I'm not sure of your fitness level, but just know that getting started is a good way to go.
You should be working out at a level that challenges you, but it doesn't have to feel like you are dying.
As far as the elliptical goes, start with as hard/long as you can go, with a minimum goal of 10 minutes. If you can do that easily, then just keep going!
Strength training is a must as well. There are some bodyweight exercises that are excellent so that you don't have to purchase weight equipment or join a gym. These are some that anyone can do, some are advanced.
Fitness Minutes: (71,096)
3,510 6/21/13 9:12 A
How about joining one of the Spark bootcamp challenges? Up top, go to Community then Challenge Central.
You will get a 28 day bootcamp workout program. You'll have to do an exercise video every day plus cardio on your own, which you can do on the elliptical. It's a great way to get started on exercising plus you have the support of your bootcamp team to cheer you on!
Fitness Minutes: (6,071)
130 6/21/13 7:42 A
There are three main components to any exercise plan: flexibility, cardio and strength. A well-rounded programme includes all three. Guidelines for general fitness are flexibility training 4-7 days a week, 3 20-minute sessions of vigorous cardio or 5 30-minute sessions of moderate cardio a week, and two full-body strength training sessions. These are a bare minimum, but quite enough to be getting on with for most beginners.
You can do things like yoga and pilates for the flexibility, but really the easiest way to get started is just to do basic stretches for 15-30 seconds (try these videos: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/videos -detail.asp?video=93 and http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/videos -detail.asp?video=91) AFTER you've done a cardio or ST session, when your muscles are warm. DON'T do static stretching after or as part of a warm up, though dynamic stretching (arm circles, single leg raises, etc.) is OK. If you are interested in yoga, I highly recommend doyogawithme.com as a starting point or supplement, though the importance of classes with a live teacher who can correct your form cannot be overemphasised.
On to cardio. I have no idea whether the elliptical counts as moderate or vigorous activity, so use the talk test or your heart rate to figure it out. For cardio to count as vigorous, you shouldn't be able to say more than a few words before you have to catch your breath. To count as moderate, you should be able to talk, but not sing (or carry on a conversation but not make a speech). You can also try adding intervals, so you do, for instance, 4 minutes at a moderate intensity and 1 minute at a high intensity. Try to vary your workouts, to alleviate boredom and continually challenge your body. There are 10-minute cardio videos on this site, or you could simply go outside and walk (but make sure it's brisk, not a leisurely stroll).
The third component is strength training. You should do at least two full-body workouts a week, and do more if you split up your workouts. SP has a wide range of strength videos (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/video s-category.asp?category=3). As with cardio, try not to do the same thing too often. A full-body strength training workout should take around 30 minutes to complete, or 10 minutes for upper body/core/lower body. You should never train the same muscles two days in a row, as they need AT LEAST 48 hours to repair after training, and that's what makes them stronger.
Make sure you train all your major muscle groups, not just the vanity ones. And don't neglect strength training because you're trying to lose weight. Muscle boosts your metabolism, aiding your weight loss efforts, and strength training ensures that you maintain muscle mass (and bone density!) as you lose fat, rather than losing muscle and bone in addition to fat.
It's also best for beginners to not do cardio and strength in the same session so you're not tiring yourself out. You can do strength in the morning and cardio in the evening, or vice versa, or do them on separate days. That said, while I personally couldn't do a full-body ST session and then go for a jog, I can do 10 minutes of ST and a half-hour walk in the same session.
As I see it, there are a few ways you can schedule your workout.
If the elliptical qualifies as moderate activity, you can do six days a week of 30 minutes of elliptical work combined with a 10-minute ST session, rotating between upper body, core and lower body, followed by a rest day. If you'd prefer to do your cardio and ST on separate days, then you may find you have a problem with only seven days in the week. If you don't mind not following the same schedule every week, you can do 2 days cardio, 1 ST, 2 cardio, 1 ST, 1 cardio, rest, and repeat, so that each week you're shifted forward a day. That would annoy a lot of people (myself included) and may be harder to work round schedules, though, so an alternative is to do the same as the above without a rest day. Generally speaking, you shouldn't skimp on rest days; if your cardio is moderate and low-impact (like the elliptical), however, you may not need a rest day in the same way that, say, a runner does.
If the elliptical counts as vigorous, then try something like this:
Fitness Minutes: (0)
1 6/21/13 7:06 A
Hello, So I am starting a weight loss journey that I hope will benefit me for the rest of my life. I want to start working out on a regular basis, but don't know where to start. My whole body needs to be exercised and toned. And there only seems to be exercises that focus on one thing. I really need help figuring out where to start and what to work out when. I do own a elliptical machine, but don't know how often to use it or how long. If someone has been in my place before and has a great workout plan please help! I would really appreciate it!
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