Want to tone up, gain strength or lose weight but have no clue what exercise to do or how much to do? This article will help break it down to basics.

If you want to lose weight you need to move more. I know duh. But how much more? Well that depends on how much you want to lose. 1 lb = 3,500 calories, so if you increase your activity to burn 500 calories a day x 7 days, you will lose 1 lb a week.

But, doing that much cardio in a week is a lot which is why I recommend you combining in with decreasing your calorie intake.

Here is what I suggest:

To Lose Weight

How hard should you work? I like to use two ways to measure how hard I work.One is heart rate and the other is RPE (rate of perceived exertion) or the Talk Test.Cardio/Aerobic – start with 2-3 days of cardio for 20-30 min each session. Increase that amount each week by 10% so that afer 4-5 weeks you are up to 4-5 days of 30-45 min of cardio.

Heart rate should be 60-70% of your maximum and your maximum is about 220 minus your age. The average 35 year old will be somewhere between 135-160 beats per min. You can use your pulse to measure while exercising.

RPE or Talk Test. Think on a scale of 1-10. 1 being able to talk with no problem. 10 is working out so hard you are not able to talk. You want to work your way up to be somewhere between 6-8 at the height of your workout.

Strength Work – Because muscle burns more calories than fat, you will want to tone up to fuel the furnace. Aim for 1-2 days a week of strength training, about 30 min a session

What should you do? To lose weight, doing an all over body workout to tone the muscles would be ideal. Find one exercise from the FitKit Exercise Library for each of these body parts – Biceps, Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Back, Hamstrings, Quads, Glutes, Core. If you cant do them all at once, split them up to do a few each day.

To Gain Weight or Build Strength

Cardio/Aerobic – start with 1-2 days of cardio for 20-30 min each session. Increase that amount each week by 10% so that after 4-5 weeks you are up to 2-3 days of 30-45 min of cardio.

How hard should you work? I like to use two ways to measure how hard I work. One is heart rate and the other is RPE (rate of perceived exertion) or the Talk Test.

Heart rate should be 60-70% of your maximum and your maximum is about 220 minus your age. The average 35 year old will be somewhere between 135-160 beats per min. You can use your pulse to measure while exercising.

RPE or Talk Test. Think on a scale of 1-10. 1 being able to talk with no problem. 10 is working out so hard you are not able to talk. You want to work your way up to be somewhere between 6-8 at the height of your workout.

Strength Work – Work your way up to 4-5 days a week of strength training, about 30 min to an hour a session.

What should you do? To gain strength and build size, you will want to work your muscles to failure on most days. So find a weight that you can successfully do 8-10 reps without losing your form. Vary your muscle groups by pairing opposing muscles (biceps/triceps, Quads/hamstrings) or splitting upper and lower body. Just be sure to allow your muscles to recover before working them out again. Make sure you strength train all body parts: Biceps, Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Back, Hamstrings, Quads,Glutes and Core. You can find exercise ideas in the FitKit Exercise Library. 

Workouts to Consider

Sometimes trying new workouts not only can spark a new interest but will often times work the body in a different way, targeting muscles you never know you had!

  • Walking on a treadmill not only is a low impact workout but also works the glutes to build muscle. Start on a 3% incline and work your way up to 15%
  • Find a gym or studio near you that offers pilates, spin, boxing or yoga. Often timesGroupon or Living Social offers great intro deals.
  • When was the last time you swam? Swimming is great for both strength and cardio!
  • If you get bored on the treadmill or bike for 30-45 min try mixing it up – 10 min on the treadmill, 10 on the bike and 10 on the elliptical.
  • HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a great time saving workout.
  • Find an accountability partner to help keep you honest and on track.
  • Join a local running club, softball, volleyball or soccer league.
  • Buy some workout DVDs. You can get some great ones for Yoga, Bootcamp, Pilates and even dance!

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