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Going To Start At The Gym

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Right - I'm mid forties, 5'10" and about a stone and a bit over my 'ideal' weight. I haven't done anything in the form of regular excercise in the last 15 years but our local gym, where my wife and one daughter have been going to every week had a special offer on family memberships so I've become a member too.

I'm dreadfully unfit to begin with. My aims are to generally tone up, but especially my stomach (and face!!), and build up a bit of muscle on my chest, arms and legs. Can anybody give me any general advice here? The gym itelf is modern and well stocked with gym-looking machines. It also has a 25m swimming pool and a sauna and steam room. This one

What should I start with? Bikes, rowing machines etc and/or weights?

When doing weights, should I set them to a weight I find difficult to lift, or something lighter and go for more repetition?

How long per session?

How long per activity?

Is there a good 'order' in which to do things per session?

I know I won't be able to move the day after I go for at least the first few times. What's the best way to mitigate/reduce this?

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to mitigate the tiredness a warm down is vital on cardio. on average do about a minute for every 10 minutes so if you bike for 30mins, warm down for 3mins, 45 mins do 4 mins an hour do 5 mins warm down.

this will get rid of the lactic acid in your muscle which is what makes it sore, but to be honest for the first 2-3 weeks if youve not done much excercise for a while, its going to hurt after no matter what :)

for repetition just set your weight at a level you can do 10-12 and no more.

30 mins cardio is really the minimum time on a machine, if you cant do this, slow down or go to an easier setting until you are able to do at least 30 minutes of it. ideally you want to go for an hour.

the exception to this is the rowing machine, also known as the pain machine. whoever invented that machine has a sadistic side and likes to watch people suffer in exhaustion, hurt and pure agony.

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I know I won't be able to move the day after I go for at least the first few times. What's the best way to mitigate/reduce this?

You won't be able to move for at least a few days after if you overdo it, not a day. Having said that, if you don't feel a burn afterwards then you're not making forward progress anyway. Just don't go crazy. Avoid injuries at all costs. Maintain good form and lay off if you feel pain anywhere.

Swimming is good for cardio and low impact on joints, as is cycling. I would avoid a running machine personally because it destroys my knees.

Weight-wise, if you want to bulk up then use heavy weights at low repetitions. If you want definition and fat loss use lighter weights and higher repetitions. Serious lifters usually separate body parts into different days. For you that's probably unnecessary. Exercising 3 times a week is a good number. Always take days off to recover, otherwise injury will strike.

Anyway that's just some starter advice from me. Others here will have more in depth opinions I'm sure. I've always exercised at home to save money, using dumbells and various exercises. Currently I've discovered the joys of chin-ups on a bar outdoors (lots of fun). And I now plan to bulk up because I've never tried it before. I'm early forties btw.

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I'm dreadfully unfit to begin with. My aims are to generally tone up, but especially my stomach (and face!!), and build up a bit of muscle on my chest, arms and legs.

Your first aim should be to lose weight. Building muscle comes next.

Start with just the treadmills. Start at a jogging pace and try and jog for 10-15 minutes. Then have a break by reducing the speed to walking pace and walking for 2-3 minutes then start the jogging again. Do this until you are tired then have a complete break for 5-10 minutes. Then repeat.

Take an iPod or something and listen to music while you jog so you don't get bored. Jogging will tire you out at first and you will probably find it difficult to move on to other things like lifting weights or rowing but believe me the weight will begin to fall off you if you are doing no exercise now.

Remember, do not over exert yourself and stick to a schedule. Go the gym maybe 3 times per week and slowly build up your work out. It is very easy to exert yourself at first as your muscles will not be used to working out.

How long per session?

I think that for most people an hour in the gym per day is standard but if you are knackered after 30 minutes don't worry. Stick to 30 minutes at first and see how you feel then increase the time if you want to.

Maybe stick to this for 1-2 weeks and when you feel comfortable incorporate other exercises like weight lifting. Ask a member of staff how to use the machines properly. Don't be embarrassed as they would rather you use them properly than injure yourself and they have to call an ambulance or something.

If you are brave enough try swimming as well. Maybe once a week just swim lengths in the pool. It can be boring as hell, but it is probably one of the best all-round exercised as you are working out virtually every part of your body.

Remember, eating healthily is more important than working out. If your diet is awful all the exercise in the world will not help. Start with replacing all your daily drinks by water and cutting out sweets, crisps and chocolate. Eat more fruit and veg etc.

Hope this helps.

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If you're unfit it doesn't matter too much what you do.

If you want to do weights look at either stronglifts 5x5 or starting strength. Both are really good beginners programs and if you've never lifted before you'll be amazed at how strong you can get in a short period of time.

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98% Chimp: Great advice. As for diet, I don't like sweet stuff and much prefer fresh and home-cooked stuff to processed food. Mrs blobloblob and I both like to cook and, though I say so myself, are both pretty good at it. I have always loved fatty foods - red meat, cheese etc although I did cut down on these a lot a couple of years ago and have subsequently lost around a stone but I would class my diet as that of a 'foodie'.

mfp123: by warming down, what would you do? Also, the sauna and steam rooms - are they of use?

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98% Chimp: Great advice. As for diet, I don't like sweet stuff and much prefer fresh and home-cooked stuff to processed food. Mrs blobloblob and I both like to cook and, though I say so myself, are both pretty good at it. I have always loved fatty foods - red meat, cheese etc although I did cut down on these a lot a couple of years ago and have subsequently lost around a stone but I would class my diet as that of a 'foodie'.

mfp123: by warming down, what would you do? Also, the sauna and steam rooms - are they of use?

to warm down just do the same activity but lower your intensity to about 30%. so if youre jogging go down to walking pace, if youre on a bike lower the resistance and reduce your rpm. when youre warming down it should just feel like youre going through the motions and could do it whilst chatting at the same time. by the time youve finished warming down you shouldnt be out of breath and your body should feel like its stabilised.

sometimes you might think i dont need to warm down or ill cut my warm down short cause this is boring, but its very important you stick to it or youll pay for it the next day or 2 if you just stop dead after your cardio.

the worst thing to do is finish doing cardio and think im so exhausted i dont even have the energy to warm down, i just want to rest, im knackered. all the acid will just linger in your muscles and will feel more sore tomorrow.

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If your gym has free weights and a squat stand (looks from the pics as if it does) then I strongly recommend giving Stronglifts 5x5 a try. Three months of following the program three times a week will result in remarkable changes to your strength and physique. I've been lifting free weights on and off for 4 years now- I'm not a huge guy by any means, just over 13 stone at 5'10 1/2, but I'm strong enough now for my strength to never be a limiting factor in anything I want to do, and I find that very liberating.

http://stronglifts.com/

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Choose something you enjoy. Or at least you have a feeling you may learn to enjoy it.

Otherwise you won't keep it up - 99% guaranteed.

And learn how to stretch properly. Taking up something like yoga is probably as important as doing the exercise itself imo.

Tight bodies have lots of problems.

Good luck.

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Look into HIIT for cardio to not become mind numbingly dull.

That said, I'm not sure I'd do HIIT in the gym, alone!

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Right - I'm mid forties, 5'10" and about a stone and a bit over my 'ideal' weight. I haven't done anything in the form of regular excercise in the last 15 years but our local gym, where my wife and one daughter have been going to every week had a special offer on family memberships so I've become a member too.

I'm dreadfully unfit to begin with. My aims are to generally tone up, but especially my stomach (and face!!), and build up a bit of muscle on my chest, arms and legs. Can anybody give me any general advice here? The gym itelf is modern and well stocked with gym-looking machines. It also has a 25m swimming pool and a sauna and steam room. This one

What should I start with? Bikes, rowing machines etc and/or weights?

When doing weights, should I set them to a weight I find difficult to lift, or something lighter and go for more repetition?

How long per session?

How long per activity?

Is there a good 'order' in which to do things per session?

I know I won't be able to move the day after I go for at least the first few times. What's the best way to mitigate/reduce this?

Are you Gary Neville?

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You may see a chart of heart rates by age on the equipment. If I were you, I would aim to start by sustaining your heart rate at the bottom of the 'fat burning' zone. It will burn fat, steadily improve fitness, help avoid injury and stop you building up lactic acid in your muscles which is implicated in sore/stiff muscles for days after.

I generally do short very intense exercise at a high heart rate.

I have very few issues with injury and stiff muscles.

Each to their own - but personally i think the 'plodding' approach gives pretty poor results. And takes more of your time.

Exercise until you feel you are almost about to collapse - but do it for lots of short periods.

Works for me and many others.

Off for a wee run round a hill now. Won't be any more than 20-25 minutes.

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1. Ignore any fit ladies & DON'T allow yourself to get sucked into any macho behaviour. At least not until you've improved your fitness/muscle.

2. Warm up can be anything that raises your heart rate GRADUALLY. Start off walking on a treadmill & slowly increase.

3. A warm down can be something simple like stretching at the end of your gym session. I tend not to bother as I don't mind muscle ache.

4. Whatever exercise/weight training you decide to do, just build the effort up slowly. Once you & your body are more familiar with exercise, then put the real effort in.

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1. Ignore any fit ladies & DON'T allow yourself to get sucked into any macho behaviour. At least not until you've improved your fitness/muscle.

I think that it is important, when choosing a gym, that you avoid one where it is full of macho neanderthals whose entire masculinity is tied up into how much weight can be lifted.

If you end up competing with such people you will not only lose but you could injure yourself. At the very least it is doubtful that you would get any benefits from such a place.

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How about getting yourself a bike or some other machine? Gym memberships sound very expensive so I'm guessing it might overall work out cheaper, and if you chuck it in front of the TV you can at least watch something whilst using it (stick on a DVD if there's nothing worth watching). Plus if it's at home it might avoid the problem of motivating yourself to get out and down to the gym. The obvious downside is you're stuck with just the machine you've bought.

I'm saying this because I'm thinking of it. I've no willpower to keep up gym visits but should be able to muster enough to pop into another room.

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What should I start with? Bikes, rowing machines etc and/or weights?

When doing weights, should I set them to a weight I find difficult to lift, or something lighter and go for more repetition?

How long per session?

How long per activity?

Is there a good 'order' in which to do things per session?

There's a lot of good info for you here: Reddit Fitness FAQ

Diet's the key thing you didn't mention. There are 101 ways to achieve the rest so just experiment and stick with what you enjoy. However to save you spending unnecessary cash on an expensive personal trainer, here's what I'd do if I were you.

Attend 3 times a week (rest day inbetween), 60 mins a session. 30 mins weights followed by 30 mins cardio.

Weights:

Chest Press or Shoulder Press (alternate each time you attend).

Back. Hopefully they have an assisted chin up machine, failing that substitute lat pulldown or rows.

Legs. Simple leg press should do it.

Don't worry about isolating arms, abs or anything else. It's too time consuming. 10 minutes on each exercise. 3 sets of 10 reps. rest a couple of mins between sets. 30 mins and you should be done.

Cardio:

For cardio try out running, bikes and rowing machine first time round. Then mix and match according to what you enjoy. Take it easy initially and don't full on ruin yourself, but ensure you're a little out of breath. Main thing is to do the 30 mins, or build up to it without injury.

Personally I lift heavy 3 times a week, and tag on 30 mins cardio (Run or Row) twice a week. I do mainly barbell work (Bench Press, Shoulder Press, Squat, Deadlift or Rows) with some bodyweight stuff (Pull ups, Chin Ups, Dips) and it keeps me ticking over.

I know I won't be able to move the day after I go for at least the first few times. What's the best way to mitigate/reduce this?

Just take it easy to begin with and build up. First two weeks will be the hardest, but after that it'll get easier.

Anytime you take yourself out of the comfort zone there'll be soreness. Sometimes I'll add 2.5kg to an exercise and I'l be as sore as hell the next day, even though I've been doing that same movement for years.

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How about getting yourself a bike or some other machine? Gym memberships sound very expensive so I'm guessing it might overall work out cheaper, and if you chuck it in front of the TV you can at least watch something whilst using it (stick on a DVD if there's nothing worth watching). Plus if it's at home it might avoid the problem of motivating yourself to get out and down to the gym. The obvious downside is you're stuck with just the machine you've bought.

I'm saying this because I'm thinking of it. I've no willpower to keep up gym visits but should be able to muster enough to pop into another room.

When I was very ill 7 or 8 years back I purchased myself a water-rower rowing machine and used that for a or two to bring my fitness levels up. I then sold it for about 60% of what I paid for it and bought an exercise bike.

Both could be used at home and in front of the TV or listening to music. On cold, dark days or wet days I did not have to go out to the gym. I used them virtually every day.

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Swimming is great to start with. Builds up muscles in chest and shoulders, lung capacity and stamina. Relatively low chance of picking up an injury. Add in other stuff as your fitness improves.

A warning for breaststroke though. Can be bad for the knees.

Freeystyle is the one to go for. However unless you used to swim for a club when younger - i can not emphasise enough the benefits of having some lessons for technique. Priceless.

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How about getting yourself a bike or some other machine? Gym memberships sound very expensive so I'm guessing it might overall work out cheaper, and if you chuck it in front of the TV you can at least watch something whilst using it (stick on a DVD if there's nothing worth watching). Plus if it's at home it might avoid the problem of motivating yourself to get out and down to the gym. The obvious downside is you're stuck with just the machine you've bought.

I'm saying this because I'm thinking of it. I've no willpower to keep up gym visits but should be able to muster enough to pop into another room.

When I had an exercise bike it just sat in the corner ignored, also the problem is that I want to do various different exercises (combinations of weight, running, X-trainer, cycling) and obviously the cost of buying all of those is prohibitive.

I think the thing to do is to intergrate your gym visits into your working day, either early morning or on your way home. Of course the problem is the work pattern and how much commuting you have to do, if you're really lucky and have a flexible employer you might even be able to fit in a session at lunch time.

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