With so many of you embarking on a new exercise journey, today I want to answer some frequently asked questions on how to exercise properly so you can make this year your healthiest year ever!
Q: How Long Do I Need To Exercise For?
Depending on whether you're performing full body or training specific muscle groups, a strength training routine should take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete. Add another 10 - 60 minutes if your including cardiovascular (aerobic) activity.
Keep in mind, the more intense your workout, the less time you need to do it. Intense workouts take up more resources and so need more recovery time.
Short Intense Workouts = Full body circuits, Sprints, Kettlebell Workout
Long Steady Workouts = Cycling, Walking, Bicycling, Swimming, etc.
Q: How Many Exercise Days Per Week Do I Need to Exercise?
If you keep your workouts short, under 30 minutes, then you can exercise 4 - 5 days per week. Your goals is to try to exercise each muscle group at 2 - 3 times per week. Allow a minimum of 48 - 72 hours rest for each muscle group. If you doing a total body workout, a minimum of three training sessions per week, performed every 1 - 2 days, is adequate.
Personal recovery time is the more important factor here. The older you become and the more demanding your workout, the more time it takes to recover. Alternatively, with proper rest and good nutriton, the quicker you recover.
Q: Should I Perform Cardio or Strength Training?
The answer is both. Cardiovascular (Aerobic) training is great for the heart and lungs, reduces blood pressure, and lowers cholesterol. However, weight training is good for bone health, increasing metabolism for fat loss, increasing muscle tone, increasing insulin sensitivity, and improving balance and movement abilities.
To save time, you can perform both cardiovascular and weight training in one single workout by performing full body circuits with limited or no rest between exercises. If you training for a specific event (i.e., 10k run or 50k cycle), or if your goal is fat loss, then it may be necessary to perform additional cardio on separate days.
Q: What Exercises Should I Perform?
There are tons of workout books, magazines, videos, etc., that you can use when designing your workout routine. Keep in mind that five basic movement patterns should be considered. This ensures that you follow your body's natural structure, maximizes muscle recruitment, and prevents injury.
These five basic movement patters are:
- Squats - Leg Press, Goblet Squats, Pistol Squats
- Deadlift - Kettlebell Swings, Barbell
- Lunges - Forward, Reverse, Lateral
- Push - Push Ups, Overhead Press, Plank
- Pull - Rows, Pullups, Upright Row
Beginners start with just 1 - 2 sets, progressing to 2 - 4 sets
Always remember to do a total body warm-up before you start training. It is especially important to warm-up the specific muscle groups you are going to be using. This can be as simple as performing 5 - 10 minutes of low-intensity cardio and/or a set of high repetitions and light resistance of the exercise(s) you are about to perform. If you experience pain during a specific exercise, re-evaluate your routine to make sure you are performing the movements correctly and/or decrease the amount of resistance you are using. If you continue experiencing pain, stop immediately. Any continuation may aggravate an existing injury.
There you have it, the best way to exercise in 2017. The best way to get started is to avoid over-thinking and just do it! Start walking, riding your stationary bike or joining a group fitness class. Set a goal that you can live with and try to achieve that goal each week. For example, if two days a week of exercise is all you can handle in the beginning, then set that as your initial goal. Once your fitness level begins to improve, you can modify your goal to increase your exercise frequency and intensity to avoid fitness and weight loss plateaus.