But after working as a coach for more than 10 years, I’ve seen how finding the right routine can help a client meet her goals.
So, let’s talk about how you can find the right program in which every workout challenges you to get you the results you seek.
What Factors Matter?
Put some thought into how you need to start working out! Trust me, it will save you wasted time and finances in the end if you don’t just run out and buy one of the most popular workout programs they are advertising on late-night TV.
You’ve done that before, and now those DVDs are getting dusty sitting in storage because you bought them but never got around to building your buns of steel.
Stop fooling yourself!
Consider the following when planning for your unique fitness program.
Do you want to lift heavy things, run long races, make cool shapes with your body, just feel better, look good naked?
What are your personal fitness goals? Not your mom’s, not your sister’s, not your husband’s, YOUR personal fitness goals!
What time do you have? What time can you CREATE?
Seriously, if you have a goal you need to create time to work at it. Put a pen to paper and figure it out.
Put your plan on paper. Not only does it look pretty, but writing it down helps you commit to it. And that’s the trick. You also have to DO IT! No plan works if you don’t work the plan.
Kids, hubby, aging parents, pets, you name it, what are your obligations? Because they can throw a wrench in even the most well-intended fitness program.
How will you minimize your risk of being tempted away from your personal health goals?
This one is my favorite! SO many times we pretend that our 9-5 is the reason we can’t reach our goals. It takes up all of our time, drains us of our energy, and causes WAY too much unnecessary stress.
But have you put any thought to how you can creatively use that time to simultaneously work on YOU?
Bathroom break? Do 20 squats. Lunch break? Take an easy walk. Sitting at your desk? Complete a few of the Chairs to You workouts available in the LadyBoss® Pocket Personal Trainer!
Access to facilities/equipment
Do you have a gym nearby and time to commute? If not, you might need to consider a program you can do from home.
Does your home or gym have the equipment you need for your program? If not, how can you make adjustments to still work toward the same results?
Types of Fitness Programs
Cardiorespiratory Endurance Programs
Training the cardiovascular system for endurance can be done through various types of movement in which your heart rate is elevated to 60-80% maximum heart rate for a duration of 20 minutes or greater.
Activities like walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing or any combination of these would be considered training options for cardiorespiratory endurance.
Additional training options for these activities would include continuous, fartlek, and interval programming.
For a cardio program of continuous training, you might choose to walk at a steady pace continuously for 30 minutes every day during your lunch break at work. This activity would be an example of a cardiorespiratory endurance program. Similarly, you might choose to use the recumbent bike at your local gym to pedal consistently at a set intensity and time.
For a cardio program of Fartlek Training, you decide the duration and intensity of the activity. Runners World describes fartlek to be “unlike continuous training and interval work. Fartlek is unstructured and alternates between moderate to hard efforts with easy efforts throughout. After a warm-up, you play with speed by running at faster efforts for short periods of time (to that tree, to the sign) followed by easy-effort running to recover. The goal is to keep it free-flowing so you’re untethered to the watch or a plan, and to run at harder efforts but not a specific pace.”
For a cardio program of Interval Training, you train with consistent intervals of high and low intensity for a decided period of time greater than 20 minutes for cardio programs.
For example, you might row for an easy pace of 2 minutes, followed by a 1-minute row at an increased intensity and then continue alternating this 2 minutes of easy/1 minute of increased intensity for the duration of your workout.
For more cardio endurance training options try one of these fun class activities at a local gym: dance fitness, spinning, or kickboxing, just to name a few!
Strength Training Programs
Strength training offers a wide variety of possible combinations for training whether you are in the gym or at home.
As long as you complete the exercises with the proper form and load for you, strength training is an overall key health component for everyone! Many women (and men) sacrifice proper lifting form and technique in order to lift a heavier amount of weight or complete more repetitions after muscle fatigue.
For my clients, the easy answer to this is to send a video of themselves completing the exercise or send me a quick message asking how to do it.
If you aren’t working with a coach, *ahem* we are amazing!
But if you aren’t yet, be sure to seek help from a trained professional at your gym or use the LadyBoss® Pocket Personal Trainer to watch video explainers before performing the exercise.
Free Weights: Barbells and Dumbbells
Strength training programs often incorporate a delicate balance of weight training using both barbells and dumbbells.
An individual’s training program goals will dictate the training frequency, intensity, exercise types, loads, number of sets and repetitions, and rest intervals.
For example, you might witness a bodybuilding competitor focusing on dumbbell exercises with lower weights, performing more repetitions. Or you might see a powerlifter focusing on lifting heavy loads for as few as 3 repetitions at a time before resting for up to 3 minutes.
That’s why you should talk with a trained professional to help you decide which strength training program will best help you reach your goals.
Barbell exercise programs are awesome for gym-goers as well as those of us working out at home. With just a long bar (usually weighing 45 pounds, although some gyms have fancy alternative options that might weigh 25-55 pounds) and some weighted plates, you can execute an entire strength training program!
The advantage of barbell training: “no muscle left behind!” Barbells are classified as free weights, meaning they are “free moving.” For you, that means that in addition to working your booty during a squat, you’ll also engage all sorts of stabilizing muscles at the same time!
Dumbbell exercise programs offer tons of variety for strength training programs. They are often incorporated into boot camp and cross-fit type workouts because they allow each participant to choose the appropriate weight for their individual needs.
Dumbbell training programs are useful for targeting specific muscles and muscle groups as well as working on muscle imbalances from one side of the body to the other.
Fixed Weights: Smith Machines, Cable Machines, Hydraulic Resistance Exercise Machines
Gyms will typically offer a wide variety of muscle isolation machines. These machines are a huge advantage to someone new or inexperienced because they help remove some of the risk associated with poor lifting form or technique by providing a set motion for the user to perform an exercise.
Smith machines have a fixed range of motion for the barbell which might eliminate the natural movement pattern for exercises performed with a free-weight barbell, but this creates security and reduces (not eliminates) risk of injury from improper lifting form and technique. Because the smith machine has a fixed range of motion, it does substantially reduce the need for stabilizing muscle recruitment. But the increased safety is worth the trade-off! On the flip side, this also means that you can train your targeted muscle to failure or near failure without risk of the stabilizing muscles exhausting first and impeding your training efforts for your larger muscle groups.
Fixed Resistance Exercise Machines look big and scary to most new gym-goers fearful of looking silly trying to set up and use them correctly. Most machines will have one or two exercises you can perform. However scary these machines might look, they are the safest choice for anyone new to strength training. They also are the ideal choice for isolating specific muscles while providing adequate resistance to the muscle and support at the joints.
Cable machines include a weight stack attached to a cable that winds through a series of pulleys to provide steady resistance during an exercise.
Cable machines make it easy to change between exercises and resistances quickly. They also make it convenient to isolate and train a muscle or muscle group using steady resistance with proper form through the full range of motion.
Most cable machine exercises can be replicated using resistance tubing. However, the resistance of the tubing changes from easy to harder as the resistance band is stretched.
When using cable machines, the resistance is constant throughout the entire movement of the exercise. Both, change in resistance and constant resistance, can be an advantage to your strength training program depending on your training needs.
Bodyweight strength training programs can be incredibly effective in building muscle. The key to a solid bodyweight strength training program is proper bodyweight progression. The LadyBoss® Pocket Personal Trainer provides a workout by workout progression of bodyweight training exercises.
To supplement your bodyweight training program try one or all of these easy to find pieces of equipment: yoga mat, step or box, pull-up bar, TRX strap, or Bosu ball.
More fun equipment options for strength training programs include tires and sledgehammers, sandbags, medicine, and slam balls and kettlebells! From experience, everyday household items can add resistance to get you started. Try soup cans, water bottles, even pets or small children!
Flexibility programs can reduce the risk of injury, alleviate back pain and overcome balance problems by engaging in activities that lengthen and stretch the muscles. Maintaining well-stretched muscles can improve athletic performance and allow movement through a full range of motion.
It’s good to note that experts have stopped recommending stretching before exercise. Instead, it’s best to first warm-up for 5-10 minutes by performing movements that elevate your heart rate slightly and increase blood flow to your muscles prior to stretching them.
Flexibility programs include yoga, pilates, tai chi, and post-workout stretching routines.
How to Pick the Right Program
Picking a workout program that is right means knowing what your goals are, what program type it will take (or a combination of programs) to reach your goal, and what resources you have available to complete the training program. You also want to be able to add exercises without causing pain or injury.
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