Exercise Programme Tips
Benefits Of Exercise
Why exercise? As modern life becomes more hectic and stressful, more and more people are turning to exercise to relieve these modern pressures.
Regular exercise lowers Blood Pressure, Cholesterol levels, Body Fat, Stress levels and many more factors that contribute to bad health.
Other benefits include Increased Aerobic Capacity, Stronger & Efficient Heart & Lungs and a more mobile and stronger body.
To achieve these benefits a well structured and balanced exercise programme is vital. What follows will help achieve this.
Warm up & Stretches
Before any strenuous exercise is attempted the body should be well prepared. This should involve a task that incorporates the major muscles of the body or the muscles that will be mainly used in the main work out.
The intensity should be of 50 or 60 % effort level of what will be required in the main work out. Duration should be around 5 to 10 minutes or however long it takes to feel warm enough to perform stretches.
After an effective warm-up stretch should be performed. A good stretching routine relieves any tightness or soreness in the muscles, which could limit potential in the main work out.
Good stretch routines incorporate all the major muscles and joints of the body. A stretch should be passive with no bouncing and be held for 10 –15 seconds with deep controlled breathing.
For any Cardiovascular workout to work, there are 3 things that must be followed for results to be achieved.
First is Duration, how long should exercise last for every workout. Second is Intensity, how hard should the exercise be and thirdly Frequency, how often should you exercise.
Duration: Depending on how fit you are exercise should last for at least 20 mins and must be continuous for it to be the most beneficial (saying that, any exercise for any duration is of some benefit). The longer the Duration is the more improvement you will see over a period of time.
If you are at a stage where 20 mins of continuous exercise is not achievable, then exercise as long as you can, and over time you will be able to exercise for longer. Just be patient it will come.
Intensity: There is no point in exercising for a long duration if the effort that you are putting in is not of the most beneficial.
There are many ways of determining the right Intensity but the most common one is to monitor your heart rate. This can be done in different ways, using a heart rate monitor is the most accurate way but is expensive.
A much simpler way is by checking your pulse on your wrist or neck and counting each beat for 10 seconds and then multiply by 6 to find your beats per minute.
As you shouldn’t stop while exercising it might not be possible all the time to check your pulse, so another way of judging how hard the Intensity is is to use a scale of 1 to 10.
1 being that the exercise is easy, 5 is that it is somewhat hard and 10 that the effort is maximum. Most people should work around 7-8 out of 10.
Frequency: If we are exercising for the right duration and the right intensity level, then how often should we exercise?
It would be nice if we could just exercise once a year and stay fit and healthy for a year. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t work that way and needs exercise on a regular basis.
The body starts losing the benefits of exercise every 48 hours. So really we need to train every second day. That’s possible in a perfect world, but as we have other commitments this is not always possible. If we exercise around 3-4 times per week then it will be possible to see progress. That’s not to say we should exercise 4 days in a row, as benefits of exercise come during rest not during exercise, we shouldn’t exercise more than 2 days in a row.
Frequency is the most common reason why people don’t reach their exercise goal, as people start with good intentions they find it hard to keep to an exercise routine.
Most of the time is because people find exercise boring, which doesn’t help with motivation. So what we will look at next will be what type of exercise is the right type of exercise.
Mode Of Exercise: There is much debate about what is the right type of exercise for people to do to reach their exercise goals.
If you are training for a certain discipline then you should train as much as possible at that discipline. If you are exercising just to improve your fitness and health than the right mode of exercise is very important.
As you must exercise 3-4 times per week you must find a mode that you enjoy doing, for example, some say running is the best mode of exercise, but most people don’t enjoy running so is this the best mode? You are not going to keep doing a certain exercise if you don’t enjoy it. The exercise though should incorporate as many of the major muscles as possible.
What are the benefits of Resistance Training?
Some of the many benefits include greater bone density, greater lean body mass, better posture and greater strength. Not all resistance training results in greater muscle size (which is one of the main reasons why people shy away from this part of exercise).
So what is the right type of Resistance Training for someone?
The following guidelines help develop a balanced resistance program.
Exercise Selection: Perform at least one exercise for each major muscle group to ensure a balanced workout.
Exercise Sequence: Start with exercises that work the larger muscles first. This allows you to perform the most demanding exercises when you are least fatigued.
Exercise Speed: At what speed should we lift weight? The faster the speed the higher the risk of injury. Lifting at slower speeds requires more of the muscle to work therefore greater benefits. A good speed consists of 2 seconds during the lifting phase and 4 seconds on the return phase.
Exercise Sets: An exercise set is usually defined as a number of successive repetitions performed without rest. The number of sets that should be performed is down to the type of resistance programme you are following and the goals you have set for yourself.
Exercise Resistance & Repetitions: As with exercise sets the number of repetitions and the resistance required will depend on what type of resistance programme you are following and the goals you have set for yourself.
But a general guide is the higher the number of repetitions you can perform with proper technique the more muscular endurance is achieved, the lower number more power and strength is achieved.
Exercise Range: It is important to perform each exercise through a full range of joint movement, thereby enhancing both muscle strength and joint flexibility.
Exercise Progression: The key to strength development is progressive resistance. As the muscles adapt to a given exercise resistance, it must be gradually increased to stimulate further strength gains.
Exercise Frequency: As strength gains only come during rest we have to make sure the rest period is long enough. Also, each muscle group only needs to be trained twice per week to gain required strength gains.
A minimum of 48 hours then is required for each muscle group to recover before training the area again.
Warm Down & Stretches
As we have been working at a high intensity for the duration of the workout it is important than to bring the intensity down gradually.
The first 24-48 hours after training we suffer from a build-up of lactic acid which causes muscle soreness, so a good warm down helps prevent a maximum build –up of lactic acid.
A warm down of around 5 to 10 minutes performing an exercise that incorporates the main muscles used during the main workout.
Also, a full range of stretches, especially the main muscle groups used during the workout, should be performed to stop stiffness occurring. Each stretch should this time be held for 30 seconds to 1 minute.