There are many ways to get a ‘workout’ in. Depending on the physique and level of fitness you’re working to accomplish, your workouts should look different than someone trying to reach a different goal.
To get an idea of how you should organize your workouts, check out some of the information below:
Cardiovascular exercise (often just called “cardio“) is considered by many to be the most important for your overall health. Cardio has the ability to improve circulation throughout the body, alleviate or even reverse chronic health conditions, and of course burn body fat while doing so. Doing cardio is a no-brainer for everyone, no matter the age, fitness level or physique goals. But the type of cardio to do…that is subject to debate.
Steady State cardio is simply maintaining the same intensity level throughout the duration of the exercise. Since maintaining a high intensity level during exercise is extremely difficult, steady state exercise is usually performed at a lower intensity and for longer durations. This makes steady state exercise easier on the body, so it’s a great option for beginners, but can also be an integral part of any advanced athlete’s routine.
Because steady state cardio is lower intensity, it requires fewer calories to perform, so for those looking to burn more calories during their workouts, the longer you workout the more calories you’ll burn. However, for those trying to build muscle mass, even steady state cardio can begin to break down muscle tissue after 45 minutes to an hour, so some may want to keep exercises to 20-30 minutes at a time and perform them more frequently.
Interval Training involves training at higher intensities for shorter periods of time, usually with periodic breaks to allow the heart rate to recovery briefly. Because interval training is higher intensity, it burns more calories, but it’s significantly harder on the body. This makes it unsuitable for people with significantly low health and fitness levels.
For those at higher health and fitness levels, interval training is a great option for getting your heart rate up, burning calories, and even building muscle while doing it. If you’re a beginner, however, you should check with your doctor to see what level of exercise is appropriate for you.
The entire human movement system (bones, muscles, joints, nerves, etc.) involves muscles working together to move the skeletal system as allowed by our joints. This means that the stronger and healthier our muscles are, the better our bodies will move. For this reason, strength training is a key component of any serious fitness regimen. Strength training challenges muscle groups which stimulates growth, better muscle control, and even better hormone responses. The idea that lifting weights is only for bodybuilders is completely misguided. Everyone should perform some form of strength training, because when it comes to muscles, it often is use it or lose it.
Testing your balance is one of the best ways to test your muscle control. It’s probably the most overlooked aspect of personal health, but it can make a world of difference in your posture, strength, form, and ability to prevent injuries that may result from instabilities (this becomes especially important with age).
Each workout, whether weightlifting, stretching or even doing cardiovascular plyometric movements, incorporate some moves that require extra balance. This will make each workout more challenging, and more beneficial.
A long muscle is a strong muscle. Now there’s actually recent evidence that suggests that a muscle’s maximal strength capacity may be slightly lessoned if it is stretched beyond a certain point prior to exercise, but aside from that rare exception the ideal goal for anyone’s body is to have all muscles in balance with one another, relaxed, and not tight or under tension (when at rest of course).
The reality however is that almost every has muscle tightness and/or imbalance somewhere in their body. It’s actual normal, very few people naturally have perfect muscle balance and symmetry. Normal doesn’t mean optimal though, and the longer muscles stay imbalanced, the more likely they are to worsen, and even pull other muscles out of balance. This leads to poor posture, form and often chronic inflammation and pain.
Stretching muscles can instantly alleviate some or all of the negative symptoms associated with muscle tightness. Not only does stretching elongate the muscles, allowing them to relax into their natural position position, but it also stretches the tendons and ligaments around the joints. This improves mobility, tissue elasticity, and can take pressure off of the joints that results from excess muscle tightness.
So the moral of the story is, stretching is an easy yet powerful way to improve your overall well-being. It increases mobility, alleviates tightness and inflammation, and can drastically alter chronic symptoms as well as muscle responsiveness. Flexibility training should be incorporated into everyone’s daily routine, so whether it’s yoga, palates, or just doing simple stretches before and after your workout, just be sure to fit stretching into your schedule as much as possible.
With all of the above information, you should be able to understand what your workout routine should look like. Every routine should incorporate some of everything, but depending on your personal needs and desires, the percentage of time you spent doing each will vary.