I am Quasar, a newbie here! I am 5' 6 (167 cm) and weigh 81 kgs(178 lbs), 32 years of age. Over the last 8 months, I enrolled for a bachelors course in an open university, for which I had to do some rigorous study alongside my full-time job, and I have put on about 8-9 kgs(20 lbs).

I have begun exercising this month. My current exercise routine includes a brisk jog of 3 kilometers each day followed by 10 km of leisure cycling.

I would like to build core strength, better physical endurance, shed the extra weight, tone the body - improve my overall appearance and shape, but healthily. I want to be consistent at exercising and sustain it.

Firstly, would adding more cycling(with a greater slope) for example 30 km/day, and running/sprinting to the routine help? Does it cause too much muscle burn? Is burning 800-1000 calories through cardio healthy?

Second, I have never done strength training my whole life. Could you suggest extremely basic exercises to start off with?

Thanks a tonne friends! - Quasar

  • A good outcome would be less fat and just maintain muscles. – Quasar Sep 14 at 16:00
  • 1
    Any exercise routine (Well, almost any) is going to be healthier than sitting around slowly composting. :) Congratulations on starting, and welcome to the site! – JohnP Sep 14 at 16:06
up vote 3 down vote accepted

This article on core exercises is very good: The best core exercises

Some basic strength exercises I would suggest you do is:

  • bodyweight squats
  • push ups
  • inclined pull ups

Push ups are similar to the plank in that they use the back. Don't do full sets of both at the same day or you may overexert your back.

You should only train each muscle 2 or 3 times a week.

I suggest you focus at least as much on strength as on cardio. The extra musclemass will burn calories even when you are not doing anything.

The effort to learn the basic barbell lifts: squat, deadlift, overhead press and benchpress is a good investment. Ideally you should get help from a personal trainer or someone in a powerlifter club. If this is not possible there are many good videos out on the web, but be careful so you do not hurt yourself. Start with low weight and post videos of yourself on forums such as Starting Strength forum to get feedback on your form. Check out Starting Strength and Stronglifts. These are two very similar popular strength programs.

If you start doing strength exercise: cut back on the jogging/cycling. Don't do both on the same day. Also after a while start doing intervals by running fast up small hils etc as as a part of your jogging, this is good for the heart and your aerobic capacity.

There are a few different components to living a healthy lifestyle, and getting fitter and more lean.

The number one consideration is going to be diet. You don't run a Formula 1 racer on 85 octane, by the same token, you are going to be limiting your success and potential if your diet is not optimal. That doesn't mean by tomorrow you have to be eating pure, but I would strive to have at least 80% of your diet be clean, healthy eating. Fish couple times a week, lean meats, unprocessed carbs, lots of fruits, veggies and nuts. This will help reduce your bodyfat, as well as help you feel better overall.

For basic lifting, I would recommend a program such as Starting Strength or Stronglifts 5x5. I am partial to the Stronglifts program, as I think it presents a good, basic routine of progressive load for the most common compound lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press, etc).

You can also certainly start increasing your cycling, but I would either do one or the other. Don't start strength training and increase your cycling. That is asking for too much stress all at one time.

As far as your question about burning calories, yes, you can certainly burn 800-1000 calories in cardio quite healthily. There are people doing endurance training that go through up to 4x that in a session of heavy cycling/running. As long as you are eating to replace, you are fine. I would make sure that you are eating enough protein (see this question/answer, it's not as much as you might think) to accommodate the lifting, Initially I would keep a food log to track what/when you eat, as it is very easy to consume extra calories without realizing it. While 3500 calories is a bit of a myth, aim for 200-400 calorie deficit on average per day and you will eventually lose weight.

Once you get into the whole training routine (6 months to 2 years), then you can start thinking about what you want to do for training for the rest of your life. I would try a bunch of different things and figure out what you really enjoy, because if you hate being in a gym, you won't stick with it.

81 kg weight for 167 cm is high. More Running and cycling creates pressure on legs. Better to follow all body exercise to loose weight. Mostly body fat increases on tummy, extra chin, thighs.

Fast Sun salutation (21 rounds at least) in daily routine will surely reduce the weight within 1 month. Body will become in shape. It will generate enthusiasm and it will surely reduce the sleep also. I mean, within very less timing it will give you excellent slip. Follow it and tell again.

Quasar. Your routine isn’t unhealthy, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t help you reach your goals.

“Would adding more cycling... and running/sprinting to the routine help?” - Probably not, and the main problem here is the word “more”. Cycling, running, and sprinting are good cardio exercises, but it sounds like you’re already doing too much (or deviating from your goals at the very least). Burning 800-1000 calories a day in a single exercise is overkill. If your goal was to build up to doing a marathon, that would be different, but your goal seems to be getting in shape instead. Burning something like 500 calories for a cardio session is plenty to reap the benefits from it, and another consideration would be to incorporate 15-30 minute HIIT sessions in where you give maximum effort in a relatively short period of time. Jogging and cycling is still fine, but having a more diverse training routine will lead to a more balanced body.

“Second, I have never done strength training my whole life. Could you suggest extremely basic exercises to start off with?” - I feel like this question is misguided. While there are certainly exercises that involve intermediate-advanced level movement patterns, most things you encounter will have relatively simple movement patterns. Even advanced lifters are using basic exercises to build muscle and stay in shape. Your strength training experience shouldn’t effect what kinds of exercises you perform. Instead, your current physical strength (at any given time) should indicate an appropriate level of resistance for your muscles (in general how much you lift). Doing any exercise in proper form is very important too, if you can only go up to 5lbs while maintaining proper form, then that’s all you should do - 5lbs in good form is better than 10lbs in bad form. Never ego lift.

"How do I improve core strength?" - Like any other muscle group, resistance training will improve strength, endurance, and size. Some exercises are more useful than others, and this video looks at which ab exercises are known to best activate the abdominal region. The linked exercises are the weighted crunch, ab roll out, vertical leg crunch, stability ball crunch, knee raise, and bicycle crunch. While these alone can give you a decent amount of variety, I wouldn't consider them as the only ab exercises you should be doing. This video looks at the various functions of the abdominal area along with suggestions on how to train them.

What then would I suggest? First is understanding this; Your activities will determine your shape, while your nutrition will determine your size. So if your activities are that of a couch potato, then your shape will adapt to that of a couch potato, and your nutrition will determine if you are a big or small couch potato. Likewise, if you activities are that of an athlete, then your shape will adapt to that of an athlete, and your nutrition will determine if you are a big or small athlete.

Once you understand that, I would suggest finding a fitness program that was put together by someone who knows what they are doing. StrongLifts 5x5 program is a VERY simple free option, and AthleanX has several programs available for purchase depending on your goals and fitness level/experience (they also have a plethora of free informative videos on YouTube). Following a competent program will make a world of difference compared to making things up based on a limited understanding.

On the nutrition side of things, you’ll want to pay attention to your “TDEE” (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) which is how many calories your body consumes each day (to maintain itself) given all your activities. If you are looking to lose weight, subtract 10-20% off the top of your TDEE and eat that amount daily. Protein is very important, and you’ll want to aim for eating 1.5-2x your kg body weight in grams of protein so right now you should aim for 121-162 grams of protein for optimal benefits (spread throughout the day, ideally from multiple souces). Eating (approximately) the right amount of calories and protein will be enough to keep you on the right track, most other things (timing, macros) are just preferences.

One last note. It’s important to keep your expectations in check. Losing between 0.5-1% of your total body weight each week is a good steady pace, but fluctuations will inevitably happen. Muscle growth can make this seem even slower, but don’t expect muscle growth to be the singular cause of weight gain because muscle growth is a very slow process. You might notice a difference in your physique after a month (if you take good progress photos), but don’t be discouraged if it’s hard to see. After two or three months progress should be notable. Just be consistent and do what you should and you’ll surpass your goals. Good luck!

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