I've enjoyed this thread and thought I'd share my story.
My wife and I joined a local gym last month, me moreso for weights and her for yoga. I enjoy yoga as well, but most of the classes are during my work hours.
Included in the membership is a free consultation with a personal trainer. I met with one mainly to help me get started, i.e. to get advice on a fitness plan to lose weight - especially my carb-craving belly - and shape up in general. I typically am inactive: desk job, little to no regular exercise over the last few years. I am 6'4" and 245 pounds, which is the heaviest I have been. To follow-up on Ray and Peter's banter above, I guess I'm only a 1/4 horse
. Anyway, I was 175 as a senior in high school, 215 when I graduated from college. I spent my 20s in the 220s, my 30s in the 230s, and this disturbing trend had led to my 40s getting me to the 240s.
After taking some history from me and talking over my goals, he gave me three takehome points:
1. Always eat a good breakfast
2. Get plenty of water
3. Build muscle
OK, I think - this is not rocket science, and tell me something that I don't know, but I guess it was good to get the reminders.
The recommended workout: 5-10 minutes warmup on a treadmill or bike (I prefer the bike due to a propensity to shin splints), then three cycles of three exercises ("LEG/PUSH/PULL"), followed by an optional cooldown on the cycle for a few minutes.
These are on machines of the Nautilus/Cybex style. The exercises are, in the usual order:
To start, he suggested two sets of 15 reps for each exercise, starting at a low/comfortable weight and increasing the weight as needed to ensure I was getting towards that 100% effort on the last rep like MDrew was referring to. Once I get to the point that I'm not adding weight resistance, I am to lower the reps to 10-12 and increase the weight. Then try 8-10 reps with higher weight, and finally 6-8 reps. Always do at least 6 reps. At least every four to six weeks, alternate high reps/low reps.
Because I rotate through the exercises - eg one set of leg press, then one set of bench press, then one set of row, then the second sets of each to complete the first cycle - my heart rate stays up and I can complete the workout in 45 minutes.
I've completed two weeks of every-other day workouts, and I am already feeling better. I go before work. I don't have to get up that much earlier, since I've got my shower and prep routine down to a science, and it's easier to get ready when not dealing with the distractions of wife, child, and pets.
I am working out fasting, with breakfast thereafter. I'm going pretty low-carb for a couple of weeks (just short of full South Beach style) to accelerate the weight loss around the midsection. I'm down 6 pounds so far. I have successfully resisted a dozen donuts sitting two feet in front of me during a two-hour meeting. I can tell that I was eating way too much junk, and I am eating much less overall, and much more protein.
I'll keep you posted ...