Fitness Feature: A Guide to a Complete Workout

Posted on Feb 13 2019 - 9:00am by Samantha Clark
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The key to optimum physical health is to ensure that you’re covering all bases in your workout; that is ensuring your routines encompass an element of cardio, strength and flexibility exercise.

As this is so important to our overall health, ensuring we’re reducing our risk of disease and cancer, we thought it was important to explore these individually.

Cardiovascular Exercise

runner

Primarily, cardio or aerobic exercise is a routine designed to workout heart and lung function. It is the most effective form of exercise to helping reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and a number of other life-long diseases and conditions. But it is also great for burning calories and weight loss.

The NHS recommends that you do at least 150 minutes (2 and a half hours) of moderate aerobic activity per week. But you can condense this into 75 minutes (1 and a quarter hours) if you opt for something that is classed as high intensity or vigorous.

Examples of low-moderate intensity aerobic activity:
  • Brisk walk
  • Swimming
  • Cycling- depending on speed
  • Jogging
  • Body balance
Examples of high intensity aerobic activity:
  • Running
  • Dancing e.g. Zumba
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Cycling
  • Hiking- must be uphill
  • Aerobic classes like HIIT, legs bums & tums
  • Spin
When at the gym:
  • Running machine
  • Cross trainer
  • Cycling machine
  • Rowing machine

Strength Training

Weights

From the age of 30 we’ll experience muscle loss, even if we’re physically active, at a rate of 3-5% per decade. It’s called sarcopenia and is an effect of getting old.

Although cardio/aerobic exercise alone will go some way to help keep the muscles strong and healthy, targeted exercises are better.

The key to strength training is ensuring a routine of resistance-based exercises to encourage the extension and contraction of the muscles to give them a thorough workout.

It’s recommended that you allow 2 days a week to building on your muscles of about 30 minutes per workout.

At home:

If you’re looking to exercise more at home, you don’t need any fancy equipment to work out all major muscle groups. In fact, there are plenty of routines that you can do at home that uses your body weight as a mechanism for strengthening and training your muscles.

  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Lunges
  • Planks
  • Squats
In the gym:
  • Free weights
  • Cable machines
  • Resistance machines (e.g. TRX) or bands
  • Leg press
  • Rowing machine
  • Pull downs
  • Shoulder/chest press
Classes to try:
  • Kettlebell classes
  • Legs bums and tums
  • Body pump

Flexibility Workout

Stretch

The final key element in ensuring your body is in tip-top shape is to incorporate a bit of flexibility training into your weekly workout.

Often the most neglected aspect of a workout, flexibility training ensures the health of your muscle and joint function. Enabling you to keep a good range of movement and strength as you get older. It can alleviate muscle tension, tension headaches and a range of other conditions and discomforts. Your flexibility programme doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, it can be a routine of really simple stretching exercises.

As a bare minimum, you should have an effective routine when you finish your aerobic and strength training programmes- known as a cool down. These should be around 5-10 minutes in length and look to stretch out the large muscle groups. A light stretch before your work out is ideal to as this helps to limber up the muscles but shouldn’t be extensive.

Additionally, we’d recommend introducing small routines throughout your day, particularly if you’re job involves sitting at a desk for extended periods. Finally, if you’re looking to increase your range of motion, a programme dedicated to flexibility is the way to go.

Stretches to try:
  • Stretch your arms across your body, holding it in position with the other arm
  • Holding your head to one side to stretch out your neck
  • Flex your fingers back to stretch out wrists and muscles in the upper arm
  • Holding your ankle to your bum to stretch out your quads
  • Stretch your carves by putting one leg in front of the other- the front knee bent and the back leg straight
  • Reach for your toes to stretch your hamstrings- best on the floor
Classes to try:
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Tai-chi
  • Body balance
  • Dance

We hope that helps you to better understand the routines you need to coordinate to get the most out of your weekly workout for overall good health.

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