I'm currently assisting my dad in losing a significant amount of weight. He's 60, 6'0", weighs 230lbs (104kg) and eats very healthily, maintaining a well balanced diet. The trouble is he doesn't exercise at all, but he has recently decided he wants to cut body fat, which is a big problem for him, and reach a goal weight of around 204-208lbs. I see a lot of similar questions about this sort of thing on the site, but none of them are very suited to his situation. He has some trouble supporting his weight on his wrists, so things like push-ups, burpees etc aren't really an option until he loses weight. Another thing I was worried about is that his family has a very slight history of heart problems, so I don't want him to have excess fat building up around his heart anyway. I was interested in finding him a cardio/circuits program that would help his lose weight quickly (his main motivation is his wedding anniversary holiday in 5 weeks time) and to reduce his overall body fat content. A lot of it is centred around his waist, with a stereotypical 'beer belly', but I fully understand there isn't a way to target that specifically. Any help would be appreciated. I'm a rower, so I train everyday, so motivating him to come with me isn't a problem.
I think this is a case where some strength work on the machines can help your dad build up enough basic strength to support his weight to the point where he can do push-ups. The thing is he is going to have to start a bit slower and build up momentum from there. 60 isn't that old, but if he's completely detrained he will likely fatigue pretty quickly. For the goal of dropping about 25 lbs / 10-12 kg you're going to have the best bet to attack it on multiple fronts:
- Diet. Eating healthy is the first part of the battle, but he needs to eat less if he wants to weigh less. Losing 1 lb / 0.5 kg a week would be a good pace.
- Conditioning. A humble start like walking 20-30 minutes a day would be a very good start.
- Strength Training. Since he's unable to do a lot of body-weight exercises at the moment, this is a good application of using the machines for lighter-than-body-weight work. This will also help improve his overall quality of life when he can get up and down at will without having to think about it.
The goal here isn't making an athlete, but helping him move more and move better. We also don't know how well he is going to adapt to exercise, or if he has any heart problems lingering. The way I'd have him progress would be:
- Start diet and walking immediately
- After a couple weeks, if he deals well with the walking, add in some light strength work.
- Over the next few weeks, if he can hit body weight loads he can start body-weight training
The light strength training should have the following components:
- Squat movement. Start with the leg press doing 3 sets of 5 reps and adding 5 lbs every time until he can leg press his body weight. After that he can progress to body-weight squats.
- Pull or hip/hinge movement. These can be Romanian deadlifts with an empty bar, kettlebell swings, or back extensions (body weight)
- Press movement. Start with the incline press machine, and use the same approach as the squat movement until he can press 70% of his body weight for a set of 5. That's roughly what would be needed to support push ups.
Once he can do the body weight movements, work on increasing reps with them and adding some variety to them. He will be pretty fit if he can hit 50 body weight squats, 30 push ups, and 50 back extensions all in the same day (with multiple sets). He'll also be able to move around pretty well.