Training Questions and Answers
Do you know any workouts to improve you running speed.
I am already really fast for someone my age(13)
I run 21 M.P.H
I run all the bases in a baseball diamond in 10 seconds (360 feet)
Please tell me a work out to make people run faster.
I have some slow people on my baseball team thats why I want to know.
The best way to improve your running speed is to practice running. At
least 2 days per week you should practice sprinting. For example, sprint
40 yards then take a minute rest, sprint 40 yards then take a minute
rest, etc. Keep doing this for about 30 minutes. You can make this harder by sprinting up hill. Sprint 40 yards up hill, walk back down, and repeat for 30 minutes.
Bike riding will also help work your legs and improve your running speed as well.
As for weight training exercises such as:
Squats, Leg press, Dead lifts, Calf raises, Leg raises, Incline sit ups, Hyper extensions, etc.
Will all work the muscles that you use when you run. I have a great training weight training program that incorporates all of these exercises at: http://www.leehayward.com/workout_programs/index.htm
Hey Lee how is it going?
I have been searching everywhere for a straight answer to the question, "should I do aerobic exercise before or after training with weights?" There seems to be a split on the decision and I was curious as to what your thoughts were.
Thanks for your time,
You should do aerobic exercise first thing in the morning before eating. This will help you burn more bodyfat then doing your aerobic exercise later in the day. When I am dieting for a bodybuilding contest I will do aerobic exercise in the morning before breakfast and weight training in the afternoon.
But if can only schedule one workout session per day then do your weight training first, then do your aerobic exercise after. This will allow you to handle heavier weights with your weight training and help you reach your target heart rate quicker when doing your aerobic exercise afterwards.
Concerning your 12 week program, will it make someone bigger in size or just stronger. And
also, after the 12 week program, what training should I follow? Will eating so much make me
fat, or with all the work you're doing you'll keep off the weight? One more question, stomach
vacuums. Do they do anything?
The 12 week program is great for both building size and strength. But the main thing that
will determine whether or not you gain size depends on your diet. If you eat more calories
then you burn off during the day you will gain weight, if you eat less calories then you burn
off you will lose weight.
After the 12 week program you can do it again or you can move on to another program, it is
totally up to you.
When you are trying to get bigger and stronger you will usually add a little bodyfat in the
process. However, this is no big deal because fat can easily be lost with diet and cardio.
Most people are so afraid of putting on a little fat that they limit their muscle gains.
This is why bodybuilders have phases
during the year when they bulk up and get bigger, and other phases when they diet down to get
ripped for a contest. They don't stay lean and ripped all year long.
Stomach vacuums work the Transverse Abdominus (TVA) muscles. They are used to keep the
stomach pulled in, making the
midsection appear smaller. We all know of people who are lean, but they have a pot belly that
sticks out quite a bit. This is because they have weak TVA muscles.
Training the TVA is very easy. Simply blow all of your air out and suck your stomach in and
hold it for 15-30 seconds. You can do this throughout the day by simply sucking your stomach
in. That may seem rather simple, but it works for creating a slimmer waist line.
i havent worked out in a few years but i just joined a gym about two and a half weeks ago i work out and dont get sore at all and i know that when your sore that means that muscle is recovering which means it is gonna grow. why is it that i dont get sore? am i doing something wrong or what?
Soreness is not required for muscle growth. Generally, the better conditioned someone is the less sore they will become. I rarely get sore from my workouts. Just focus on making strength gains and adding weight to your exercises when ever possible. As long as you are getting stronger you will get bigger and more muscular as well.
I have tried everything, and my triceps don't seem to
get any bigger! Do you know of a Tricep routine which would help me
out? Any help would be much appreciated.
An excellent tricep exercise that you can do is bench press rack
Place a flat bench in a power rack, set the safety pins so that you only have
to press the weight about 4 inches to lock it out. Use a close grip, no
wider then pinky fingers on the guide rings of the bar. This exercise
will allow you to use much heavier weights then you can bench press. Do
this exercise once a week after a tricep workout. Do several warm up
sets, starting light and increase the weight each set. Work up to 3
heavy sets of 5 reps. With each rep lockout the weight and hold it at
the top for 5 seconds. Lower the weight to the pins, pause for a
second, then do the next rep.
After this exercise go to a tricep push
down machine and do 2 light sets of 20 reps, this will burn the triceps
Another exercise that you should do to build up your triceps is push
ups. Everyday at home do 2 sets of as many push ups as you can do. Lie
on the floor, place your hands close to the sides of your body, this
will work the triceps more.
Just pump out as many reps as you can, rest
3 minutes and do it again. Do these push ups every single day without
fail. Your body will adapt to the work load that you place upon it. If
you follow these tips faithfully, you will add an inch to your arms
within the next 6 weeks.
Wassup man. My name is Daniel. Today was the first time I have visted your website. It ROCKS. I like how you answer everyones questions. Hopefully you will answer mine as well. I'm 15 yrs old. 5'7 I weigh about 176. I live in the gym. I'm there 4-5
days a week. I focus on alot of protein. ( Fish Chicken, Shakes etc.)The reason I work out is because of football. I love it, its all i
think about. But there is one problem. I play OL and DL. Im not that big and im not that fast. I really really really would like to
play fullback this year. I got what it takes i just need to get FASTER. What do you recommened. How do I get faster. How
many sets of what should I do. What should I run. What should I eat. The season is closing in and camp is only a few months
away. Plez help me so I can shock the coaches.PS. Just in case you need to know. I bench 240, squat 275, clean 155, and
PLEZ HELP MAN
In order to get faster you are going to have to bring up your leg development. You can almost bench as much as you can squat! By focusing on developing your legs you will improve your performance on the field and it will help you gain muscular bodyweight.
I have a couple good leg training articles at:
I also have a good 12 week workout routine that you can follow at:
Eat as much food as you can, don't go more then 3 hours with out eating something. The more you eat, the bigger and stronger you will get. Drink lots of water to keep your muscles hydrated and energy levels high. You should always keep a small bottle of water in your school bag so you can sip water during the day.
howz it goin? Just visted your site today n read some ppl's
responses. Glad to hear that you do tend to reply back. Alright i am 22 yrs
old male. I've been workin out on n off for about 3 years now. Now i just
wanted to ask you for exercises that are good and bad for your chest, or is
there such a thing as a bad exercise. I tend to have a bulky chest from the
begining, and have alwayz wanted a chest which is nicely developed n flat i
guess if u wanna call it that. I have never worked the bottom of my chest for
ages because some1 told me just to do inclines and flat bench only. i just
want my chest to be hard n cut. may be you can suggest some exercises to
target tha bottom of my chest to make it more flat n more portioned with my
upper chest.. just dont wanna live with bitch tits for tha rest of my life. I
have a really good diet n work out schedule. if you got anything for me like
some sort of pills for cuttin up my muscle please do reply bak to me. thanks
One exercise that you can do that will really help improve your chest development
is push ups. Everyday do 2 sets of as many push ups as you can do. You can do
these at home in your free time. Just do 2 sets everyday, each day try to get at
least 1 more rep then your did the previous day. Do this every single day without
fail, even if you worked your chest that day. Your body will adapt to the work
load you place upon it. Everyday you will be pumping blood into your chest which
will speed up muscle growth. After just one month of daily push ups you will see
an improvement in your chest development.
With your chest workouts in the gym don't be afraid to try new exercises. Try
different bench angles and use a variety of exercises (i.e. barbells, dumbbells,
Great website and thanks for all the time and effort you put into it, I've read nearly every page now and I have learnt loads!
I have just started out training heavy (relatively) with weights, however I notice you advise training the legs as this will spurt extra growth through out the body. I love running, and wondered if you would think this would suffice as leg training, or should I really be doing heavier stuff? I'm not overly keen on doing squats as I'm scared of damaging my knees.
Thanks again, and all the best
Running is not the same as strength training for the legs. When done properly and by increasing the weights gradually over
time squats will not hurt your knees. Squats are the most demanding exercise, and they are the most rewarding exercise.
Nothing will build muscle and strength like squats.
You will never hear someone say I don't want to bench presses or barbell curls because I am afraid I will hurt my elbows.
But you will regularly hear people say I don't want do squats because I am afraid I will hurt my knees.
In fact running may be harder on the knees then squatting. When you run, the impact with each stride can be the equivalent
of 6 times your bodyweight.
I am a female, recreational weight-lifter. I am small boned (somewhat petite)
and I weigh 135lbs. I am not body-building per se, but I am trying to get
stronger and bigger. I generally spend two hours three to four days a week at
a gym where I do 3 sets of 10-12 repitions per exercise. I try to do 3(ie.
triceps) to 5 (ie back, legs) exercises per muscle group. Due to time
restrictions I only do about 2 muscle groups per work-out.
Since July when I began I have progressed in every group; lately I seem to be
adding 1-5 lbs every 1-3 weeks to each exercise. I think I started at anly 40
lbs bench press and now I am at 70. I am very pleased with my progress and
most of all I enjoy almost every work-out a great deal. I pay attention to
form, and I believe I have benefited from closely observing the experienced
lifters in the gym. I eat well (50-70 grams protein/day), I sleep extremely
well, and I have energy through the whole day.
Finally towards my question: I am mildly to extremely sore almost everytime
after every work-out. It lasts through the whole next day and often into the
second day (exactly in the muscle I worked--at least I know I am isolating
well!). It does not actually bother me, but it is considerable, ie sore to the
touch and say if it my chest like today I can really feel it if I, for instance
bound down some stairs.
I only "get to" each muscle about once a week, so I can always recover it well
and can always work it as hard as I am up to the next time. Yesterday I did my
chest (press w/bells, standing flys, decline press, dips with 30lbs assist.)
and today was very sore. But today I went and did biceps and triceps and had a
great day even doing some new forearm work I learned about.
I know I could change my workouts to more reps, to lighter weights, and in many
other ways, but I like how it is going. Please don't tell me that as a woman I
should do 12 or more reps without any strain; I want to push myself!
As far as the soreness, I think maybe it will get better, but many people tell
me (all men) that this is not normal. I think maybe being female it's jsut
that I don't have the benefit of all the anabolic biochemical pathways.
I guess my question is: am I over-training? If I am and I can stand it will
there be some consequence I should be aware of? My goal is to continue this
program until Spring and then take a short break and consider a new program,
but I promised myself to be disciplined until then and this has given me not
only physical benefits, but mental (resolve, etc) as well.
Thank you very much,
Usually people only get sore when they first start a new workout routine. After
2-3 weeks the soreness usually stops. I rarely ever get sore after a workout now.
Here are a few tips to help reduce muscle soreness.
Increase your protein intake. You should eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound
of bodyweight each day, for you this would be a minimum of 135 grams of protein
each day. This will provide your body with the raw materials that it needs to
build and repair muscle tissue. Not only will this help reduce soreness, but you
will get stronger and add lean muscle by eating more protein.
The easiest way to get extra protein is with protein powders. I recommend Optimum
Nutrition Whey Protein because this is a high quality protein that mixes easily,
tastes good, and is much cheaper then most brands. If you ate 3 meals per day and
had a protein drink in between each meal this would be an excellent way to get
extra protein in your diet. You can get Optimum Whey Protein on sale at:
Right after each workout have a protein drink and a piece of fruit (i.e. protein
drink and a banana). Mix up your protein drink in advance and keep it in a shaker
cup and pack it in your gym bag. This will help get nutrients to your muscles when
they need it most, right after a workout. You can get a excellent protein shaker
cup at: http://totfit.safeshopper.com/20/927.htm This shaker cup has an internal screen that breaks up any lumps in the powder.
Before each workout do 5 minutes of cardio to as a general warm up. I personally
like using the rower machine because it gets blood flowing throughout the entire
For each exercise always do a couple warm up sets before handling heavy weights.
For your warm up sets you only have to do about 5 reps per set. Do not wear
yourself out, just warm up the muscles and joints before lifting heavy weights.
For example, if you are going to do bench presses and work up to 70 lbs. you should
do a warm up set with the empty bar (approx. 45 lbs.), then do another set 55 lbs.,
another set with 65 lbs., then use 70 lbs.
After each workout do about 5-10 minutes of light cardio as a cool down. Walking
on the treadmill, stationary bike, etc. don't push yourself hard, just go at an
When you get a shower alternate cold and hot phases. Have the shower hot for about
2 minutes and then change it to cold for about 1 minute. Alternate this 2-3 times
during your shower. What this will do is force blood throughout the muscles and
help them recover faster. When the shower is hot the blood rushes to the surface
and makes your skin red, when the shower is cold blood rushes back to the center of
the body. If you have access to a sauna you can also alternate a sauna for a few
minutes and a cold shower for a minute.
Try these tips and let me know how they work for you.
I have small arms compared to my chest, so I would to know a routine to
add 2 inches on arms.
These are my stats:
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 145 lb
Please help me!!
In order to get bigger arms you need to get bigger all over. You should try
to get your body weight up to 175 lbs. over the next several months. By
focusing your training on the large muscle groups such as the legs, back,
etc. will release anabolic hormones that will help all of your muscle groups
to grow bigger, including your arms.
You need to increase your food intake, especially protein foods such as:
such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk, protein shakes, protein
bars, etc. This will provide your body with the nutrients that it needs to
I have a great training routine that you should follow at:
http://www.leehayward.com/workout_programs/index.htm If you follow this 12 week program along with eating 200 grams of protein everyday you will be bigger and more muscular all over and add a couple inches to your arms.
I have had a thorough look at your site and have read a great deal of it,
and have found it very informative. I also like the fact hat you actually
take the time to respond to people's questions, which is what i am hoping
you will do with mine. I am about 6 feet tall, 16 years of age, and weigh
about 178, which is up from the 170 i was at the beginning of October which
was the low i reached after a high of about 195 in June. I now desire to
put on some more muscle, mainly for football, but also to look good. Now
that you have a bit of background on me, I will get on with my questions.
1) I am curious about the eating habits I should be undertaking for ideal
growth, but I fear that I sometimes do not eat enough as I am afraid of
gaining back the weight I had before, so I was wondering if you could advise
me on the best amount of food I should consume that will result in the best
nutrition, yet little or no fat gain. On a little bit of an aside, I do get
alot of protein in my diet as I eat alot of ffod soleley for the protein.
2) Is it efficient to work out multiple times in one day instead of once for
a long time duration of time? I say this as I work out at lunch everyday at
school on the days i do work out, which would be monday, tuesday, thursday
and friday as you recommended on your site, and then again for another hour
or so after school, with me also working out before school somedays aswell
if I have alot of excercises to do that day.
3) Is it productive and efficient to do three sets of pushups to failure
before I go to sleep everynight, except Sundays, even if I am not doing
chest that day?
Thank you very much for your time and the courtesy of spreading your
knowledge around to those who need it.
By eating lots of nutritious foods you provide the body with the raw material it needs for muscle growth. We
take supplements to help us get extra nutrients. Supplements are not designed to replace real food, but to be
taken in addition to real food. For example if you ate the typical 3 meals a day and then had a protein shake in
between each meal this would be a great way to “supplement” your diet with extra protein.
For your nutrition you should eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. For protein eat foods
such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk, protein shakes, etc. Eat plenty of carbohydrates such as bread,
rice, cereals, potatoes, pasta, fruit, vegetables, etc. Try to limit your fat intake, you don't eliminate fat entirely
just avoid eating excess fried foods and “junk-foods”. Eat a small meal every 2-3 hours. Drink lots of water
everyday and get 8 hours of sleep each night.
It is ok to workout more then once per day if you do not have time to do an entire workout in one session. I personally like to do cardio in the morning and weight training in the evening. If you are going to do 2 weight training sessions in one day keep them short (i.e. 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening). Doing more then this will just wear you out and limit your progress.
Doing a couple sets of push ups everyday is a great way speed up growth in your chest, especially if your chest is lagging behind the rest of your development.
I have a great workout routine that you can follow at: http://www.leehayward.com/workout_programs/index.htm
I have few questions that most trainers at the gym have been unable to answer and I think you will.
1) How many days after you workout do your muscles start to lose the gains made from that workout? What happends to your muscle fibers in this decline stage?
2) When I have reached a point where I am satisfied with my physique how often can I workout to maintain that physique?
3) How do your muscles react to a workout consisting mainly of pushups versus a typical bench press workout?
Generally, if you stop working out you will lose some strength within a couple weeks and keep losing it overtime unless you resume training. If you don't workout your muscles will not be as big, tight, or as strong because their is no demand being placed upon them.
There is really no such as thing as "maintaining" you are either moving forwards or backwards, there is no in between. I can guarantee you that if you switch to a "maintenance workout" routine, you will lose muscle size and strength overtime.
Push ups are very limiting because you only lift about 60% of your bodyweight. Once your muscles are accustomed to lifting that much they will no longer grow from that amount of resistance. This is why construction workers get only big enough to handle the exact amount of work they do during a days work and no bigger, even though they are doing physical work all day long.
I have been lifting weights on and off for about a year now and I think it's time to get serious. I'm 5'11 and weighing around 240 pounds. I consider my self to be pretty strong. I usually bench, curl, and do triceps exercises. I usually do 4 sets of 5 when doing anything. I bench 260, curl 65 (each hand) and on this bow flex someone gave me I do 80 pounds (each hand) for my triceps. I want to start working out my shoulders/neck. I really don't care much for the bow flex so I bought some free weights. I have a bench, bench bar, and a curling bar (small one). What can I do increase my chest, biceps, triceps, and my neck/shoulders?
Thanks for all your help,
If you want to make some real gains in muscle size and strength you have to focus on training your entire body, not just your chest and arms. Strong arms are useless unless you have strong core muscles to support them (i.e. back, legs, abdominals, lower back, etc.). I have a great workout routine that you should read at: http://www.leehayward.com/workout_programs/index.htm If you follow this routine you will make some excellent gains in both muscle size and strength.
Can you explain to me what an epillitical machine is, does, and possibley even a picture of it. I have been told to try to find on, but no ones seems to know what I and talking about.
An elliptical machine is like a combination of a step machine and a treadmill. It is a great cardiovascular exercise machine that is easy on the joints because there is no impact.
I am very interested in natural bodybuilding and I have been lifting weights for a long time,I was wondering what the best amount of rest time between sets is the best for building muscle mass and why? I've seen articles saying that 60 to 90 seconds are best but also have read that 3 minutes rest between sets is the best,One of them being a Weider paper that I got with a weight machine.3 minutes seemed to make sense because you dont have to reduce your weights too much and can there for stimulate more muscle but I've also found that resting 90 seconds between sets does feel alot more intense,Could you please clear this up for me and explain why one way is better than the other?
There is no right or wrong way to train. You should vary your rest times as well as your exercises.
When you rest less time between sets (i.e. 1 minute rest) you will have to use less weight but this also helps to stimulate growth hormone. This will work more on muscular endurance.
When you take longer rest times between sets (i.e. 3 minutes rest) you will be able to handle heavier weights and this helps to stimulate testosterone. This will work on building maximum strength and power.
I have a good training article that you should read at: http://www.leehayward.com/workout_programs/index.htm
I have just recently gone through the article section of your website.I have a query regarding the article "How to develop six pack abs." I have a weight problem, so I do about an hour of cardio daily.I am already doing some weight training in the gym but I avoid training my lower back,abs & obliques since I want a small waistline.Will doing side bends increase the size of my love handles? Should I work on my lower back or will it bulge out like my stomach? I do only pullups & upright rows for back.Is it ok to work on my abs or will they bulge out like a paunch? My instructor tells me to avoid training my abs & lower back.Please advise.
I suggest that you train your mid section (i.e. abs, obliques, and lower back). Muscle just doesn't grow that easily. Strengthening these muscles will not increase the size of your waist. A strong mid section will help to strengthen the entire body. No matter what kind of lifting or activity you do you need to support and stabilize yourself with your mid section. I personally train my waist line just like any other muscle group.
I have a question for you. I am 15 years old and I have been weight training for a little bit more than a year i have increased the weight I lift alot but for some odd reason I am not getting bigger. I see people around the
same age maybe a year older,who can't lift as much as me yet they are extremely bigger than I am. My question is will I be little forever or will I start to blow up as I grow older.
thanks for you help.
p.s. If I use the machine bench press can I still gain bulk from that like free weights?
The fact that you are strong for your size is a good thing. If you ever decide to compete in powerlifting in the future your strength will allow you to do well. As you get older and have a few more years of lifting under your belt your muscles will mature and fill out. In the mean time keep focusing on making strength gains. Use perfect form with all of your exercises. And eat as much food as you can, the more you eat the bigger you will get.
Try to base the majority of your workouts around free weight exercises. This doesn't mean that you can not use machine exercises. But do the basic free weight movements (i.e. bench press, squat, dead lift, etc.).
Hi i wanted to know if it is possible to increase my bicep size just by using 2,5 and 8 kilogram weights, because i'm only 16 nearly 17 and i am only 5ft 6 and i'm sick of people caling me small and thinking i am weak.
You can make some good gains in size and strength from working out at home with little or no exercise equipment.
Here is a sample workout routine that you can perform in your home. Do this workout every second day.
Push ups (works the chest, triceps, and shoulders)
- 3 sets of as many reps as you can do
Chin ups (works the back and arms)
- 3 sets of as many reps as you can do
Dumbbell Shoulder Press (works the shoulders and triceps)
- 3 sets of 15+ reps
1 Arm Dumbbell Row (works the back and arms)
- 3 sets (each arm) of 15+ reps
Bicep Curls (works the biceps and forearms)
- 3 sets of 15+ reps
Squats (works the thighs)
- 3 sets of 25+ reps using either weights or just your bodyweight
Calf raises (works the calfs)
- 3 sets of 25+ reps using either weights or just your bodyweight
Crunches (works the upper abs)
- 3 sets of 25+ reps
For your diet you should eat lots of protein foods such as: beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk, protein shakes, protein / energy bars, etc. Eat lots of carbs such as: bread, rice, cereals, potatoes, pasta, fruit, vegetables, etc. Eat a small meal or snack every 2 hours during the day. Also drink lots of water throughout the day.
First of all I would like to tell you how much I love your site. I go on everyday and learn something new everyday. Its the best site that I have ever come across because I can actually relate to alot of the problems and questions that everyone else has or asks. Well I just have a question for you about a new program I would like to begin.
Well I would just like to give you a visual of what I look like. I am 5'7, 165. I have been lifting for 3-4 yrs but never took it seriously until last October when I include a well balance diet and focused workouts. I have seen amazing results in size (gained about 10lbs). I have alot more thickness as well as never lost any of my cuts. I would like to start a new program:
M - Chest/abs/cardio
T - Bis/Tris
W - Legs/abs/cardio
T - Shoulders/cardio
F - Back/abs
S - Off
S - Off
Begin schedule all over again.
My question is, is it ok about how my routine goes. i dont want to loss body mass but ever since i started a routine kinda like this I feel so much more rested and honestly get better workouts. So with this routine and 3 days of cardio(30 mins after my workouts), Do you think I will be risking body mass? And if this routine is fine, how many exercises and sets do u recommend for each body part as well as any specific exercises I should be doing if I begin this program? Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. Keep up the good work. Thanks.
Your workout plan looks good. But I think that you would get more rest and recovery time if you worked out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Take Wednesdays and weekends off. If you want you can do some cardio on your off days from weight training. Cardio will not hinder your muscle growth, in fact it will help. I have a good little article about this at: http://www.leehayward.com/art23.htm
With my workouts I vary my exercises every 2-3 weeks. This way you can make steady progress in strength and muscle growth. If you stick to the same exercises week in a week out you will eventually reach a plateau and fail to make progress. I have an article at: http://www.leehayward.com/workout_programs/index.htm that is laid out very similar to my personal workout routines. You can use this as a guide line to help with your workouts.
How are you. I really need your advice on a couple of things. First, I am 4'11' and weigh 120 pounds. I need to loose some light weight (around 15 pounds), but I also want to tone my thighs and stomach. I just started going to the gym at lease 3 times per week, for at lease 2 hours. I also have a epillitical machine at home that I use when my schedule gets too busy for me to go to the gym. Can this machine help me to tone my thighs and abs. Also when I am at the gym, I have no idea what machines to use that will help me achieve my goals. Could you please recommend a few machines and exercises that will help. Second, I eat healthy meals but I would like to use protein shakes because I feel very tired after working and going to school which leaves me with little or no energy to workout, but I am concerned that It will bulk me up since my body is so small. Can you please recommend something that will give me energy and boost my metabolism. I am just looking to loose, tone and maintain my weight in a healthy manner.
Thanks for your time Lee.
Toning is simply losing bodyfat and building lean muscle. That is all you can do to change your body. Aerobic exercise such as the elliptical machine, walking, bike riding, etc. are all great forms of aerobic exercise. Weight training will help to add lean muscle to your body. You don't have to worry about bulking up or getting too big. There are literally thousands of skinny teenage males busting their butts in the gym trying to get big and they have 10 times the anabolic hormones that a woman has. Many of the "huge" women bodybuilders that you see are using steroids and other muscle enhancing drugs. It is very unlikely that a natural woman will get "too big".
For protein supplements I use Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein because it is cheaper then the other brands and it is very good quality. I use this just like any other protein food. For example, you could have 2 chicken breasts and you would get approx. 40+ grams of protein. Or you could have 2 scoops of protein powder mixed with water or milk and get 40+ grams of protein. One is not really better then the other, except protein drinks are much more convenient and usually cheaper then most high protein foods (i.e. meat). I usually have 3 food meals per day and 2-3 protein drinks per day.
A great book that I recommend that you get and read is "Body For Life". This is an excellent book to help you get started on the right track to proper nutrition and exercise. If you follow there 12 week exercise and eating routine you will make great progress in your health and fitness levels. I also have a good article that you should read at: http://www.leehayward.com/gym_equipment/index.htm
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