I think it’s important for everyone to find balance in their workout routines. Incorporating a balance of strength training, cardio and stretching will give you the best results for fat burning and muscle toning.
Developing a strong cardio program can be relatively easy. While you may not care for cardio workouts, it’s not difficult to hop on a treadmill or take a spin class. These activities are sure to raise your heart rate and get you sweating. They key to a successful cardio workout is to find something you enjoy. If you hate running, don’t expect 45 minutes on a treadmill to go well.
Strength training can be a bit more challenging. If you’re not familiar with proper form there is a danger of injury so sticking to the machines is often a good starting point. Gyms often offer an orientation to the gym which includes walking you through the proper way to use the strength training equipment. If this isn’t available, or you need a refresher, many machines have instructions and pictures to educate you on how to use the machine and which muscles the exercises target.
If you are interested in adopting free weights into your workouts, I highly recommend initially working with a personal trainer. A trainer can show you the proper form and help you identify the correct weight to use for the various exercises. Make sure you are facing a mirror whenever working with free weights. This will help to ensure you hold proper form and can see what adjustments need to be made.
I often like to combine cardio bursts with my strength training which how I structure the majority of my BootCamp and Cardio Sculpt classes. I select 3 – 5 strength training moves and after completing 10 – 15 reps of each exercise I ramp up my heart rate with 3 – 5 minutes of cardio intervals. To give you an example:
Repeat the following for three sets
- Deadlift with upward row (15 reps)
- Alternate back lunge with hammer curl (10 reps each side)
- Squat with a shoulder press (15 reps)
- Tricep push-ups (10)
- Bicycle crunches (15 reps)
- Butt kicks, high knees, squat jack, alternate front kicks and fast feet (each exercise for 30 seconds and repeat)
Many people skip stretching as the final stage of their workout and that’s a big mistake. Stretching should be at least five minutes and all stretches should be held for 20 – 30 seconds. Increased flexibility and range of motion are just a couple of the many benefits of stretching.
How do you create balance with your workouts?
Having just come off an illness myself, I can say with confidence that “YES, being sick is a valid excuse for skipping a workout.”
Now believe me, I’m not one for excuses and as a trainer and a mom I have heard them ALL! But exercising while you are truly trying to fight off an illness is not a good idea and here’s why:
If you have a respiratory illness: further taxing your lungs and your heart with cardio can increase the severity of your symptoms. This is especially true if you engage in cardio activity in cold weather. If you are suffering from a respiratory illness you may want to consider a workout that incorporates stretching and light strength training.
If you have a stomach virus: your body may already be depleted of fluids so further exerting yourself could result in dehydration. The best thing to do with a stomach virus is to flush your body with fluids and take it easy. If you can bear to miss a workout, again stretching and light strength training are your best bet.
If you have a cold or flu: your body already aches and is weak so avoiding any type of exercise for a couple days is probably the best thing you can do to get on the track to feeling better. Get as much rest as possible.
With any illness make sure you listen to your body. You know when you truly don’t feel well enough to exercise and when you are just using it as a “poor” excuse to not exercise.
If you come down with anything this winter season, get your rest, drink plenty of fluids, and be sure to call your doctor if symptoms persist.
I’m happy to say after three days of rest and hydration, I’m looking forward to easing back into my routine with some stretching and light strength training.
I tried a new DVD workout today: Circuit training with Jackie Warner. Overall it’s a good workout.
She takes you through a series of three exercises for each region of the body. All you need is a set of dumbbells and a mat.
You can pick and choose what regions you want to work or run through the entire 40-minute routine.
If you are a beginner I would recommend that you not worry about keeping up with the pace of the exercises but rather concentrate on your form. As you get stronger and used to the exercises you will be able to increase your pace.
My one criticism is that the stretching portion of the video following the workout is far too short. The stretches aren’t held nearly long enough for the maximum benefit. I would recommend doing additional stretching on your own after completing the DVD.