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Criteria, Video Picks, & more...

video routine

Are you a do-it-yourself-er? Someone who'd rather exercise at home with workout videos rather than make the trip to the gym? In this case, choosing the right videos for a convenient workout program is paramount.
Why? Simple: The more time-effiencient your workout routine, the higher your chances of sticking with it, and therefore, the higher your chances of success.

Choosing Workout Videos
Here are my criteria:

  • If the goal is weight loss, I prefer combined cardio/strength training videos (circuit training programs), between 30 and 60 minutes in length. Anything less than that would probably be insufficient to trigger active weight loss. Anything more than that is overkill, and also increases your risk of injury.

  • If the goal is weight maintenance, I prefer strength training routines, between 10-30 minutes in length. I especially like short routines targeting specific muscle groups (e.g., upper body, lower body, or abdominals). These routines can be performed in sequence on different days of the week, and constitute a time-saving way of getting a total body workout on a weekly basis.
    In my own experience, I found a that a strength training routine of moderate intensity coupled with a sensible diet is sufficient for weight maintenance. Aerobic (cardio) workouts can be added as necessary, especially during periods of dietary overindulgence. If adding aerobics to your workout program, keep in mind that aerobic workouts need to be at least 20 minutes long in order to be effective.

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  • Regarding the active weight loss phase, another regimen you can use (other than circuit training) is the following: Short strength training routines performed several times a week, plus longer aerobic workouts performed at least twice a week. For example: You can do short strength training routines 3 days a week, 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening (a total of 20 minutes a day), and a longer aerobic or combined strength/aerobic routine 2 days a week (40-60 minutes a day).

  • The difficulty level of a workout must always be in your comfort zone. I.e., if you're new to exercise, do not choose advanced workout videos. This only increases your risk of injury and sets you up for failure. The difficulty level of the each workout video is often advertised on the cover as 'light'/'beginner', 'intermediate', or 'advanced'. Switch to a more strenuous exercise level only when you feel comfortable with the previous level and want additional challenge during your workout.

  • Aerobic workouts should be fun, but also as straightforward as possible. I find that complicated dance steps often take too long to master, and therefore decrease the efficiency of a workout.

  • Ideally, strength training workouts should require as little equipment as possible: Basic items include a set of dumbbells (a pair of 3-pound, 5-pound, and 8-pound weights for women, or a pair of 5-pound, 8-pound, 10-pound and possibly 12-pound weights for men). Additionally, a pair of adjustable ankle weights can be helpful for working the leg muscles. All of the above can be purchased at any sports store or Wal-Mart, and are reasonably inexpensive.
    Avoid, at least in the beginning, workouts requiring more equipment. As you become more familiar with strength training, you can make informed decisions about purchasing supplemental items.

  • Cost-wise, I find older workout videos to be a better deal, since they often come at a discount price. And, compared to newer videos, the workouts are usually just as effective.

Video Picks
Here are a few workout videos I used with good results:

  1. Combined Cardio/Strength Training Videos:
    • Minna Lessig's Fat Eliminator (30 minute circuit training, cardio with muscle toning
      segments, intermediate difficulty level. Please note: This video includes some high impact cardio segments which may be somewhat demanding on the joints.
    • The Firm Total Body Series (includes 5 aerobic/weight training tapes, each one about 60 minutes in length, coached by different instructors, intermediate to advanced difficulty level.)
    • Billy Blanks' Tae Bo Series (includes multiple fast paced martial arts tapes, from beginner level all the way to advanced, including workouts for seniors. Workout times range from 8 minutes to just under 1 hour. The intermediate and advanced workouts require good flexibility, and are somewhat demanding on the hips and knees.
    • Mari Winsor's Winsor Pilates Series (includes tapes such as Advanced Body Slimming, which makes you break a sweat while toning and fine-tuning various muscle groups - workout time 21 minutes, intermediate to advanced difficulty level).

  2. Strength Training Videos:
    • Minna Lessig's Strength and Grace (intermediate difficulty level)
    • The Firm - Firm Parts Series: Includes videos such as:
      • '5-Day Abs' and 'More 5-Day Abs' - each containing 5 short abdominal routines coached by different instructors, workout time 5-9 minutes per routine, intermediate to advanced difficulty level
      • Upper Body - a 30 minute workout plus 10-minute warm-up and cool-down, coached by multiple instructors, intermediate to advanced difficulty level
      • Lower Body Sculpting - a 20 minute workout plus 10 minute warm-up and cool-down, contains mostly floor work with leg weights, intermediate to advanced difficulty level.)
    • Mari Winsor's Winsor Pilates Series: Includes tapes such as:
      • Accelerated Body Sculpting - workout time 57 minutes, intermediate difficulty level
      • Bun and Thigh Sculpting - workout time 22 minutes, intermediate difficulty level
    • Donna Richardson's 4 Day Rotation Workout: Includes 4 muscle toning workouts targeting the upper body, abs, buttocks, and hips/thighs, workout time 15 minutes each, intermediate difficulty level
    • Trish Muse's Ab Attack: Includes two 30 minutes workouts targeting the abdominal muscles and back muscles, intermediate difficulty level. A couple of moves are done while kneeling on the floor and may put undue strain on the knees. These moves can be skipped without detracting from the overall effectiveness of the workout.
    • Keli Roberts' Abs & More: Includes 4 midsection workouts of progressively increasing difficulty, 6-12 minutes in length, step bench required
    • Tamilee Webb's I Want Those... Series: Includes intermediate difficulty tapes such as:
      • I Want Those Abs
      • I Want Those Buns
      • I Want That Body
    • Denise Austin's Get Fit Fast / Arms & Shoulders: Includes 3 upper body workouts of progressively increasing difficulty; workout time 10-15 minutes each

Follow this link to see more workout videos.

Note: It is prudent to consult with your doctor prior to starting an exercise program, especially if you are new to exercise, suffer from any medical conditions, or are a woman over the age of 50 or a man over the age of 40.


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