I used to weigh 210 pounds and have lost 68 pounds but gained some back. Now I can’t seem to get below 150 pounds. The first time I lost the weight it was just by watching what I ate. I think I need to exercise so today I started an exercise routine which consists of aerobics 5 times a week and a mixture of weight training and calisthenics 5 times a week. I’m working each muscle group 2-3 times a week. I have also started to watch what I eat again. My question is how long should it take before I see results? I have a medium frame and I tend to build muscle easier than most women I know. The problem is I lost a lot of muscle when I lost weight the first time because I was not exercising. Does my exercise plan look okay for me? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
First off, it’s very important for you to always include 3 key factors in your fitness plan. These include diet, weight training and cardio. These 3 key areas will help you achieve the body of your dreams. If you allow yourself to slack on one or more of these 3 areas, you will have a much harder time reaching your physique goals. The importance of these 3 main areas breaks down like this:
- Diet: Without a doubt, the most important area of your fitness plan is what you put into your mouth. What you eat and drink contributes to as much as 75% of your physique results. The old saying goes, “You can’t out exercise a bad diet” and this is so true. If you get off track with your diet and decide to have some fun and eat a pizza, you will literally need to run for 3-4 hours to burn off the amount of calories in that high calorie meal that is loaded with carbs and fat. So, always remember to focus on your diet first when you are in doubt about why you have gained weight or can’t break a weight loss plateau.
- Weight Training: The next area of importance in your fitness plan is lifting weights. After your diet, weight training is the most important thing you need to make sure you include in your overall plan. Lean muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in your body and it burns approximately 50-70 calories per pound every day. So, if you can pack on 10 pounds of lean muscle mass, you will burn an additional 500-700 calories every day. This means if you cheat on your diet and have a cheeseburger, the lean muscle tissue that you’ve added will burn off all those calories! This is why it’s so important to always include weight training to build muscle tissue and increase your metabolism.
- Cardio: The final area of your fitness plan is to include cardio exercise. Doing cardio helps your body burn off excess calories and it’s also great for your heart and overall cardiovascular system. The way you can look at cardio exercise would be as a “fat loss insurance plan” which means that as long as you get your cardio workout in, you know that even though you might slack on your diet and have some french fries or junk food, you know that you have burned an additional 200-400 calories which will help with controlling your body fat levels.
In terms of your current weight training workout routine, if you’re training each muscle group 2-3 times per week, this is simply way too much and can quickly cause issues with overtraining. Your muscles need to recover from your workouts and if you train a muscle group with intense exercises, you really need to have sufficient rest to allow the muscle fibers to completely recover before training the muscle group again.
I recommend training each muscle group only once per week to fully allow your muscles to recover from your workouts and to avoid any plateau issues that come with overtraining. If you train at a high intensity level, you should see great results lifting weights only 3 days per week. You want to tear down the muscle fibers and give your body ample rest to build and repair them before the next workout. Here is a great 3 day workout routine:
- Monday: Chest and back
- Wednesday: Legs
- Friday: Shoulders and arms
You can do cardio 5-6 days per week to lose body fat. A great tip is to do 1 hour of cardio in the morning on an empty stomach. To preserve lean muscle tissue, you may want to drink a BCAA (branched chain amino acid) supplement or have a scoop of protein powder in water before doing your cardio workout but make sure not to eat any carbs or fat pre-workout. The protein and amino acids will supply your muscles with important nutrients to preserve lean tissue during your cardio workout.
By doing cardio in the morning, it will allow you to tap directly into your fat stores without relying on glycogen (carbs) for fuel. If you eat carbs before your cardio workout, your body will need to burn off those carbs for energy before tapping into fat and this could take anywhere from 20-30 minutes.
Also, try to cut out all starches and sugars after 7pm. When you eat excess carbohydrates later at night, your insulin sensitivity is lowered which means the nutrients will not be stored as efficiently as they would be earlier in the day, so these carbs will have a much easier time being stored as fat versus being utilized as energy. Snacking on late night carbs also affects pleasure centers in your brain and releases serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is a “feel good” chemical that will make you want to eat more and more while sitting on the couch watching your favorite TV show.
By including the golden triangle of weight training to build and maintain lean muscle tissue, cardio sessions to burn fat and a clean diet to optimally fuel your body, you will be on your way to the physique of your dreams!