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Okay, I just joined the Y. Great place, they babysit my 2 year old son for two hours a day (this is the max babysitting time allowed for memebers). I am a single mom who works full time. I try to go to the gym two hours a day five days a week, with 1.5 hours devoted to excercise, .5 hours for shower/cleanup afterwards. I started last week, right now I am thinking this schedule: afterwork Mon and Tuesday, Weds off, afterwork Thurs, Fri, on Saturday, sunday off. Babysitting isn't open on Sunday anyway.
I do some weight lifting, and so far .5 hours of arrobics (elliptical). I am thinking of upping the arrobics part up to 45 min per day. I want to loose about 40lbs +/-, and I want to tone up for hiking. I want to take a vacation to the mountains and do some strenuous hiking carrying my 30lb son next summer.
Okay, so if I only have 20 minutes to weight lift, what should I concentrate on? I was thinking of alternating leg/arm days. Mon: arms, Tues: legs, etc. What machines are the best? I use the Nautica type machines, I don't go into the weightroom with all the sweaty smelly men who stare blankly at the fat woman in their domain... I was doing the ab machine, leg press, arm press, etc. How many reps should I do, and how many round of reps for each machine? How do I know what the right amount of weight is?
And for the arobics part? What machine is best, elliptical, or treadmill? When I excercise, if I keep my heartrate at the recommended 160 for my age, I don't feel like I am getting a good excercise, but when I do 170BPM, I feel like I am really working out and get out of breath. Saturday I did the elliptical for 35 min, kept my BPM at about 170, and felt pretty good, winded, tired, sweaty, but good. (I am 33 years old, 5'6", 177lbs).
Also, how accurate are those calorie counters on the machines? Any advice would be great!
You need to buy (or check out from the library) New Rules of Lifting for Women. Get away from the machines and get into the weight room if you want to get stronger. Ignore the men in there if they give you attitude.
As for the elliptical versus treadmill, I think it just depends on what works best for you. The calorie counters on the treadmills are probably not very accurate--an estimate at best (then again, everything calorie-involved is). You should look into HIIT for your cardio sessions. It would fit perfectly into the amount of time you have.
Edit: You should use enough weight that you can only do 8-15 reps per set (I'm in the first stage of NROLFW and am doing 12 reps per set). How much weight that is depends on the type of exercise and you. You'll have to do trial-and-error to figure it out.
I concur with bieroama 100%. It's tough to lose weight with mostly cardio for many reasons, including it's boring as crap and you just get tired of doing it after a while. You will burn as many or more calories lifting weights, build strength, improve posture and appearance and burn fat without losing muscle, as you would with a lot of intense cardio.