Not all exercise is created equally. Let’s face it, you’re probably not going to boost your muscle mass by doing yoga each day. You also likely won’t gain weight by running on a treadmill.
It’s important to understand that different people have different fitness goals. Exercise isn’t always about just losing weight. For some, it’s about boosting their body image by staying in motion. For others, it’s about toning up to feel strong. You might even be passionate about tying your beliefs and passions into your workout routines by including things like meditation or focusing on workouts that are more eco-friendly.
Whatever your fitness goals might be, doing the right forms of exercise will help you to reach them much faster and more efficiently. So, whether you want to bulk up, slim down, or just feel healthier, what types of exercises should you be doing?
If You Want to Lose Weight …
Weight loss isn’t the only reason people exercise, but it’s a big one. Of course, it takes more than just working out to lose weight. It takes the right nutrition plan that should include things like:
- Healthy fats
- Lean protein
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nutrient-dense carbs
Eating right, combined with effective workouts can help to boost your metabolism and cause you to lose weight faster. One of the best ways to lose weight is to take part in cardiovascular exercises. That includes everything from running and swimming to cycling and hiking. Cardio exercises help to boost your heart rate and get your blood pumping faster, so your body burns more calories.
Using weight training can make your body more efficient at burning those calories, too, since your muscles will work for you, even when you’re not actively working out.
With any workout routine you choose, be patient. The three big rocks of health are:
You need to keep all three in mind on your weight loss journey. It doesn’t happen overnight, just like you didn’t gain weight overnight. Remain consistent with your workouts, put in 100% effort, and be adaptable if things don’t always go according to plan. Eventually, you will start to see the results you want.
If You Want to Tone …
If you’re more interested in gaining muscle or getting stronger, you’ll also have to be patient. Lifting weights is one of the best ways to tone, but you have to start small and increase the amount of weight you’re using as you get stronger. Someone who consistently lifts weights for three hours each week and follows a ‘bulking’ diet will still probably only gain anywhere from 4-15 pounds each year. The longer you keep up with that routine, the less you will gain each year. How long it takes to build muscle depends on several factors, including:
- Training experience
Your strength-building workout routines should include high-intensity reps and rest periods. You should also be ‘training to failure,’ which refers to doing as many reps as you can until your body can’t do another. While that isn’t something you should do on every set, it can be alternated in your training sessions to increase your strength and give you a visual representation of your progress.
When you’re working out with weights, you are more susceptible to injury. If you start using heavier weights, it’s important to always have someone with you to “spot” you. Someone knowledgable with strength training will make sure you’re using proper form and that you don’t hurt yourself.
Beware of Bandwagons
Just like there are dozens of “fad diets” out there, there are also exercise fads that seem to come and go. Not all of them are bad, and many of them are extremely effective. But, it’s important to be able to recognize what works with what is just a gimmick.
Most “fad” workouts consist of extremes or make promises that seem too good to be true. Many of them also include specialized products (ThighMaster, anyone?) that often cost a lot of money.
There are even exercises that have been around for thousands of years that are jumping on different bandwagons to appear fresh. For example, yoga is a great way to gain flexibility and strength. It can improve your core and help your posture, as well. In recent years, however, things like hot yoga and even goat yoga have become increasingly popular. While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with these trends, it’s important to stay focused on what the basis of the original exercise really is.
No matter what your fitness goals are, there is an exercise routine that is perfect for you. Don’t be afraid to try different things and learn more about the science of different workouts. The more you educate yourself on how exercise impacts your body, the more you will be able to tailor your workouts to fit your specific goals.
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