Exercise the whole you!

2014March04_ExerciseGeneral_AWant killer abs? Less excess baggage? Or to be able to run a marathon? There’s nothing wrong with having really specific fitness goals, and in fact clarity can help illuminate the way forward and allow for an effective exercise strategy to be set in motion. However, to create overall fitness, rather than focusing on one set style of training you need real variety to exercise the whole you!

It’s not unusual to want to improve your general fitness, rather than focus solely on one aim. And certainly, if you really hone in on one physical area or one style of training then this can lead to muscle imbalance, which brings with it limitations and instability. To really tackle your general fitness you need a healthy mix to work your whole body in every way.

  • Cardio: Working up a bit of a sweat is necessary if you want to really burn fat and boost your cardiovascular system then you need to be working out at an aerobic rate. If you want to know what this is on a technical level then this is 60-80% of your MHR (maximum heart rate). In other words, at a level where you could still talk to someone during an activity.

  • HIIT: High intensity interval training is the latest popular style of training and basically involves incredibly intense short bursts of exercise followed by short rest periods. The idea is to really set your body into fat burning mode and recovery so that you benefit from a post-exercise burn too.

  • Anaerobic: HIIT is a form or anaerobic exercise. In general, this level of working out is measured at 80% + of your MHR. Your body works out at such a rate that the demand for oxygen is at its highest, which can improve your cardio and respiratory fitness levels. This type of training is more about muscle strength and endurance.

  • Strength: It is old-fashioned, and inaccurate, to think of strength training as simply weightlifting that is going to bulk you up. The reality is that if you combine cardio and strength training you will boost your fat burning by creating stronger muscles which require more energy. Your body naturally loses muscle mass so you need to maintain your muscle strength with quality resistance training.

  • Endurance: If you want to improve your stamina and build up your fitness performance then some kind of endurance training is necessary. This can help condition your cardiovascular system, increasing oxygen and blood flow, so that you can push yourself harder for longer.

  • Core work: Your core is where it is at. The central muscles that stretch from the abs up the back provide the stability and strength you need to perform movements in everyday life. You may find that working your core gives you fantastic abs too, but core work is not just aesthetic and the benefits of exercises radiating out from a strong core cannot be stressed strongly enough.

  • Stretching: As well as building up strength and exercising to improve your cardiovascular system, you also need to keep supple and flexible with some good stretches. This improves your range of motion, allowing your stronger, leaner body to move more freely. Greater flexibility also helps your posture and protects against injuries when you exercise, as well as helping reduce soreness in muscles post-exercise.

  • Circuits: It’s important not only to progress with training but to mix it up as well. Circuits can be a great way to keep the body guessing with exercises that avoid muscle imbalance and fitness plateaus with some quality muscle confusion. You can also make sure that every part of you is challenged.

  • Plyometrics: These are often jumping and hopping style exercises which increase your muscular power by resistance that stretches the muscle and quickly shortens it. Plyometrics adds the power to the strength to boost explosiveness through dynamic resistance.

  • Warm-up & cool-down: A dynamic warm-up, as opposed to static stretches, coordinates your muscles to really fire up your central nervous system. It means that you can hit your training effectively and more safely, and there is also evidence that the impact of your training is more impressive too. A cool-down lets your heart rate slow down in a more gradual way, helping the blood flow and preventing blood pooling in the muscles which can cause dizziness if you suddenly stop exercising vigorously. It also helps remove toxins from the muscles such as lactic acid.

As well as incorporating at least some, if not all of these exercise style into your workouts, you also need a quality nutritional plan to support your physical exertions and fitness aims. What’s also vital is that you are focused on proper form for each exercise, are motivated, and are working out for the right amount of time. This is where a fitness expert and program can really help. To exercise the whole you get in touch!

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