How much exercise and what type do you need to accomplish your goals?
Trying to lose weight? Gain muscle mass? Just be a healthier person? All of these goals require proper planning and understanding of how certain forms of exercise affect the body. Since a lot of people are jumping right into their fitness resolutions this year I’ve been asked to clarify on what types of exercise and how much is crucial to reach these goals. Below I’ve written a brief explanation of the types of exercise I believe are most important in any exercise program and how you can utilize them to make your own training plan.
There is multiple types of cardiovascular training but two types that should be in your plan for best results are high intensity intervals and long slow distance. The combination of these is important for any training plan.
This type of cardio consists of short fast bursts of power followed by a recovery period. The purpose is to spike your heart rate higher than it could be during a normal long run to over train heart rate and body. These types of workouts usually are less than 30 minutes. The primary muscle fibers used during this type of training are Type 2 fast twitch fibers, which use energy called ATP made by the mitochondria in the muscles to perform. This ATP power producer is known as the anaerobic system, and it causes your body to burn fat for 24-48 hours after you finish your training.
Any cardio performed at a steady heart rate for 30+ minutes is considered long slow distance. The primary muscle type used during this cardio is Type 1 slow twitch fibers which uses primarily oxygen. This type of cardio burns fat during your workout which is why its important to do no less than 30 minutes at a heart rate in the fat burning zone, which is 60-70% of your max heart rate.
Strength training in this case is considered resistance training. For something to be called resistance training your body has to resist an added stressor. Think weight lifting. Your body’s job is to resist the weight crushing you to the ground. When you practice resistance training your muscles break down and with proper recovery rebuild stronger than before; hence it gets the name strength training. Strength training is important for bone, muscle and cardiovascular health but its claim to fame when adding it into your training plan is the spike in your body’s metabolism since muscle burns more calories at rest than fat.
This can be broken down in different forms, from yoga to pilates to barre. Flexibility is extremely important because it gives the muscles the ability to move through a full range of motion. When the body is unable to move through its full range of motion, injury is more likely to occur.
So the question is, how much of what should you do? Since all components mentioned above should be in a structured training plan, we have to look at what goals each person has, what fits into their schedule, and to me the biggest thing is how your body recovers.
The biggest thing I see as a trainer is people tend to put more on their plate than their bodies can handle.
At first, this will bring quick results. Those results though are usually not sustainable over the long term. The whole goal of exercise is to break down muscle tissue to rebuild it during rest to make it stronger. Overloading yourself with too many workouts will end up having the opposite of the desired effect since your muscles will never have time to rebuild.
That being said, incorporating all three aspects of fitness (cardio, strength training, and flexibility) can be done in a safe and effective manner if it is properly planned out.
First you need to pick your training goal. Is it to lose weight, gain lean muscle, become more flexible, or maintain your current weight? Whichever goal it is you want to make one type of training your main focus and use the others to supplement.
Goal: Lose weight-Primary training focus: Cardio and Strength Training
(Yes you can have two focuses to hit your goal)
Monday: HIIT cardio
Tuesday: High Intensity Strength Training (Scorch Class)
Thursday: HIIT Cardio + High Intensity Strength Training (Scorch Class)
Friday: High Intensity Strength Training (Scorch Class)
Saturday: 30+ minutes long slow distance
In this example were using cardio and strength training as the primary source of exercise to focus on a calorie burn during and after the workout. Adding in three days of strength training will help build lean muscle, which burns body fat at rest as well. Combing both types of cardio gives the body two different ways to burn fat and incorporating a yoga class at the end of the week will promote flexibility and recovery before the next week of training begins. This example is for someone who has already been exercising for 1-2 months and is ready to step up their weight loss program.
If your goal is to gain more muscle mass, you would sub out some of the cardio for more strength training work, and if your goal is to become more flexible you would try to incorporate at least 3 days of flexibility training. It really is as simple as that. The goal though is to listen to your body and not overdo it. As soon as you feel like your body is starting to fight back at you with fatigue, poor sleep quality and stalled weight loss then you need to take a few rest days and focus on eating healthy meals and quality sleep to let your body heal.
This topic could be much more in depth and those of you who are Scorch Fitness members are always welcome to schedule an assessment at the gym to plan out your own training plan based around your goals.
Always remember to have fun with your plan as well; no fitness plan is worth excessive stress and anxiety.