Below we outline the key considerations for ensuring successful workouts that lead to results.
Establishing a Periodized Training Routine
Any good exercise program works your body in phases. Periodization is the systematic approach to training that helps you avoid overworking one group of muscles or injuring yourself by progressing incrementally from one phase to the next, increasing intensity as your body is able. We recommend the following phases:
Phase 1: Aerobic Conditioning
This is the foundation for building strength and endurance. Aerobic exercise is often referred to as “cardio” because it conditions the cardiovascular system. Exercises such as walking, rowing, jogging, swimming, skiing, cycling, running, hiking, and skating fall into this category. These exercises increase your heart rate and burn calories, giving your heart and lungs a workout. If you are looking to gain the full benefits of aerobic exercise, your heart rate needs to remain elevated for at least 20 minutes.
It is important to learn to control your breathing and teach your body to use oxygen more efficiently. This will help you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Phase 2: Muscular Development
There are several reasons to focus on muscular development. First, it helps to improve your balance and coordination. Second, it builds strength in your bones and tendons. This has multiple useful effects: it can offset the loss of muscle tone that comes naturally as you age, lessen arthritic pain, and help ward against broken bones, sprains, and muscle tears.
People often think muscle can only come from weightlifting, but a great way to begin is by doing exercises that rely on your bodyweight as the weight your joints are “lifting.” Your nutrition plan will also be customized to help you build your muscle mass. What you eat, and when you eat it in relation to your workout, can help trigger your body to build muscle.
Phase 3: Toning and Shaping
The focus of this phase is to reduce body fat and weight, by building lean muscle. With a leaner body, your overall health improves. Less weight on your body’s frame reduces the pressure on your joints, improves your posture, increases your energy and flexibility, and lowers the risk of developing health conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
Muscle toning exercises are those that force your muscles to move through the full range of motion, both contracting and extending. One example is a standing bicep curl where you would contract the muscles while bringing the weights toward your chest and extend the muscle when lowering the weight back to the starting position. Depending on the muscle group you want to tone, the exercises and exercise equipment may look very different.
Because muscles support the vertebrae along the spine, strengthening and toning will prevent lower back pain and increase your core strength. Exercising in a periodization and goal-specific manner, where you focus on all three of these phases will ensure your greatest success.
Planning Your Macronutrients
Macronutrients, often called “macros”, are the nutrients that our bodies need in large amounts. They provide us with the energy we need to function, so you can likely imagine how important they are to your training routine.
There are three major types of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They each play a specific role in powering our bodies; thus, planning your intake will help you achieve your exercise goals.
Rather than just planning and tracking your caloric intake, planning, and tracking your macros can help you to get a better understanding of how to improve your energy levels throughout the day and in sync with your workouts. Here’s a quick summary of these three macros and what they do for your body:
Carbs provide our bodies with energy. Our muscles need this energy to use as fuel throughout the day, and especially during and after workouts. Complex carbs (such as brown rice, starchy vegetables, and oats) contain more vitamins and minerals and are the better option. Complex carbs increase your energy level slowly. By contrast, simple carbs like white bread and rice will give you a quick energy boost but can also lead to a swift energy crash.
Proteins contain amino acids, which help to transport nutrients and build muscle. Eating protein-rich foods, like eggs, dairy products, meats, legumes, and nuts, will help you to feel full. Consuming animal sources of protein and/or plant-based proteins, is effective when consumed in healthy and well-balanced amounts.
Fats aid your body’s cell functioning, help to absorb vitamins from other foods, boost brain development, and protect vital organs. Like carbs, there are two different categories of fat: unsaturated fat and saturated fat. It is healthiest to consume unsaturated fats. Sources of healthy and unsaturated fats include avocados, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, and coconut oil.
Consuming carbs and protein before your workout can help to reduce your muscle breakdown when your workouts get intense. Post-workout carbs and protein can help to boost your energy level and aid recovery. Fats are most useful during endurance training.
Planning your Home Workout
If you prefer at-home workouts, you are likely missing workout space and equipment to help you reach your goals. At the same time, we can still come up with excellent workouts for home use. Many people find it difficult to sustain a home exercise routine when you have limited or no equipment and space. Therefore, it’s important to plan!
Once again, you must have a specific plan if you intend to reach your home exercise goals! Your plan should be mapped to your goals, and include:
Time limits. As you cycle through the workout phases listed above, you should have a plan for how much time you need to spend in each phase to achieve your goal. Make the time limit on exercises reasonable and attainable. You can increase your exercise times as you build endurance.
A set of exercises. You should go into your exercise time knowing which exercises you intend to do. What exercise is going to get you through the aerobic phase? What about muscle development?
Substitute equipment. If you have a treadmill, stair climber, or elliptical machine in the home, planning to start with some cardio exercises may be easy. If you don’t, you may need to plan an outdoor exercise around your local weather forecast or substitute with other options. For instance, if you have a multi-level home, you can climb the staircase in place of a stair climber machine, or you can walk a path around your home or in your hallway(s) in place of time on the treadmill. Get creative!
A personal trainer. A personal trainer can assist you with both planning an appropriate workout for your body, skill level, and health goals. Additionally, trainers have experience and expertise in developing exercise routines that fit the provided space. If you only have the living room floor or a corner in your bedroom to exercise, a trainer will develop exercises to fit your space.
Why Do This?
You will receive immediate health benefits from having a personalized strength and aerobic training routine. Better circulation, breathing, and posture are just a few of the benefits. It also helps prevent several common health conditions, such as osteoporosis, especially in women; diabetes; and heart disease.