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Workout regime for a beginner

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 10, 2010 at 5:03 PM

I am 53 year old, 5'10" - went Paleo after reading Mark Sisson's "Primal Blueprint" in May 2010. Went from 210 lbs to 183 lbs in 5 months. Diet includes Dairy,(only home made yogurt and cheese) - NO grains and only butter, ghee, EVOO, used for cooking. This weight loss was accomplished by just diet change and a daily 45 minute leisurely walk.

During my entire 53 years I have NEVER exercised in any serious way or played any sport - i do not even know how to swim. I was/am a nerd, I am an accomplished scientist.

My weight has kind of plateaued for the last 2 months and I am inclined to begin a workout program that I can manage on my own and something that I can sustain.

I tried to follow Mark Sisson's advice - "Primal fitness" - not surprisingly, I could not do even one pullup or even one pushup, (I managed to do several squats though).

My question to all here is - Where does a motivated beginner go for a fitness program. I have thought of joining a gym, but my location and schedules will only allow a home based approach for now. Are there any good programs out there which one can subscribe to or purchase outright that will guide a greenhorn like me to do some good workouts at home. Any other advise about the above situation is also very welcome.

F5a8a14fc6a4d33c2563d0dd3066698a

(714)

on July 18, 2013
at 03:25 PM

I am in a similar state of fitness as you-- decent fitness from the solar plexus down, underwhelming in the upper body-- and have also been doing Sisson's regime for the last month or so. It isn't my favorite thing in the world, but it is totally doable, it scales, and it doesn't take up a ton of time. The only difference: Since I can't do pullups, either, I do reverse rows with 25# dumbbells for that muscle group. About time to move up to 35#, I think. Maybe in another couple months I'll be able to knock out a small handful of chinups ;-)

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on December 11, 2010
at 06:43 AM

Turbulence Training is a world famous fat loss and muscle building program by Craig Ballantyne. He is more about bodyweight exercises that can be done anywhere anytime. www.turbulencetraining.com/

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on December 11, 2010
at 03:27 AM

.. I am male - Thanks! Jae, and apologies, I should have mentioned this in my original question.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on December 10, 2010
at 10:02 PM

I'm with you except I would do strength training 2-4x/week, but otherwise this schedule is awesome!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 10, 2010
at 08:47 PM

Body by Science fits in well with Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint. Even though he recommends machines, you can do everything at home with dumbbells and/or bands. Dr. Kurt Harris also recommends Body by Science.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on December 10, 2010
at 07:31 PM

Is Resurgent female? Anyway, I think CrossFit is great if you find a great CF trainer (and IMO they are few and far between). Otherwise, go with Robb's book or Starting Strength.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on December 10, 2010
at 06:56 PM

Congratulations on your weight-loss!! That's awesome!

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on December 10, 2010
at 06:02 PM

Kettlebells fit his/her home approach. Stay close to the RKC style. Art of Strength is excellent also.

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on December 10, 2010
at 05:49 PM

CrossFit is intense, but it's also designed to be scaled to any skill level. Most of my gym is made up of ladies that are 40+.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on December 10, 2010
at 05:36 PM

Seconded. Also look into Kettlebells. Crossfit is very intense.

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on December 10, 2010
at 05:19 PM

@erin - Thanx, I shall look it up

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9 Answers

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6
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on December 10, 2010
at 07:14 PM

I suggest the following:

  • one day a week: SPRINTS for 10 minutes
  • one day a week: STRENGTH training (use Mark Sisson's Five Essential Movements)
  • one day a week: WALK, forty-five minutes to one-hour
  • one day a week: PLAY!

It's what I do! ...when I'm not moving boxes around my new apartment. ;)

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on December 10, 2010
at 10:02 PM

I'm with you except I would do strength training 2-4x/week, but otherwise this schedule is awesome!

3
8453c28aa8e2dc82d666c2952f36c5d2

(295)

on December 10, 2010
at 05:18 PM

Robb Wolf's book "The Paleo Solution" is a great read for anyone just starting the paleo/primal lifestyle and includes a chapter on fitness geared toward beginners. I can't recommend it enough.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on December 10, 2010
at 06:02 PM

Kettlebells fit his/her home approach. Stay close to the RKC style. Art of Strength is excellent also.

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on December 10, 2010
at 05:19 PM

@erin - Thanx, I shall look it up

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on December 10, 2010
at 05:49 PM

CrossFit is intense, but it's also designed to be scaled to any skill level. Most of my gym is made up of ladies that are 40+.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on December 10, 2010
at 05:36 PM

Seconded. Also look into Kettlebells. Crossfit is very intense.

2
D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af

on December 10, 2010
at 11:08 PM

Resurgent, have you downloaded Sisson's free primal fitness book? I think you have to subscribe to his newsletter to get the password. Yes, it's marketing, but it's also free! It uses bodyweight exercises geared to every ability level. Very doable and no special equipment needed.

I'm similar to you in that I was never very athletic--gym class was torture, being unable to do pull ups, climb the rope, ever, that sort of thing. I can't swim either. But I've always biked everywhere and I walk and hike a lot. I don't even consider that "working out" and it's fun. So my legs are strong, but not my upper body (save for the time I worked as baker--though all the bread and pastries I ate sort of counteracted the benefits of hefting 50# sacks of flour and 70# blocks of butter!). I do sprinting on my bike just by default. (Late for work, outrun yellow lights, keep up with traffic, etc.) Yeah, I play in traffic--probably not a beginner exercise...

Anyway, Mark's program has you work up to "actual" pushups and pullups--there are 9 levels for each exercise, with level 4 being the target. I don't have a pullup bar (and I'm not ready to walk over to the park and attempt pullups in public) so I googled "alternative exercises to pullups" and do a couple exercises with the 10# dumbbell I acquired somewhere. I have no trouble with squats, but I do wall pushups, modified presses, etc. As an overview, I'm at level 1 on pushups, roughly level 1 on pullups, level 4 on squat, level 1 on overhead press, and level 4 on plank. It only takes me half an hour to do two rounds of the basic exercises, and that's with a few extra upper body exercises with the dumbbell thrown in.

Personally, I hate gyms--bad memories of gym class, and boring, and requires some attention to fashion. And I'm not very good with schedules. But if you need the motivation of a specific program and other folks to work out with, I think that the advice here to check out Crossfit is a good one. Or find someone to do the primal workout with.

Oh yeah, and get a bike! You don't need to be all spandexed-out and a Lance Armstrong wannabe to be a cyclist! (Though I freely admit that where I live, riding in the winter kind of sucks.)

F5a8a14fc6a4d33c2563d0dd3066698a

(714)

on July 18, 2013
at 03:25 PM

I am in a similar state of fitness as you-- decent fitness from the solar plexus down, underwhelming in the upper body-- and have also been doing Sisson's regime for the last month or so. It isn't my favorite thing in the world, but it is totally doable, it scales, and it doesn't take up a ton of time. The only difference: Since I can't do pullups, either, I do reverse rows with 25# dumbbells for that muscle group. About time to move up to 35#, I think. Maybe in another couple months I'll be able to knock out a small handful of chinups ;-)

2
A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on December 10, 2010
at 05:25 PM

I advocate Crossfit or a HIIT (high intensity interval training) program. They're wonderful. There is a site: http://crossfitmom.com/ that is really great. It has beginner through advanced levels, updates every day, and can be scaled even more if needed. It's designed by ladies, for ladies :-) Good luck! And congrats on the weight loss!

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on December 11, 2010
at 03:27 AM

.. I am male - Thanks! Jae, and apologies, I should have mentioned this in my original question.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on December 10, 2010
at 07:31 PM

Is Resurgent female? Anyway, I think CrossFit is great if you find a great CF trainer (and IMO they are few and far between). Otherwise, go with Robb's book or Starting Strength.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 10, 2010
at 08:47 PM

Body by Science fits in well with Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint. Even though he recommends machines, you can do everything at home with dumbbells and/or bands. Dr. Kurt Harris also recommends Body by Science.

1
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on December 11, 2010
at 12:37 AM

Awesome job on the weight loss!

Body weight exercises are absolutely the way to go.

Keep trying the push ups! You'll get them. My sister could only do a 1/2 when she started. (Just from the floor up, but not down) You can also modify them by doing them off the wall or a table until you build up strength also.

As far as the pull ups go, if you have a bar or want to buy one you can use resistance bands to help you work up to a full pull up http://www.livestrong.com/article/256842-how-to-hang-resistance-bands-for-assisted-pull-ups/or this is a modified pull up from the P90X site. http://www.extremebodyworkout.com/blog/2008/07/10/how-to-modify-p90x-chin-up-bar-routines-with-resistance-bands/

A TRX system might also be an option. http://www.fitnessanywhere.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=SFNT&_kk=TRX&_kt=e2d11a8f-4c2e-4df6-aee3-f355319dc063&gclid=CJ7Hr9r64qUCFQNrKgodLmNn5A

It might do you some good to meet with a personal trainer just a couple times to go over the movements to make sure you have the form right.

Good luck!

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on December 11, 2010
at 06:43 AM

Turbulence Training is a world famous fat loss and muscle building program by Craig Ballantyne. He is more about bodyweight exercises that can be done anywhere anytime. www.turbulencetraining.com/

1
9e1dedf12f6ee75b7fe460960971fd21

(624)

on December 10, 2010
at 06:48 PM

Resurgent, you have a lot of options.

I would +1 the recommendation to try kettlebells. A reasonably light one can be a great way to start and develop overall conditioning. Just make sure to purchase a competition size bell (of the appropriately light weight; it is hollow as i understand). You do not want to go to Target and buy one of the solid, small cast iron bells that put concentrated pressure on your forearm, when the bell rests against your arm. A small bell will bruise your arm.

The crossfit mom's site looks great. If you are a guy, you may feel awkward following it, though, due to the name and who it is directed towards. (Just being honest).

Other than kettlebells, I think your best optino would be to join a gym and do weight machines (gasp!). 2x a week could be enough, initially. You can worry about doing barbell/freeweight work after gaining an initial level of strength, for the sake of safety. I would advise against trying to do barbell work at home, at this early stage of strength / knowledge.

1
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on December 10, 2010
at 06:25 PM

I would say pickup Rippetoe's Starting Strength. It's a good book to read although I would also recommend oce you are ready to start it that you get a trainer to guide you with the exercises. Most people do not perform squats and dead lifts properly, and most gym trainer dudes don't know the proper way either. But rip's book does a perfect job of getting one familiar with the five most basic, full body work, strength building exercises that have made strongmen strong since the beginning. Really, I can't recommend this book and program enough.

0
10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on December 11, 2010
at 07:28 AM

"STARTING" STRENGTH. Period

0
5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on December 11, 2010
at 04:22 AM

Try http://hundredpushups.com/. If you can't do them from the floor to begin with try working against a counter. Worked for me!

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