Zumba, P90x, Insanity, and Jillian Michael’s RIPPED, are just a few of the current fads in fitness. And just like diet fads, exercise fads come and go. Before I continue, let me say that I enjoy trying every new popular DVD and fitness classes, and sometimes I can even get a decent workout (ex: I have been trying Insanity, and LOVE it! It’s the best and hardest at-home I have ever done). However, it is imortant to maintain a well rounded approach to fitness.
The program that I put my gym clients through focuses on three elements. Cardiovascular activity, wegiht training, and nutrition. Cardio is simply engaging in activity that raises your heart rate to a target. To calculate your target heart rate, take 220 minus your age times .65-.85. Cardio is so important for heart health, decreasing the risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, reducing stress, increasing lung capacity, helping you to sleep, and of course, burning calories. There are many ways that you can get a good cardio workout. I usually start my new clients off on the cardio machines – elliptical, treadmill, bike, stepper, etc. I also incorporate a lot of plyometrics and metabolic training (the kinds of moves that you see in Jillian’s RIPPED and Insanity). Zumba is also a good cardio workout! The fitness fads that I mentioned earlier generally focus quite a bit on cardio. P90x, Insanity, and Jillian’s RIPPED also incorporate body weight exercises that help with the weight training aspect. However, it is not a substitute.
The second elememt that is extrememly important to any fitness program is weight training. Lifting weights will help develop lean muscle. For every pound of lean muscle, you will burn 50 calories per day while stationary. Women always worry that they will look like a body builder if they lift weights. This simply is not true. We do not have the hormones to cause us to look like men if we lift. In my training program, I usually focus on cardio first and make sure a client can get to 600 calories per hour (which is a fairly intense pace), and then we incorporate more weight training. A lot of my female clients prefer the nautilus machines. It is good to do 8-12 repetitions to failure. This will cause your muscles to tear, and they will rebuild and strengthen during recovery. The only downside of the nautilus machines is that they isolate the muscle groups, and do not stimulate any stabilizer muscles. Personally, I prefer free weights for this reason.
And we cannot discuss a fitness program without touching on nutrition. Fuelling your body properly is vital to a good workout. Carbohydrates, protein, and fats and necesarry for a good workout. However, carbs are arguably the most important. Carbs provide the energy that fuel muscle contractions. Every time a client come to a session, I immediately ask them what they have eaten. I have been known to turn clients away if they have not eaten enough – specifically carbs. I hate the diets that have taught women that carbs are bad. I wish they were never invented because they are wrong, and they give carbs a negative connotation. If you don’t fuel properly before a workout, you will not be able to put in the intensity that is required to burn a good amount of calories and complete your weight training. You can read more about nutrition in some of my previous blogs.
So, there you have it. If you want a good approach to fitness, you must incorporate cardio, weight training, and nutrition. You cannot have one element without the other if desire to be successful for the long term. Best wishes!