What’s better to maximize fitness and fat loss – is it cardio, muscle or both?
What cardio exercise brings the best results – is it cycling, rowing, running, swimming, hiking or something else?
What muscle conditioning workouts enhance overall fitness best – is it Bootcamp classes, Barre, Yoga, Pilates or traditional weight training?
Is High Intensity Training the way to go? Or is Long, Slow Distance Training better?
If someone decides to get fit and commit to an exercise program, there are a ton of options. It can be overwhelming and confusing. There’s only so much time in a week so how do you choose?
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Here’s some guidelines to help you design a good, solid weekly program that enhances your overall health and achieves optimal fitness.
The best program is the one you actually DO! So, if you hate running and will have a difficult time adhering to a running program, then choose something else as your primary activity. Design a program that incorporates fitness activities that bring you some enjoyment. Ask yourself whether you like exercising in a group or solo. Do you enjoy being outdoors or indoors? Choose an activity(s) that you will have an easier time sticking to.
Be sure that your program incorporates all primary fitness components including cardio, muscle and flexibility/mobility. Based on time constraints, combining activities will be more efficient for most people. For example, you might take a class that incorporates muscle and cardio drills so you can check off two fitness components in one workout. You might perform 3 cardio workouts and 2 muscle conditioning workouts each week and perform some stretching/mobility work after each workout to hit all 3 important fitness components. You might run or walk to your yoga studio to take a class so you get cardio and flexibility.
Challenge all systems
Within each cardio and/or muscle conditioning workout, be sure to train all energy systems. So, for example, if you cycle, go long and slow for one ride, another go short and fast and another go for a moderate length and intensity. If you only perform high intensity training, your endurance and stamina will suffer. If you only perform slow distance training, your speed will suffer. For muscle conditioning, go heavy and less reps for one workout and lower resistance, higher reps for another workout which will condition both your muscular strength and endurance.
Mix it up
If you notice all the activities in your program are linear – like cycling, running, swimming, squats, pushups – include some activities that get you moving through different planes and angles – like participating in a sport like soccer or volleyball once per week, taking a choreographed dance class, or choosing some strength and cardio exercises that have you move laterally or through rotation. A good trainer can make sure you are incorporating all fitness components and addressing all movement patterns.
Not everyone can afford to join a Cycle studio, a Barre studio, a Yoga studio and a Bootcamp gym to try to get it all in. Instead look for a fitness facility that will offer it all – a one-stop fitness shop – to make it easier to keep your program fresh and be able to incorporate all fitness components. Or if you love your Barre studio, be sure to incorporate some running, walking, hiking, cycling or some form of cardio into your program to compliment your Barre workouts. If you love your cycle studio, be sure to do some resistance training, core conditioning and mobility work at home to make sure you’re addressing all fitness components. Based on your budget and your interests, design a weekly schedule that incorporates variety which will be good for your body and your mind!
Don’t neglect key fitness components
Remember that every type of fitness discipline will provide specific benefits, but typically there will be other areas that are being neglected that you’ll need to address during a different type of workout. If anyone tells you that a specific activity is the only exercise you need to do, they are most likely misleading you. Be smart – this is your body and your health.
Bottom line….there is no perfect way to move your body. The human body is a complex piece of machinery and if you want it to function optimally, you’ll need to train and condition it in a variety of different ways.
Your in health & fitness,