Through the years there have been many training trends. Nautilus, Bodybuilding, H.I.T., Tai Bo, ZUMBA, Aerobics, Pilates, Spin, and P90X and now CrossFit are some of the latest. With many different training methods available, the general public is confused on what they should do vs. what works best for them. The novice gym goer tends to rely on friends to tell them the best way to train. However, one person’s success doesn’t ensure another’s when it comes to fitness and your body. The best workouts are ones that aid diversity, are comprehensive and cover the Six Components of fitness: Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Cardiovascular Endurance, Core Strength, Flexibility and Body Fat Composition.
To build strength you have to progressively overload your muscles by performing strength training exercises with free weights, machines or dumbbells. The load and intensity must be high enough to elicit a training effect or you will not build muscle. Keep in mind, building muscle will help speed up your metabolism and burn body fat. You cannot burn body fat by focusing on cardiovascular exercise alone. People are restricted everyday by the belief that cardiovascular exercise is the only way to burn fat. That is false. To get results you must combine strength with cardio and the best way to maximize the effect of your cardio is through strength training and lifting weights.
This is your muscles ability to perform repeated contractions over time. Work Capacity Circuits, DB Complexes, Bar Complexes, Circuit Training and High Volume Training are the best ways to achieve this goal. The best workouts incorporate a combination of both muscular endurance and strength training. It’s great for the body and allows the body to keep guessing when working out, which in-turn minimizes plateauing.
I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to flexibility because stretching is far from exciting.
I don’t know many people who get excited about performing a stretching routine but it’s an essential part of your workout. The older you get the more important flexibility becomes because adults are less active than teenagers, young adults and youth. This doesn’t mean you go out and take the most intense Yoga or Pilates class because there is great potential to hurt yourself. Some sort of mobility exercises should be performed everyday in order to keep your body working the way it is supposed to. Most people are very tight in their hips and thoracic spine because they sit too much. A good dynamic mobility program should always be performed before you start your exercise (foam rolling, dynamic movement, self massage) and a static stretch, which calms down your nervous system, should be per- formed at the end of your workout to aid in muscle recovery.
I added this component of fitness because I think it’s the most neglected and misunderstood. There are 6 ways to train your core flexion, stability, bridging, rotation, anti-rotation and medicine ball training. Most people only do flexion, which are crunches and sit-ups. I never do flexion exercises because in life we are always in flexion from sitting, working on computers, using our phones and watching
TV. Core exercises in my opinion have to fight flexion of your body. Planks (stability), Med Ball Spikes, Hip Thrust (bridging), Opposite Shoulder Touches (Anti-Rotation) are great ways to train your core. A strong core protects your body from injury, allows you to maximize your body’s strength and have great posture.
Cardio Vascular Endurance
This is the most controversial component of fitness. Most people believe running long distance is the best way to achieve cardio vascular endurance. I firmly disagree. CVE should be performed in a numerous amount of ways. Sprint Interval Training, Work Capacity Circuits, Biking, Swimming and playing a sport are much better for your body than running long distance alone. Sprinting incorporates more muscles and requires more energy than running long distance. It’s also much shorter in duration so there is less pounding on your body compared to distance running. Millions of people run long distance every day and swear by the results however long distance running eats muscle while sprinting requires your large muscles(Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Core and Back) to be fully engaged and strong. Look at a sprinters body and compare it to a long distance runner’s. Which one looks more powerful and has more muscle? Repeated sprints, and agility drills are a great way to build cardiovascular endurance plus the drills are fun and different which the body and mind love.
Body fat percentage is simply the ration of body fat to total muscle in your body. Many people think a person’s weight is the best predictor of health- related illness, but in fact a persons body fat is the best indicator. A man could weigh 220lbs but have only 12% body fat, classifying him as very healthy. Another man could weigh 190lbs and have 22% body fat and he would be classified as unhealthy. Men should have a body fat under >17% and women should have body fat >24%. You cannot out train a bad diet. Eating clean, eating smart, eating a balanced diet and reducing your sugar intake achieve body fat reduction.
If you incorporate exercises from each component of fitness you will be able to design a sound workout program and that will allow you to achieve your goals.