Weight Gain & Injuries & Strength, Oh My!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: I’ve been hearing (do) weights first before cardio, etc. Confusing me…salad after dessert or before main course? I have limited time in the gym, 1 hour, I get there at 5:30 am and have to leave 6:30 or 6:35 at the latest. Otherwise I turn into Jabba the Pumpkin Hut. My weight has been at 180-85 for 33+ years but lately I’ve been up to 190-200 lbs. I’ve been injury prone too: both rotator cuffs repaired, then 2 years ago had hernia surgery, plus a recurring hamstring pull (micro-tear).
My goals are:
A) toning…want to look good/feel good
B ) losing gut and 10 lbs
C) strengthening muscles to prevent injuries and wrestle my teenage sons
D) keep energy levels up all day (I have long days)
What do you suggest my approach be?

Joe Ray, Phoenix, AZ

It's so fun to wrestle with kids

I'm winning now, but it will be harder to wrestle the kids when they're teens!


Alexandra: The best approach is to sleep in and get someone else to do all that early morning exercise for you. Sadly, that only addresses #D – energy level. Let’s go in order because that’s the way we swing at the start of the week – the whole salad, dessert, main course thing is only reminding me that I’m writing when I could be eating breakfast. Luckily, we addressed the question of weights or cardio first right here.

Kymberly: Dear Joe Ray of Sunshine:  Let’s assume you are willing to work out 5 days a week. Discount rate advice:


  • 1 set ONLY of each weight training move
  • 21 minutes of high intensity interval training, with intervals of 5 mins, 2 mins, 5, 2, 5, 2)

Supreme total package, full price advice (aka = free)
Three of the 5 days do medium intensity cardio training first, followed by resistance training; the other two, switch the order. In all cases, end with gentle stretches, especially across your chest (pick a pack of pickled Pumpkin pecs). Here’s the twist (and not to your rotator cuff, Jabba Joe!): On the two days you do cardio after weights, limit your cardio time to 21 minutes. Aaaaand, make those the most intense 21 minutes you can muster up. Interval train by doing 5 minutes of medium high intensity followed by 2 minutes of super high, all out, “I want to outlast those boys of mine when we hit the WWF mat at home” supreme intensity. Repeat the cycle three times (5 mins-2 mins-5-2-5-2-whew! Notice that adds up to 21 minutes?) The high intensity, interval approach will be most time efficient plus more likely to jump start your energy gain and weight loss.

On the 3 days that you start with cardio, roughly divide your time in half leaving some time for post workout stretches. When it comes to the weight training, aim for one set of each exercise, with about 8-15 reps total per exercise. (Kind of a big range, I know, but I’m advising in semi-general terms here since we are close, personal, best strangers. Avoid fatiguing in fewer than 8 reps as that intensity makes the risk too high for your body). Yes, you heard me– ONE set per exercise! Ignore those multi-set grunters around you as they must have time to kill and different goals. Most training gains come in the first set, so take advantage of every rep with no fluff time in between, get in more exercise variety, and select resistance that allows you to achieve muscular fatigue in that one set. No dilly dally for you Joe Ray Dear, a He-Male Dear, Ray a Drop of Golden Sons. Quick- from what musical?

Too much of a (not) good thing.

One Budweiser Tumor - Coming Up

A: With your concerns about your rotators and the hernia, I’d say you need to be cautious about adding heavier weight to your workout. Is there an experienced, certified (by one of the quality organizations) personal trainer at your gym who can check your form? You could be doing your core or shoulder moves incorrectly. Rather than advise you to increase the resistance, we’ll go with “Keep a food journal.” Time to see where the snackin’ is packin’ so you can ditch any Budweiser Tumor.

K: If guys get hernias, what do gals get? Himnias. Ah haaaa I have been waiting years to throw that one down! Given your prior hernia, make sure you are BREATHING throughout all moves. You will be tempted to hold your breath. I say verily unto you, “resist that temptation and be healed!” Also, drink lots of water the rest of the day as that will help with energy levels.

A: We had a reader a while back who was a bit similar to you, and we recommended High Intensity Interval Training, which Kymberly also advises. Take a look at that post too for more details and stalling. And stop eating so many of those Chicharrónes.

Pork Rinds are just nasty

Chicharrones or Pork Rinds - Extra Calories in any Language

Readers: What ideas do you have for Joe Ray? And if you wrestle with your kids, who wins? Who cheats?

Photo credits: Creative Commons



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