Weightlifting & Exercise/Getting fit


Hi Joe,

I'm determined to get fit but I'm not sure how to start. I am an out of shape person in the sense that I am not physically strong in many ways. I'm concerned because both sides of my family are at risk for cholestrol, diabetes and (sometimes) obesity.

While I do pay heed as much as I can to what I eat and although thankfully I am not overweight I would still like to feel physically strong and in shape. I like my body but would love to tone it, as opposed to losing weight or building muscle like body-builders.

Is there a workout plan or exercises I can follow that will help me build my strength and stamina?

Thank you :)

Grand Rapids Personal Trainer
Grand Rapids Personal  
Thanks for your question, Cindy.

"tone" and "build strength and stamina" are incredibly vague terms (ex: one woman's 'tone' is another woman's 'fat' - and vice versa), and without knowing more specifics of your personal goals, current habits/abilities, experience, obstacles (perceived or real), available resources/equipment, etc., I'll have to be equally vague in my response.

1) as a general rule of thumb, accumulating 5 hours of 'intentional exercise' a week is a good place to start.

2) if #1 (above) isn't moving you in the direction you want to go, you have 2 options: train MORE - or - train HARDER. (ideally, you'll do both... just not at the same time. look up the term "periodization" for ideas how to structure your training plan so you can cycle through higher volume phases as well as higher intensity ones.

3) there is no 'magic' exercise that will 'tone' - think of fitness as a cumulative effect of ALL that you do.

4) COMPOUND exercises (movements that move more than one joint. ex: squat) will typically allow you to use a greater load/expend more energy than a simple, single joint (ex: bicep curl) movement in the same amount of time.

5) if you don't want to think/learn more than necessary and want a plan that's already laid out for you, check out the books "New Rules of Lifting for Women" (Lou Schuler/Alwyn Cosgrove) and "The Female Body Breakthrough" (Rachel Cosgrove).

6) If you'd like even more personalized guidance/coaching, I encourage you to take a free 2-week "behind the scenes tour" of my own coaching systems at www.GrandRapidsPersonalTrainer.com The concepts, tools and over-all approach should help clarify some of the concepts mentioned above.

7) Finally, the acronym PROM DATE is a simple guide that answers (at least partially) virtually any exercise-related question. It stands for Painless Range Of Motion Demonstrating Acceptable TEchnique. Or more simply still... if it hurts (beyond normal discomforts that go along with "effort"), don't do that!

Train like ya' mean it!  

Weightlifting & Exercise

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Joe Stankowski


Fitness for People Who Hate Exercise; Weight loss and maintenance (aka: Waist Management); Sport/Exercise Nutrition Strategies; Powerlifting; Advanced Training Program Design; Home-based exercise


When people ask "what do you do?", I often reply, "I'm in the fitness business". Once I was asked if that means I fix treadmills. While I actually have adjusted a few treadmills for my personal training clients, I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I'm more of a practitioner/educator/presenter/writer/coach than a "repairman". I've been called many things (some not suitable for print!) including the "MacGuyver of the Fitness Industry" because of the way I'm able to recognize whatever resources we have available (however limited they may be) and find a way to make 'em work for your fitness goals.

ACE Certified News - American Fitness - CN8 - Delaware News Journal - Delaware Today - Experience Life - Fitness Truth Radio - Fox17 (WXMI, Grand Rapids, MI) - Health Fitness Broadcast - IDEA Personal Trainer - IDEA Fitness Journal - Living.Well - MealPlans101 - Menís Fitness - MensLifeToday.com - Muscle & Fitness Hers - Physique Smart - Post Weekend (UK) - Sly - Strength Radio - WHYY-TV - Womenís Health - Wood Radio 1300 - World Talk Radio - Visions Today

ACE-cpt, NASM-cpt, Precision Nutrition Level 1 and Level 2 "SuperCoach"

Awards and Honors
IDEA Master Fitness Trainer; advisory board member for Menís Fitness magazine; Official Fitness Trainer for Miss Delaware USA 2003/2004; Top-10 Fitness Coach of 2016 on Lessons.com

Past/Present Clients
1000+ people including actors, models, soccer moms (and dads), high school athletes, doctors, nurses, business owners and retirees... and just about everyone in between!

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.