it’s just a matter of getting there.
  4. Identify three, 30-45 minute blocks of time in your schedule that you can dedicate to exercise in a week. It’s important to start small, so that you can adjust to change in your routine. It will also prevent you from overexerting yourself and burning out. Over time, we can increase the frequency or duration of your exercise commitment. Can’t find time? Make it. You don’t have time not to workout – so chop out TV time or the computer.
  5. Schedule those times and dates into your planner, iPhone, calendar, blackberry or whatever other device you may use. Treat this scheduled time with importance like your life depends on it – because it does.
  6. Decide if you will workout at home or at the gym. Either will work. If you decide on the gym, join one!
  7. Plan your three, 30-45 minute workouts. Your goals and current abilities will determine how you use your time, but remember that you’ll want to do two types of exercise: cardio and strength training. Cardio will make you sweat, and it includes walking, jogging, running, swimming, jumping rope or even doing jumping jacks. Strength training exercises work your muscles, and include weight machines, push-ups, pull-ups, free weights, etc. No matter what your goals are, you’ll want to include both cardio and strength training.Here’s an example workout: Warm-up jogging for 3 minutes; Stretch for 3 minutes; Moderate jogging for 10 minutes; Abs for 5 minutes; Triceps for 5 minutes; Push-ups for 5 minutes; Stretch for 3 minutes. Done! That would be a great example of what you could do on one of your days.
  8. Stick to it. Yes, perseverance is key. Since you’re only committing to a few sessions of exercise each way, it should be easier to make this a habit.

Over time, you may decide to expand the time or frequency of your exercise. Or you might find that your current plan isn’t helping you reach the goals that you outline – that’s okay. You’ve at least taken the first step. You may want to work with a personal trainer or do some research to figure out what you need to do differently.

Congratulations on having the resolve to make this change in your life!

And if you have any tips for beginners – or questions – please share them in the comments below!