When deciding what kind of workout you want to do, you should first know what you want to gain from it. Workouts are essentially just a set list of exercises (and their variations) that strengthen certain areas of the body. Of course, there’s the reps, sets and weird faces you make as you get more and more tired, but there are three (arguably four or five or six) main areas that you might want to focus on to meet your goals.
In this article, I will outline the three main types (since I don’t have the space to talk about them all!), other names that they might go by, the health benefits and some exercises within this area.
- Endurance training
- Strength training and
- Flexibility and balance training
Endurance training, also called aerobic exercise or ‘cardio’, is essentially a repetitive motion that speeds up your heart rate. It forces your heart and lungs to work harder and kicks your circulatory system into action, which has a huge effect on blood pressure and cholesterol. Through this, it reduces risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease.
Luckily, you can easily integrate endurance training into your life, as it is a by-product of many exercises. But in focusing on it directly, there are multiple levels of intensity:
Low intensity, which includes walking, dancing, cycling, hiking or more.
High intensity, which includes sprinting and even strength training exercises.
Endurance training is also an excuse to go outside and get some Vitamin D and some fresh air. Or if you’re an indoor person, you can consider some machines like an air bike or air skier to get the same training at home.
Strength training is also known as resistance training or weight training. This is building muscle and ensuring that you are still mobile and independent. Strength is involved in anything from picking up stuff on the floor or pushing a lawnmower. As you age, you lose muscle mass, so you want to be doing some strength exercises in your workouts.
There are a lot of exercises that train strength. You might think of big burly guys deadlifting or doing some slow bicep curls. Yes, that is strength training, but it isn’t exclusive to that! You can also use your bodyweight. Strength training is essentially fighting gravity, either through pulling or pulling, so some exercises you can do are:
Squats, push-ups, chin-ups or pull-ups, lunges, or even other physical labour like gardening.
Flexibility training technically differs from balance training, but they share enough similarities that exercises for either type will also train the other aspect. These types of training don’t really have many other names. Instead, it’s near synonymous with Pilates, yoga and stretching. Compared to endurance and strength training, these aren’t trained nearly as hard, but it becomes more important as you grow older.
Flexibility focuses on increasing your range of motion, strengthening mobility, and reducing the risk of injury. Regularly doing stretches will reduce your recovery period between workouts and is especially important as you get older to reduce muscle and joint pain.
Meanwhile, balance requires an awareness of the body and your position in space to strength your core and ability to stand on your own two feet. It will make you less likely to fall or stumble and continue to maintain your stability later in life.
Exercises that do this share similarities with yoga, Pilates or even tai chi poses. However, two main types of stretching you might want to try include static stretching, where you hold a position for a period, or dynamic stretching, where you might repeat a comfortable motion for a period.
You might like a yoga mat or other flooring whilst doing this.
Ultimately, it’s important to have a balance between the different types of training. According to the Australian Department of Health’s guidelines, they recommend 2.5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity per week or equivalent.
Making sure you get out and get moving should be part of your lifestyle. You don’t need to go to the gym, but instead spend a day in the sun. Maybe you think getting a home gym is for you, or maybe you’re researching home gyms online, but despite all this, figuring out what you want from your workout is most important of all.
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