There are so many different types of workouts that it can be difficult to figure out which works best for you. The good news is that as long as we get moving and put in some quality physical activity on a regular basis, our health is already improved. To get into specifics, different types of workouts are geared toward different types of people with different goals. Once you get into a regular routine and want to dive in even more, figure out what your specific goals are and then which type of workout best suits your needs.
• Weight loss. For those working toward weight loss, cross-training and circuit training are two perfect options. The idea is to burn fat with cardio and then strengthen and build lean muscle with lifting weights. Circuit training is almost a form of cross-training in that several exercises are done in succession with little to no rest in between, keeping the heart rate up, which will allow for fat burning as well as muscle strengthening.
• Aging. As people age, it is incredibly important to just keep moving. The old saying is fairly true: "If you don't use it, you lose it." Strength training is great for the older population because as we age, our muscles and bones begin to weaken, and performing resistance exercises is a great means of slowing that process. I'm not saying to go out and lift like a body builder, but some moderate strength training a couple of days a week works well for keeping muscles and bones strong and healthy. More gentle and stability-focused forms of physical activity are great for seniors as well, like yoga or core work. Either way, when it comes to aging, simply staying active by any means is extremely important.
• Building endurance. Athletes who want to focus on increasing their VO2 max (basically meaning highest oxygen intake level) and stamina will benefit greatly from interval training. This truly allows a person to test their limits and gradually build up over time. Interval training involves a circuit-like workout of exercises switching between high intensity and low intensity.
• Gaining muscle. People who want to focus on building strength and potentially even muscle size should definitely strength train, but in a particular fashion. Typically, a higher number of sets consisting of very low repetitions of weights at or near the one-repetition maximum (personal record) with long rests in between are a great method for gaining muscle.
• Dealing with back troubles. A lot of people with chronic back pain tend to avoid exercise because they are worried about further injuring their back. Physical activity is still important for everyone, but for these folks in particular, it's really essential to build core (both back and abdominals) strength and stability, which may actually help alleviate some back issues. Core strength and stability should be the basis of all exercise, regardless of the individual, because that is where our body's center is located.
• Athletes. Of course people who play competitive sports will benefit greatly from regular exercise. To fully reap the benefits, the exercise should be geared toward the athlete's particular sport. Sports that require a lot of quick movements, such as football or soccer, require agility training. Sports that require leg strength and quick movements, such as volleyball or track and field, require plyometrics. Sports that require upper body strength and stability, such as baseball or golf, require a great deal of core work. Even though the specific workout depends on the sport, athletes should maintain a regular workout routine with a variety of exercises and work different muscles to keep their bodies in tip-top shape.
• General fitness. Finally, for people who are already in fairly good shape but don't play competitive sports regularly and don't really have any health issues, it is crucial to keep the body up to par by just staying active. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy and stick with it, but don't be afraid to mix things up or try something new, either!
No matter what, just getting active is better than nothing at all. When it comes to fully benefiting from working out regularly, perform exercises specific to your goals. Talk to your doctor or a personal trainer for more personalized information about what types of workouts may be best for you. Just don't stop moving!
Amanda Oppenheim is a graduate of Stevenson University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.