You’ve committed to getting fit and have succeeded at including an exercise routine in your week. How do you know when you’re ready for a more advanced routine, and how can you “up the ante?” These workout tips may help.
Workout Tips: So You’re a Beginner…
Beginner workouts are solely focused on getting your body moving. You see, that’s where most people get stuck – finding the time to move their bodies. They’re often glued to their desk or couch, or they’re using all their time to take care of others.
So, the best way to start working out is to simply focus on regular movement – whether that’s walking several times per week or taking some basic classes at a gym. These are fantastic ways to not only move your body, but to help to solidify this new habit of exercise.
However, there comes a time when you’re going to need to upgrade your basic plan and change up your fitness goals. You might hit an “exercise plateau” – where fitness or weight loss results just seem to stall. Or, you may just become bored of your same routine. You’ve become really good at the basics, and your body and mind need a challenge.
Workout Tips: Transitioning To More Advanced Workouts
So, how do you refurbish your exercise routine? The good news is that there isn’t just one way. But the common denominator is that you need to change up one variable in your routine to challenge your body and muscles.
Trainers categorize these variables into frequency, intensity, time, or type of exercise. Simply pick one of these variables to upgrade your fitness regime. And as always, get your doctor’s approval before making any changes to your fitness routine.
Frequency – How Often Do I Need To Work Out?
Are you currently working out three days per week? Add another workout day. You can keep doing this over time until you reach 5-6 workout days per week. It’s important to leave yourself at least one recovery day.
Intensity – How Hard Should I Work Out?
Exercise intensity corresponds with how hard the activity feels to you. But you’ll also be able to see this reflected in how hard you’re breathing and in your heart rate. Working out at the right intensity is how you get the most out of your workout.
Your exercise intensity must generally be at a moderate or vigorous level for maximum results and benefits. Both The Department of Health and Human Services and The American College of Sports Medicine recommend a program that looks a little like this:
At least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of moderate aerobic activity — such as brisk walking, swimming, or mowing the lawn — or 75 minutes (1.25 hours) a week of vigorous aerobic activity — such as running, aerobic dancing, or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). You can even do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.1
If you’ve been taking spin classes and it’s become comfortable, can you amp up your max effort on the bike? (You can often track this on the digital display).
Give High-Intensity Interval Training A Try
High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) is a workout that switches between short bursts of vigorous effort and periods of rest. The idea is that you push yourself to the max during these short bursts to get your heart rate up.
HIIT is a favored workout, as you get way more bang for your buck. Researchers have found that just two minutes of a HIIT sprinting routine may give you the same benefits as working out for 30 minutes at a moderate pace.2
Strength Or Resistance Training
You should aim to do strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice a week. Focus on performing 8-12 repetitions over 8-10 different exercises that target all major muscle groups. This doesn’t have to be performed on gym equipment. You can use body weight, resistance bands, free weights, or medicine balls.3
The weight or resistance should be heavy enough to tire your muscles by about 12 repetitions. Once it becomes easy, you’ll want to up your weight.
For adults with chronic conditions who can’t do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, just be as physically active as your abilities allow, and always follow your doctor’s advice.4
Time – How Long Should My Workouts Be?
You might be able to achieve even greater gains if you ramp up your efforts to include 300 minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity a week. That’s 5 hours a week, or 50 minutes per day, over 6 days.5
Of course, you shouldn’t rush to achieve this amount – especially if you’re new to exercise.
Start by adding just 10 minutes to your current routine, and increase this as you’re able.
Type – Should I Change The Type Of Workout I Do?
Always. The body gets used to what it knows, so it’s a good idea to continually challenge it. Mixing things up every now and then is a good challenge that stops your body from getting too comfortable.
If your morning workout is always on the treadmill, mix it up with time on the elliptical or stair climber. If you’re doing a lot of walking, can you switch to a light jog for a couple of those walks per week? If you love to swim, can you add an hour at the pool one morning per week? Or if you’ve been doing a spin class, how about trying a HIIT class?
You don’t have to completely overhaul your workout plan. Just keep mixing it up. Not only will it help to challenge your body, but it’ll help your mind from becoming bored with the “same old” routine.
A little soreness is normal when upping your exercise game because you’re placing more stress on your muscles. However, if your muscle fatigue or soreness lasts for days, and you’ve given yourself plenty of rest, talk to your doctor.6
Workout Tips: Is It Effective To Workout At Home?
It doesn’t matter where you work out, so long as you workout. You might not always be able to hit the gym. Some days, it might be raining or snowing outside. Your home, office, or even your “home office” can offer ample opportunities to workout. If you want to workout at home, the key is to stay motivated.
Here are some effective ways to workout at home:
- Free home workout apps and videos: Find a personal trainer to follow (or multiple trainers) on YouTube or Instagram. There’s a heap of free workouts on both platforms – from body weight strength training to HIIT to yoga.
- Subscribe to a training program online: Even those with membership fees may have a less expensive price tag than a gym membership.
- Grab a free training app for your phone: You can find a lot of training options for zero cost. Programs like this might help you set an ongoing workout schedule.
- Modify your gym program for when you need to work out at home: Purchase a few basic free weights and/or resistance bands (these aren’t expensive) and a jump rope to do cardio in your garage.
- Invest in a piece of workout equipment: like a treadmill, bike, or elliptical machine.
Workout Tips: Compound Exercises Vs Isolation Exercises, What’s The Difference?
You may hear these terms come up often (and everyone seems to have an opinion on which is best). They’re simply a way to classify weight training exercises.
- Compound Exercises – A compound exercise involves more than one major muscle group at a time. It’s usually one larger muscle group that’s doing the majority of the work, and a smaller muscle group(s) working as the secondary. Think, shoulder press, bench press, or tricep dips. In the latter, the tricep is the major muscle, but it also involves the chest and shoulders.
- Isolation Exercises – An isolation exercise involves only one major muscle group. In fact, all other muscle groups are purposely avoided by limiting the range of motion and “isolating” that one muscle. Think, bicep curls, leg extensions, or calf raises.
So, Is One Method More Effective Than The Other?
Regardless of your fitness goals or your fitness level, both compound and isolation exercises can be useful tools. While isolation exercises may help to strengthen weaker muscles, compound exercises can help teach your muscles how to coordinate with each other – leading to greater overall strength gains.7,8
It’s All In The Master Plan
This can’t be said enough – you need a plan for success. Knowing when and how you’ll exercise each week is paramount to making it happen. But as Tony Horton says,
“Write your plan down, but write it in pencil. Erasers are your friends on the road to success.”
Your fitness routine will change over time, and you should be ready to move with it. Challenges not only increase your results, but they’re also what makes exercise rewarding. You can literally see how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved – and that can be addictive.
If you’re not sure how to ramp up your current routine effectively, work with a personal trainer for some personalized workout tips. Even just a couple of sessions may help get you on a new path.
And, as always, continue to focus on a healthy, balanced diet. Exercise alone can’t support a healthy body.
The Ultimate Full Body Workout Routine For Strength, Fitness, And Growth
Utilizing Technology In Reaching Your Fitness Goals
Full Body Workout At Home For Beginners: Build Muscle Without Gym