Advice please...getting overwhelmed

I'm getting really overwhelmed by all the different fitness information on the internet! I have really good intentions, and currently a lot of time to spend in the gym as I'm unemployed, AND I live literally right across the road from my gym, so no excuses, but I want to make the most of my time there and make every second count.

But I'm trying to figure out the best program for me and I just don't know. When I signed up to the gym, I got a free half hour with a personal trainer, but I've already used that and it's a budget gym where they charge for everything extra, so I can't get another program/training session without paying. And like I said...I'm unemployed.

The trainer told me for my goals (lose weight, tone up) I should be doing just interval training (no weights) to start with, to burn maximum fat, then move on to circuit training after a few weeks when I'm in better shape. His reasoning was that to be toned, you basically need to get rid of all fat, and even if you have muscle, it won't be visible whilst you have fat. So I need to burn fat, THEN build muscle. But I thought you should do both at the same time so prevent burning too much muscle when doing cardio...and from what I've read online, the internet tends to agree with me. Also, I've read that you shouldn't do interval training more than two, max three, times a week. If you can do it every day, you're not doing it hard enough. ALSO, I get the impression the trainer had a lot more to tell me, but the half hour ended and he had another client.

Then if you google anything fitness related, there is just SO much information, and a lot of it is contradictory. Some people say you should do as much cardio as possible, other people seem to think you don't need to do any cardio, just weights, or minimal cardio with focus on weights (not just for body builders). Some sites say eat before a work out, some say it's better on an empty stomach. And they all give very good reasoning. Which...leaves me more confused than before.

So, what should I do at the gym? Based on everything I've read, I made my own program to try and follow. But basically I just want people's opinions on if they think I'm on the right track, or if I'm doing too much/not enough of something. Where I've written arms/abs, it's just from routines I've found on youtube that I feel work for me by XHIL Daily.

Monday: Pilates, arms
Tuesday: Interval training, abs, legs
Wednesday: 30-40 min cardio, arms
Thursday: Yoga, abs
Friday: 30-40 min cardio, arms, abs
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 30-40 min cardio, legs, arms, abs

My goal is to lose about 40lbs of fat, build muscle and tone up (especially arms and stomach).

Ok, done now. Sorry for this essay! I'm just really looking for insight, and thought maybe people on this forum are clearer about this fitness stuff than me.


  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,261 Member
    There really is a lot of info and if you are new to fitness it can be overwhelming. In my experience, the easiest way to start was to do a 50/50 split of cardio and strength training. Over time you might find that you want to lean one way more than the other for various reasons but right now I would say try both.

    Rather than creating your own strength training program, use one of the established programs that you can find (for free) online: Stronglifts 5x5, ICF 5x5, Starting Strength, All Pro's Simple Beginner Routine, Nerd Fitness Beginner Bodyweight, NROLFW, etc. The program will dictate how many days a week it is done (all of those are 3x/week, btw.) Then on the in between days you can do a bit of cardio, whether it is intervals or steady state.

  • luciafernanda
    luciafernanda Posts: 34 Member
    ok thanks I'll check out those programs.
  • skinnyinnotime
    skinnyinnotime Posts: 4,141 Member
    You can't really make up your own program as you don't really know what it is you need to do.

    Look online for a program, try they have some good beginners programs.
  • Lofteren
    Lofteren Posts: 960 Member
    I second doing Stronglifts 5x5 and cardio/HIIT on your off days. You can do your stretching/etc.. after you lift. Your schedule will look like:

    Monday: Lifting
    Tuesday: HIIT
    Wednesday: Lifting
    Thursday: Cardio
    Friday: Lifting
    Saturday: HIIT
    Sunday: Rest

    ...or something like that. My split is similar to this right now and I'm making steady progress with my weight and strength.
  • jacksonpt
    jacksonpt Posts: 10,413 Member
    edited October 2014
    Keep it simple, especially when you are just getting started. Lift a few times a week, do some cardio if you want, and keep your diet in check.

    As a beginner, splitting up body parts is probably going to be less efficient (not ineffective, just inefficient). I'd do full body 3x week. I'd recommend the starting strength program, but we can talk about other options if that doesn't work for you for some reason.

    I'd also work in plenty of stretching/mobility work. It's one of those things that may or may not be truely necessary, but it's hugely beneficial, and is much easier to make part of yoru routine from the beginning than it is to try to fit it in down the road.

    Some endurance cardio also has a variety of benefits.

    Personally, I'd suggest something like this:

    Monday: stronglifts
    Tuesday: stretching/mobility
    Wednesday stronglifts, optional HIIT
    Thursday: cardio and/or stretching/mobility
    Friday: stronglifts, optional HIIT
    Sunday: stretching/mobility, cardio if you feel up to it
    Sunday: rest

    Your rest days don't have to be complete off days. I often use my rest days to walk/hike with my dogs, ride bikes with my kids, maybe take a yoga class, etc. It's about giving your body a chance to recover, not being a total slug (necessarily).
  • steve1686
    steve1686 Posts: 346 Member
    the programs mentioned above would be great to start with. Also, your trainer sounds like an idiot. As a noob to weightlifting you may even be able to build some muscle while losing weight if done correctly. But at the very least you will preserve what muscle you do have by lifting and build some essential strength that will be useful when it IS time to build muscle.
    HIIT or cardio is also good for losing weight, but the most important aspect, by far, is diet
  • gixbr
    gixbr Posts: 34 Member
    It's very overwhelming when you start, there are so many opinions out there, but you have to know sometimes there isn't one right answer, a lot of things work well for different people even if it's the wrong approach.

    An example of the things I struggled with in the beginning:

    - About doing cardio: Cardio or no Cardio? Cardio only? Mainly cardio and some heavy lifting? Mainly heavy lifting and some cardio? Only heave lifting?

    - About lifting weights: Split workout (leg day, shoulder day, etc) or compound workouts (squat, deadlift)?

    - About calories: Am I eating too little or too much? Will I lose muscle eating like this? Am I gaining muscle eating like this?

    The list goes on. :D

    The first thing I did was to read The New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROLFW) and that really opened up my eyes to some concepts I didn't know about. They have a workout plan at the end of the book but I didn't follow it because I had my mind already set on something different. Stronglifts 5x5 is my workout of choice. It's very simple, all compound exercises 3 days a weeks. Because of its simplicity, it leaves you time to focus on good form. I watch tons of youtube videos on how to do squats, deadlifts, etc...

    Right now I do stronglifts 3 days a week, and on rest days I run on the elliptical for 45 minutes, just to boost calorie burning and for endurance. Here's some of the concepts I've adopted for myself after reading and learning from other people, it might help you:

    -You don't need cardio to lose weight, the right calorie deficit will make you lose weight. You go to the gym to become fit.

    -Cardio boosts calorie burning but again is not necessary for weight loss. It's definitely helpful though. I think I saw someone here saying something like "Lifting weight is good for body composition and cardio for heart and lungs".

    -Count your macros. The right amount of protein, carbs and fat you eat during the day is really important.

    -There is no such thing as toning your body. As you build muscles and lose body fat, those muscles start showing up and gives the appearance of what people call "toned".

    - There is something called TDEE that is more important than BMI.

    - And the one I like the most: you don't need to eat 1200 calories a day in order to lose weight, life is so much better when you don't starve yourself :smile:

    I think my main advice is, pick a workout, focus on good form so you don't get hurt and eventually you will know what works for you and what doesn't. It's hard to know everything before you start.
  • I can relate. I currently work part-time and I have to watch my finances. Create a simple workout plan for you and build from there. You will eventually accomplish your fitness goals. Also modify your eating habits too. You will find a good trainer that will help you and will connect with. Everything will work out fine.
  • jgnatca
    jgnatca Posts: 14,464 Member
    I wouldn't stress too much about trying to make the "right" choice. The success is taking that first step forward. You might enjoy this talk about choice: