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My exercise routine and BFL verbal vomit

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Q. I want to start BFL, can you give me any info?

I have had a LOT of friends start BFL recently (or their own customized version there of). Since they've had similar questions, I went ahead and generated this to serve as a primer. This is a LONG post, so don't feel like you have to read it in one go - take what you need and save the rest for later. :-) Also, this is in NO WAY a substitute for reading the BFL and EFL books; just my attempt to try and make it more approachable for people flirting with starting BFL and curious how I make it work for me. :-)

Basic Plan:
I weight train 3x a week (For me - M, W & F)
And do High Intensity Interval Training (cardio) 3x a week (Sun, T, Th)
On the last day I do NO exercise and eat what the heck I want. For me, that's usually a weekend day. C1 was Sunday, C2 I had Saturday as my free day.
Options - Hussman recommends for optimum fat burning, add 20 minutes of comfortable cardio to the end of your weight training days, and your free day. This means no hard exertion, just in the groove where you can go all day; and do it AFTER your weight training so you don't impair the work you're doing with the weights.

I track what I do for weights - BFL provides a convenient form that you can use - either PDF or Excel - the Excel one is great because it's one big honking workbook that you can use. http://www.bodyforlife.com/downloads.shtml

Weight Training:
There are a ton of places to learn new exercises from, I just included two to start with:
http://www.bodyforlife.com/train_women.shtml
http://www.exrx.net/Exercise.html
Best things to use are free weights, because they work the most muscles; but they can also be the most intimidating if you aren't sure how to use them. Use whatever works for you and you're comfortable with.
If you can't make that last leap of weight - although we're supposed to go up in weight each time we reduce the number of reps, sometimes you can't. It's ok to just do the last set at the lower weight. If you can do a couple extra at the lower weight, do that, and maybe next time you can leap to the larger weight for that set.
How do I know I've hit my max - If you think you could physically do a few more reps at that heavy weight, you aren't pushing it hard enough. Now, that doesn't mean up the weight and loose form. If you are loosing form, drop the weight and push for good form through the exercise
Exercise is both concentric and eccentric - this means that you don't just DROP the weight from the hard position. Count to at least a slow two on both the up and the down motion. Visualize that muscle working, and the form as really good. It sounds corny, but it really does improve what you can do.
Changing it up - Your body will learn how to adapt to the exercises you've chosen. According to a primary bodybuilding site, the way to keep growing the muscle (not like Arnie; but just in a good way) is to change up the routine of weights you use every 4 weeks. That's just long enough for you to see improvements in the weights you're lifting, but not long enough for your muscles to get lazy.

HIIT / Cardio:
The idea of this is that you are consistently increasing levels of difficulty; but never ending up gasping. Since I find that if I do the same cardio all the time, not only do I get bored, my muscles outpace my lungs I switch between 3 types of exercise:
Running - this can be on a treadmill our outside
Elliptical Trainer
Bike - stationary or not
My NEW thing is a jump rope. If you think you've got lung power, try and jump rope for 20 minutes straight. It taught me a whole new level of humility this weekend. *g*

HIIT Intensity Management (to go up and down the levels):
Types of cardio - if you're on treadmill all the time, try elliptical, bike or rowing machines
Resistance - Most of the above machines allow you to change what you are pulling or pushing against (like incline, or effort settings if available)
Measured Speed - When I do the treadmill, I have a personal 'rule' that a step up must be at least .5 miles per hour faster than the previous step (means I really have to work for it)
Focus of attention - This is something all athletes seem to learn at some point...consciously or unconsciously. You need something you can focus on to the exclusion of what you're doing - so you aren't literally counting down seconds. I put on the best loud fast music I can find (either real or just imagine your fav song in your head) and focus on that to the exclusion of other things, I can push myself further and faster. It's all about that positive thinking. If you're caught up in the beat; you don't sabotage your self by thinking how soon you can stop or how good stopping will feel.

Remember that you don't need to do them in isolation either - you can say that for each step up the intensity scale you will increase the resistance by one increment and the speed by an different increment. I like to do that on the bike and elliptical - so to go from a 6 to a 7 I increase the speed by a nice round number and push the resistance up at least one. One of my favourite tricks on myself is to push the resistance up 2 levels and the speed up 2 levels to get my 10 - that way I know I can increase my base speed the next week. :-)

Food:
I eat 6 small meals a day, and if you want to target calories, it's around 1400 calories a day for me (since I'll be burning between 2200 and 2500 - and I don't want my body to think it's in starvation mode.)

If you want to count calories - the best site to use to track what you're eating is http://www.fitday.com
If you want to know how many calories you should be intaking - try: http://www.hussman.org/fitness/bmrcalc.htm

Food Tips (How to survive making and eating 6 meals a day):
Protein Powders I prefer:
Designer Whey (I've used both Vanilla and Strawberry) - I use this for shakes or some of the desserts in the EFL book
Any Whey Protein powder - This is a "tasteless" protein powder that is GREAT for cooking with.

How to have variety in your shakes:
Add fruit - Frozen is better because it's got more nutrients
Use any flavour of the Sugar Free pudding powders - 1 teaspoon
Depending on how hungry - I vary the amount of skim milk I use to make the shake. If I'm really hungry, it's 1 full cup skim milk; protein powder, pudding powder and an ice cube. If I'm less hungry, water down the milk so it's only 1/2 cup skim milk; 1/2 cup water, etc.
Use Extracts - like Almond Extract, etc - same idea as the sugar free pudding powder - you only need a little of this though, because extracts are strong stuff!

Meal Suggestions:
I use Detour Bars a lot - I use 1/2 bar as a mid meal.
EFL has a carrot cake muffin recipe - I use it as a base, and add fruit instead of carrots and up the protein with the tasteless protein powder.
I LOVE Tom Kha soup (it's Thai if you don't recognize it) - So I get a full bowl, and the left overs form 2 meals I can have when ever - to get the right balance, I add protein powder to the left overs and then freeze till the day I want them.
The EFL Pancakes - they're SO easy to make and modify with flavours (and supplement with additional protein powder) and I like to make a batch of them, and put them in my Tupperware and freeze.
Protein is the hard thing for me to keep my hands on, and cottage cheese and tuna don't seem to keep well during the day (if you don't have a fridge). One of my tricks is to get a big dead animal (beef, chicken, etc); marinate it, grill it and then slice it down to small pieces, place in Tupperware and freeze. Another good protein source is the Morning Star Farms Breakfast patties - they're sausage patties for vegetarians, but they're surprisingly good.

Where to Buy:
Most of the pre-packaged stuff is cheaper on the internet (bars, shakes, powder, etc) - the thing to be careful of is the shipping costs.
Things to know - GNC has a free to get card that if you use it during the first week of the month gives you 10% off whatever the prices is.
There's this great independent GNC store where I live that - the owner honours your GNC card ALL the time and she's great to work with.

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