My "method" of getting "in shape" consisted of Googling "weight lifting for weight loss" and picking a workout routine that the readers of a weightlifting website voted as "the best". I also made an effort to think about eating less junk food. I bought a gym membership and started on a 6 day a week workout routine after work.
I made it a point to only weigh myself once a month and not obsess about early results. The rational being that so long as I was sticking to the schedule and making an effort, I would see results at some point. I set a weight loss goal of 18 to 30 months to achieve a target weight and 6 to 8 months to reach a "ideal" workout target for the amount of weight I was lifting.
The first couple of months went fairly good. I did most of what I set out to do and my strength was growing according to schedule. Then I hit a wall, or a plateau depending on how you look at it. I stopped being able to increase the weights I was lifting. My body weight remained steady and then started yo-yoing on me. I was tired of my workouts and discouraged about my results.
I needed a new plan.
So I asked an older guy at the gym what he thought I should do. He suggest that I forget about the system I was doing and focus on getting my strength at target levels BEFORE even THINKING ABOUT LOSSING WEIGHT AGAIN. That seemed like crap advice to me, since the goal is to lose weight. So I floundered around for another 6 weeks or so not making any progress and even putting a couple of pounds back on. It seems like maybe two or three other guys gave me the exact same advice too.
A couple of points about lifting weights to lose weight:
- Advice on weight lifting routines to "lose weight" should be taken with a grain of salt. Skip that. Advice on the internet designed to help a person who is at 10% body fat drop down to 7% body fat so they can go to a competition might not work so great if you need to drop inches and pounds.
- If you're really out of shape, getting muscle back should be the priority, not dropping pounds. This is counter intuitive. It is also correct. Focus on getting to your target performance level. If you want to rep 10 X 275lbs on the bench (or whatever combination of lifting exercise goals) as a way to lose body fat then focus on getting to the 275lbs not on dropping weight.
- IF you're old, meaning over 30, 40, 50 etc, admit it and deal with it. You might need more than one rest day a week to recover and get stronger/leaner.
- There is no "perfect" or "best" plan that works for everyone, every time.
- If you don't have a plan, pick one. Any one. That's right it doesn't matter much. Just start lifting correctly and stick with the routine for at lest 3 months.
- Reevaluate after 90 days of doing the plan. Now you have started a new habit and you have some kind of idea about how your body is reacting to the exercise.
- Get a new plan and try it for 90 days.
- Rinse and repeat.
What I like about the new plan:
- All free weights all the time. I had become dependent on the Smith machine. I like the Smith Machine. If you are lifting late at night, by your lonesome its nice to be able to twist your wrists and "save" yourself from a bad rep. BUT by the time you're pressing/squatting etc 200lbs or better on the Smith, you're in good enough shape to use the free weights and get your balance and auxiliary muscles into the act. I was stuck with my crutch and need to move on.
- It takes 35 to 45 minutes including warm up to get it all done.
- It's a "major muscle group" plan. I had been doing all the muscle groups individually once a week and wasn't making much progress.
- I'm doing 3 exercises I wasn't doing before.
- Once you plateau there is a plan designed to move you into more "advanced" lifting.
- Add regular moderate cardio.
- Get a flexibility routine
- Work on diet. I like "healthy" foods, I just like eating refined carbs too. The carbs are killing me, probably literally.
- I'm thinking that a massage routine might help my recovery. The problem is that I don't have that kind of money in the budget right now.