So winter is here! This morning here in Melbourne was the first morning where I have had to defrost my car! But if like everyone else out there you are wanting to look your best in your bikinis or boardies this summer now is the time to get started with an exercise plan.
First of all, congratulations: making the decision to get in shape is the first step to improving your health and both your physical and psychological wellbeing.
Secondly, where do you start? With so many different varieties of exercise to choose from, how do you know which one is best for you, and which you are most likely to stick with?
This post will explain some of the most popular exercise techniques, to help you make an informed decision on which type of exercise is best for you. With any option a personal trainer is a great idea to get things personalised specifically for you and what you are wanting to get out of the program.
Cardiovascular Training: While the name may sound tricky, this is probably the simplest training method of them all. Popular forms include running, bike riding, walking, swimming and rowing, but are not limited to these. Cardiovascular training has virtually no boundaries so long as the activity increases your heart rate and makes you huff and puff: that is cardio.
Resistance Training: This is the process of lifting against a resistance. That resistance may come from gravity, your body-weight, a partner, or an object (i.e. weights). The lifts are performed in a number of sets (usually between 1-5), with each set having a number of repetitions (usually between 8-15). The aim of resistance training is to increase strength and build muscle. One of the biggest misconceptions about weight training is that it will make even females bulky; this is NOT TRUE. Unless you have abnormally high testosterone levels or are ingesting absurd quantities of steroids, females cannot bulk up. But the increases in muscle and strength you do get can help you in daily activities as well as increase the amount of calories you burn even when you are sitting on the couch. Just be sure to have a qualified person instruct you on correct technique before commencing a resistance training program.
Boxing: Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to involve getting into a ring and having someone beat the stuffing out of you. Boxing is an excellent form of cardiovascular training that is capable of providing an awesome full body workout. The aim of boxing is to punch an object, whether it be the air, balls, bags or focus mitts (with a partner). The punching doesn’t need to be powerful. Soft, rapid punches are just as good a workout. The parts of your body most likely to get sore are your arms and shoulders, as they are the limbs that are predominantly used for boxing. In order to rest these you may want to consider also performing some kicking exercises on a bag, or even some running.
Pilates: This form of exercise has become extremely popular in the last few years. It focuses on improving flexibility and strengthening the overall body. Pilates is not an intense workout, but many people, especially those new to Pilates, can find it very strenuous. Most Pilates classes are conducted on mats on the floor using exercises that incorporate stretching for your abdominal, leg, arm and back muscles, as well as resistance exercises using gravity and your own body-weight to create the resistance. While it is a great strengthening and core conditioning routine, it is recommended that to lose weight this is done along with cardiovascular training.
Yoga: This has many similar aspects to Pilates as it requires participants to lie on a mat on the floor and perform a number of different stretches, while concentrating on breathing patterns and stretching further. Again it is a fairly gentle form of exercise and should be used in conjunction with other exercise methods for best results, but it is a great way to relax after a hard day.
Bootcamp: Not for the faint hearted; this is a high intensity exercise regime that will leave you physically exhausted at the end of a session. These classes are usually very popular in the lead up to summer but be warned they are designed to bear similarities to army training conditions and push participants to their physical limits. This is great for getting fast results but not something you would include in a long term exercise plan (especially if you don’t like getting yelled at).
Hopefully you are now better informed on a few of the various forms of exercise out there, and making a decision on which best suits you and your goals is a little easier. Just remember you are not limited to one form of exercise; combine as many as you like to keep your program fun and get great results.
GOOD LUCK and happy exercising.