Exercise for dummies

In today’s society, more than ever, people are taking a large interest in health and fitness. More and more people are attending exercise classes and gyms but, are they actually knowledgeable in the different forms of exercise and training, as well as the benefits that the different forms of training yield?

I have seen it so many times- where a person wants to lose weight and remain slim, and therefore only engages in cardiovascular exercises because they believe that resistance training will ‘bulk them up’, or where a person wants to become strong, and build muscle and therefore only engages in resistance and weight training because cardio will reduce their ‘gains’, or even when a person is trying to excel in a certain sport, they focus on their cardiovascular fitness and sport specific training, but then neglect resistance training, which results in them accumulating multiple injuries. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has different goals (either to be fit, or be built and toned, or both), but I think that people really need to be aware of the different benefits that resistance and cardiovascular exercises hold, and that combining both forms of exercise together, will not only improve your body image (as you will be leaner and more toned), but that your functional strength, movement, and fitness will increase considerably.

So, without further ado lets look at the different benefits, shall we?

Resistance training:

A resistance is used to build and strengthen your muscles, such as dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells, and resistance bands. Even your own body weight can also be used as a form of resistance.

Example: Bicep curls, lunges, push-ups, squats

  1. Aids and promotes long term weight-loss, as you improve and increase your muscle mass, your fat mass decreases. Did you know that resistance training doesn’t only burn a high amount calories during your exercise session (because muscle metabolizes faster than fat), but that it results in calories being burned long after your exercise session ended too? Bonus!
  2. Promotes and protects bone health, as well as your muscle mass.
  3. It makes you fitter and stronger, as it strengthens and tones your muscles.
  4. Helps to develop better body mechanics- it improves balance, co-ordination, flexibility, and posture (which obviously improves your appearance- who can argue with that?).
  5. Plays a role in disease prevention, as it can improve glucose control (blood sugar levels), as well as strengthening and increasing bone density which can decrease the risk of bone fractures (especially for woman after menopause as they often develop osteoporosis)
  6. Boosts energy levels and improves your mood-  it elevates your endorphins or ‘feel good hormones’, and helps you to sleep better.
  7. Improves your metabolism, because strength training burns a high amount of calories during and even after your exercise session.

Cardiovascular training:

Low or moderate intensity exercises, which are generally performed at a slow to moderate pace, for an extended period of time.

Example: Jogging, walking, swimming, cycling

  1. Improves heart health, by getting your heart pumping faster on a regular basis, you will keep that heart of yours healthy and in-shape!
  2. Improves your metabolism, which promotes weight-loss. Yippeee!
  3. Boosts your energy levels and improves your mood-  yup, it has the same benefit and effect as resistance training, which I mentioned above.
  4. Helps to decrease your appetite- as appetite supressing hormones are released during cardiovascular exercise.
  5. Helps to improve your ability to recover, if you are stiff from resistance training, a light walk or jog increases the flow of blood and nutrients to your muscles, and helps to reduce stiffness.
  6. Helps to regulate blood sugar levels- the more one exercises, the more the muscles ability to use glucose improves, which results in less changes/deviations in blood sugar levels.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Bouts of high intensity exercise, followed by slower and lower intensity exercise.

Example: Skipping for 1min, resting for 30secs, repeat 15 times, or sprint/run as hard as you can for 1min, walk for 1 minute, repeat 15 times.

  1. You will burn more fat- the intense exertion results in you burning more calories than you would after a steady-paced jog.
  2. Builds a healthier and stronger heart, as your elevated heart-rate  during exercise causes the heart muscle to pump blood faster and harder.
  3. No equipment is necessary- just you and your body, baby!
  4. Increases your metabolism and helps prevent aging- it increases your ability to burn fat, as well as stimulating your Human Growth Hormone, which is responsible for your caloric burn and slows down your aging process.
  5. You can do it anywhere, anytime, adapting it to any time or spacial constraints that you may have.
  6. It’s challenging, which means that it is rather unlikely that you will find this training boring, plus you will get fast results! Just what you wanted to hear, am I right?

So, I hope I have managed to help you gain a little bit of insight into the different forms of exercise, as well as their benefits. I also hope that you can see that by combining these different training methods can maximize your progress both physically, and aesthetically. Create an exercise programme whereby you spend 2-3 days of the week doing resistance training, and 30-45 minutes of cardiovascular training (on alternate days) 2-3 times a week. Squeeze in a quick HIIT focused training session (adapted to the time frame you have available) if you are pushed for time on a specific day, or when you feel like having an intense exercise session. Aim to exercise at least 4-5 times a week to see the best results and reap the biggest benefits!

Best of luck!

 

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