The good thing about workout programs is they’re individual and not universal. We all differ in fitness level, personality, lifestyle, and goals. Taking this into consideration, selecting the right workout program is an important part of our fitness journey. There’s a wide-variety of exercise modalities available to accommodate every individual and lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned athlete or newbie fitness enthusiast, there’s something for everyone. The best and most effective workout is one that you do consistently, enjoy, and works with your lifestyle and goals.
Selecting the right workout program can be a challenge with all the different options available. A helpful tool in choosing the best exercise plan is writing down your health and fitness goals. Are you an active adult or athlete who wants to increase exercise intensity or a beginner with a desire to lose a few pounds? What about a bodybuilder trying to increase lean mass or an individual struggling with flexibility? Whatever your fitness goal, there are specific workout programs supplying these benefits.
Once your fitness goals are defined, choosing an exercise program becomes simplified. The next step includes understanding the definition, purpose, and benefits of each workout modality. The following popular exercise programs are shown to be effective for health and fitness improvement:
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become one of the most popular training methods. What makes this exercise program so appealing is being able to complete a workout in a short period of time. According to research, HIIT is a time efficient strategy to improve our health and fitness and cuts our exercise training in half.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is also referred to as high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) or sprint interval training (SIT). HIIT is a vigorous form of exercise combining interval training and cardiovascular exercise. As a participant of HIIT, you would be challenging your body with low and high-intensity work. An example would be performing a maximum sprint for 100 yards followed by a few seconds of light jogging or walking to recover. The workout duration is typically 30 minutes or to exercise exhaustion.
Research indicates high-intensity interval training is effective for reducing body fat, improving athletic performance, and flexibility. However, due to the extreme challenge on the body, some studies show it may not be the best fit for inactive individuals beginning a fitness program. In this instance, HIIT could be a progressive program implemented later once fitness and activity levels have increased. It appears to be highly favorable for active adults and athletes taking their workouts to the next level.
Strength or resistance training is another popular and effective exercise modality. This form of exercise is designed to improve muscular fitness by challenging a muscle or muscle group using external resistance. External resistance can include free weights, resistance bands, or cable machines for example. Strength training can be modified to the fitness level of an individual making it a superior workout option.
Resistance training is the preferred method of exercise for bodybuilders to increase muscle strength and size. It’s also favored among new exercisers and active adults who desire to improve muscle tone and stimulate fat loss. The program is best performed using a progressive style increasing in weight resistance, sets, and repetitions as muscular strength is increased. Beginners may find it easier to start with machines before moving into more complex free-weight exercises. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training at least two non-consecutive days per week for optimal results.
Besides being one of the most versatile and enjoyed ways to exercise among the general population, strength training is indicated to provide numerous health benefits. Chronic research has shown regular resistance training to reduce our risk of heart disease by lowering body fat. It’s also said to increase our metabolism, decrease blood pressure, increase bone density, and improve cholesterol levels.
Bodyweight training or exercises take us back to the basics and a great workout option for individuals without access to gym equipment. This method of training uses body weight as the resistance to build muscular strength, lean mass, endurance, and flexibility. Bodyweight training is considered the ‘no gym, no excuses’ workout program you can perform anywhere.
Bodyweight training is still considered strength training and accomplished without free weights or machines. Another bonus to this program is no gym membership fee and time efficient because it can be done right at home.
Popular body weight training exercises include pull-ups, push-ups, crunches, planks, and squats. Advanced movements incorporate handstands and strength holds. Bodyweight training is very challenging but is easily modified to accommodate any fitness level. It is also shown to have a reduced risk of personal injury compared to weighted exercise.
Group training is an excellent workout choice for those who like the push of being in an exercise class environment. This mode of exercise is led by an instructor and performed by a group of individuals. Gyms or boot camps commonly offer modified versions to exercise accommodating all fitness levels. This makes for a fun, active and social exercise experience.
Group training formats can include muscle conditioning, body pump, yoga, Pilates, step, and kickboxing. The wide variety of class options creates an ever-changing workout atmosphere helpful to avoid burnout. Also, the classes are typically well-structured, effective, and completed within a one-hour duration.
Working out with friends is another way to describe group training. When we exercise with others, it provides an accountability factor not given when we train alone. Group settings are shown to keep us motivated and interested. This is important for continued success and maintaining our fitness.
Yoga is considered holistic therapy with the purpose of creating strength, awareness, balance, and harmony within the mind and body. There are many disciplines of this exercise method, one of the most popular being Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga focuses on physical applications to strengthen the body along with exercises to center the mind. This practice also emphasizes proper nutrition to detoxify the body and breathing techniques supporting relaxation.
Yoga includes physical posturing to strengthen the body, increase flexibility, promote relaxation, and enhance our concentration. Research indicates yoga as a safe way to exercise to improve physical function along with mental and social well-being. It’s also indicated to help with stress-relief, improved energy, and vitality.
Regular exercise is an important part of achieving and maintaining our health and fitness. The great news is we have options in what works best for us, our body, and individual goals. Research indicates strength, aerobic, and flexibility training should be included in a well-balanced exercise program. Providing this variety is something to keep in mind while planning the best workout routine for you. Many individuals opt to include a supplement program along with their exercise routine. Certain supplements, such as whey protein, are shown to benefit workout recovery. This or other supplements can also be beneficial but it’s always a good idea to discuss with your doctor.
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