Hey world, and happy Friday (or whatever day you read this)!!!
"Yo Rob……what's the best workout??". (-most people once they find out I'm in to fitness)
Well..……..there isn't one. There are a lot of factors that go in to ensuring a workout is best for you (age, gender, workout experience, past injuries, metabolic conditions, etc). BUT there is one thing that remains consistent, and that is the best structure of a workout.
So today I'll break it down for you!
2. Dynamic stretching and activation.
3. Resistance training
4. Cardiovascular training
5. Cool down
6. Static stretching.
If you want to blow a bubble with a piece of chewing gum, you have to chew the gum first and make it warm and pliable. Right? Well the same goes for your muscles when you exercise. Don't chew on them….but make them warm and pliable!!
The warm-up should last 5-10 minutes and get more intense with each minute. It should elevate the heart rate and open up the lungs. For the workout to be MOST effective the body must be fully primed and ready to go, otherwise the beginning bulk of the workout will be compromised as the body is still warming up (aka you're wasting your time and energy). So, avoid all that, and get your heart up to 75-100% of your maximum heart rate by the end of your warm-up.
Here's the equation to help you find that range:
75% = (220 - your age) x .75.
100% = 220 - your age.
Now that the muscles have some heat you want to start to elongate them!
Dynamic stretches (as the name alludes to) involve movement rather than just holds. It's important to keep the body moving after elevating the heart rate, so avoid static stretching in this window. The purpose of dynamic stretching and activation is to elongate the muscles, increase the fluidity and elasticity of the tendons and ligaments, increase range of motion in the joints, and activate the central nervous system.
Pick 5-7 exercises targeting the muscles you'll use in the workout. Number of repetitions depends on the exercise. Perform the first few repetitions at a small range of motion, then get progressively bigger with each rep. Do as many rounds as you need until you feel loose (generally 2-3 rounds).
Side note: I like to incorporate an element of balance somewhere in here! It's good for the brain!
OK…body is ready to go…..now what?!
Resistance training should typically be the first bulk of your workout. The purpose is to build muscle tissue in the body. You must stress the muscle to the point of exhaustion and/or small micro-fiber tearing in order for it to grow -- hence high intense bodyweight exercises or weight lifting.
The obvious benefits are you get stronger, and your muscles look better. (BUST OUT THE SWIMSUIT!!). The added benefit is that muscles use more energy, so you will burn calories at a much higher rate in everything you do every single day. Leaving more room for my favorite food…..COOKIES!!!
Weight lifting requires mostly carbohydrates from an energy standpoint, so you want to do it BEFORE your cardio. Pick 5-7 exercises. Exercise selection, sets, repetitions, and rest period are determined by which phase of your workout you are in, but a safe bet is always total body emphasis with 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions with a 45 second rest period.
Now that we've exhausted the small muscles we have to go for the BOSS muscles…in the heart and lungs.
Cardiovascular training increases the efficiency of the heart and lungs. Especially as we get older. It also helps strengthen certain muscles, and can be a good way to burn extra calories if/when done properly. Don't just do a ton of cardio and expect to lose all of your body fat….that's not the point of it, and it's not that simple.
The general recommendation for cardio training is 150 minutes of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity spread between 3-5 days per week. Split it up however you would like!!
There are two primary forms: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Low Intensity Steady State (LISS), each with their own benefits. I'll review these in depth in a future article. But know that both should be built in to your workout plan!
WOO HOO! WORKOUT DONE!!!.................almost.
Don't do it.......DON'T SKIP YOUR COOL DOWN. This is your body's opportunity to return to normal resting state safely. It allows the heart to return to resting heart rate, the lungs to return to normal breathing rate, your blood flow to resume normal circulation, and the excess heat to leave the body.
Spend 5-7 minutes moving at a slow pace: jogging, walking, side shuffle, ride bike, elliptical, etc. Light/easy dynamic stretching is also good to do during this time.
Imagine snapping a rubber band - it stretches long then instantly returns to normal size (and hurts like hell if you snap it against your skin......but that's beside the point). If, however, you hold it for a long time multiple days and weeks in a row, then it will start losing tension and getting longer.
Your muscles essentially work the same way. There's a sensor in them that requires you to hold a stretch for more than 20 seconds before the brain is signaled to release and allow the muscle to elongate. It's a great protection mechanism….it's rough if you're starting Yoga or a stretching program for the first time. LOL.
Pick 5-7 stretches for muscles you used in the workout. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, release for 3-5 seconds, then repeat 2-3 times per stretch. Breathe deep. That's pretty important too!
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT!!!!!
The PERFECT workout structure!
Let me know if you have any questions!
Next time I'll write about my favorite go-to exercises for the first phase of working out for anyone new or returning to fitness. I also use these exercises in my own programming prior to pre-season training!!
Have a blessed day!!
And share this with someone who may need help structuring a workout!