If you're a beginner or are confused by the excess of information available today, this blog is to help make the process simple. The work isn't easy, but putting together a plan can be a breeze.
There are several components of fitness that everyone needs to address for a well-balanced approach to exercise. They are:
1) Cardiovascular Conditioning: basically anything that gets
the heart rate up (i.e. walking, cycling, swimming,
dancing, aerobics classes, etc.)
2) Muscular Strength/Endurance: in general terms this
usually represents resistence training using machines,
free weights, body weight, tubing, medicine balls, etc.
3) Flexibility: this refers to exercises that increase or
maintain range of motion in a joint (i.e. yoga, Tai Chi,
All of these elements have a direct impact on our body composition (basically the proportion of "lean" tissue and fat). Ways to measure body composition include % body fat, BMI, and the good old fashioned tape measure.
Our workout program needs to have all three elements to be well-rounded. In general, you want to achieve a minimum of 3 30-60 minute cardiovascular sessions per week, at least 2 weight-bearing exercises sessions per muscle group per week and stretch as often as possible (usually after a workout when the muscles are warm).
A sample weekly schedule might look like this:
Monday: 20 minutes upper body workout, 30 minutes of cardio, and 10 minutes stretching
Tuesay: 20 minutes lower body workout, 30 minutes of cardio and 10 minutes of stretching
Wednesday: 30 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of stretching
Thursday: 20 minutes of upper body workout, 30 minutes of cardio, and 10 minutes of stretching
Friday: 20 minutes of lower body workout, 30 minutes of cardio and 10 minutes of stretching
Naturally each individual must examine their schedule and what will work for them.
The final piece to this puzzle is good nutrition. LEAVE FAD DIETS ALONE!! I believe there is a reason the word "diet" starts with "die". Sensible eating isn't hard! Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Carbs are not the enemy! Processed, refined products are not the best choices, but whole oats (i.e. not instant oatmeal), pearled barley, quinoa, etc. should be a part of everyone's daily eating. Also, choose heart healthy fats such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, and those found in fish and nuts. Essentially, if you can limit the amount of processed foods you consume and eat in more than you eat out, you'll be ahead of the game!
Take a few minutes with your planner and schedule time for exercise. Then think about what you've got in your pantry and refrigerator. Is it going to help or harm your success? Get rid of the junk and put in whole foods to maximize your success. Good luck!
If infomercial products really worked, we'd all be fit! The ONLY 100% proven effective way to lose weight and stay in shape is to eat right and exercise regularly. There are NO substitutes! Getting (and staying) in shape requires planning and purpose. We have to carve out time to exercise from an already busy day and we have to plan our meals so we don't lapse into drive-through scrambles or restaurant gluttony. The hardest part about this change is making it a habit, but like all learned skills, it gets easier with time. Don't put it off any longer! Get up and get started RIGHT NOW.