Exercise, What, When, How?

What is the best form of exercise? Cardio? Strength? Weights? What if I were to tell you that it is all of the above. Each form of exercise has it’s own benefits and combining all of these in your exercise program can take your routine to the next level with astonishing results.

Cardio exercises increases the heart rate which aids weight loss, Strength or Weight exercise aids in keeping the weight off for good, increases strength and fitness, protects muscle mass and bone health, increases body functionality and even plays a role in disease prevention. Many people, especially women, think that if the do weight training that they will end up being bulky and masculine, but this is not the case.

Including stretching in your exercise program increases flexibility as muscles are stretched and elongated which in turns strengthens the muscles. Increased flexibility in turn improves your performance during physical activity, which means you will be able to train harder and longer. As muscles are flexible, the risk of injury caused by movement is reduced. And if that is not enough, stretching also increases blood flow to the muscles.

What happens if you do the same thing in the same way over and over and over again? You get bored. Well the same thing happens with your body when you stick to doing the same exercises day in and day out. Initially you will see some results as your exercise program is a new experience for your body and is adapting to the change. However, after a while, the muscles get tired and you have to work harder and in a different way to achieve the same results or improve on your current fitness level.

There are various ways you can go about changing up your exercise program, here are three ways of doing exactly that:

  • Change the type of exercise from week to week

If you want to do cardio, you could do a different type of cardio exercise each week for example running, cycling, rowing etc.

  • Increase the weight or resistance being trained with

When you find that the exercise that you are doing is not pushing you to the limit and is almost becoming too easy, add some weight. If you have been doing squats and you can feel that you don’t have to work so hard at it anymore, start doing with either kettle bells or a sandbag to add some additional resistance for example.

  • Add super sets to an exercise

A super set is when one set of exercise is performed directly after a set of a different exercise without rest between them. After completing a super set, you rest for about a minute in order to recover before it is repeated twice more. For example, you would do squats followed directly by lunges and then rest for about a minute before repeating twice more.

I have found that by setting a routine in place ensures that you stay on track and keeps you focused. That way when you walk into the gym or start exercising at home, you know what you need to do and how you are going to do it rather than deciding as you walk around. During January, gyms are busier than usual and when machines are occupied, you could end up training half heartedly, not to your full potential or repeating what you did the day before and that could lead to you not achieving your desired results.

By combining cardio and strength or weight training, you could start with strength training if the cardio machines are occupied or you can change it up by using a different cardio machine. Here is my recommended exercise program for a week depending on how many day you want to exercise:

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Cardio

+

Upper body

Cardio

+

Core

Stretch Cardio

+

Lower body

Cardio

+

Core

Cardio Rest

 

If you want to exercise every second day, that is entirely up to you. Remember, Rome was not built in a day so listen to your body and once you are more comfortable you can exercise either more often or more intense. The trick however, is not to go for more than three days without exercising, anything more than that, and it will take you longer to get back into the swing of things and that first day back will be grueling!

When doing upper body, core or lower body exercises, choose 4 exercises from the examples  and do three sets of 15 reps. A rep is the number of times you complete a specific exercise. A set on the other hand, is the number of cycles of reps that you complete. For example if you do 15 push ups you have completed one set of 15 reps, you would then recover (wait for about a minute) before doing 15 push ups again which would count as your second set. In order to complete the exercise, you would recover again and complete a third set of 15 reps.

In the spirit of variety, here are examples of various exercise types that you can put together for your exercise program.

  • Cardio

Cardio on days 1,2,4 & 5 should be at least 20 minutes and at least 45 minutes on day 6.

Examples of cardio exercise:

Running

Rowing

Cycling – a spinning class is a great cardio workout

Elliptical

Stair climber

Jumping jacks

Skipping rope

Swimming – a great full body workout

  • Upper body exercise examples

exercise-program-001

arms-001

 

  • Core exercise examples

When planking start by holding for 15 seconds at a time

exercise-program-002

exercise-program-003

exercise-program-004

 

 

  • Stretch exercise examples

Yoga

Pilates

  • Lower body exercise examples

exercise-program-005

exercise-program-006

exercise-program-007

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You can also spice things up by attending a different class every now and again as these usually include full body work outs such as Shape or Grid classes. By committing and booking a space in a class, it will also keep you to getting to gym. Check out your local gym as they have a variety of classes on offer at times to fit into anyone’s schedule.

Most people want to add protein shakes to their diet when starting an exercise program, but this is not necessary, you do however need to take some form of a supplement immediately after exercising as this aids muscle recovery and also ensures that you don’t lose any muscle.

My top three supplements post exercising are

  • Fat free chocolate flavored milk
  • Nesquik
  • Coffee

To increase fat loss, have a cup of coffee or green tea 30 minutes prior to your workout as the caffeine acts as a fat burning agent.

Always remember to listen to your body and don’t try to compete as it is not their journey but yours.


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