What type of exercise routine should you do?
Be warned now. If you want to start an exercise routine, searching on the Internet will return millions of results. Should you do an aerobic routine? What about a strength routine? Does your routine have to include balance? Ask anyone you want, most will have an opinion. And most of these opinions will be different. “Oh you should focus on cardio.” “You should focus on weight training.” “No, maybe you should do a boot camp.” This is very overwhelming when all you want to do is be healthy. So where should you begin?
Where to Begin
The general disclaimer here is that before you start any exercise routine, please consult your physician. So, you should do this, but most people don’t. And most people will be fine, but some people will not. If you have not exercised in a long time and are generally in bad shape, you need to talk to your physician. You don’t need some unknown health problem to take you down when you are trying to get healthy. You should begin with making sure you are healthy enough to get healthier.
But What Exercises Should I Do?
There are tons of links on the Internet that will tell you the exercises you should do. I think the question is, what kind of exercise should you focus on? According to many health organizations, the four types of exercise that you need to be healthy are:
- Aerobic – cardio based exercises like running, swimming, or dancing, which focus on your cardiovascular system;
- Strength – exercises that focus on working the muscles like weight lifting, push-ups or sit-ups;
- Balance – exercises that focus on your ability to stabilize you body positioning like using a balance board or stability ball.
- Flexibility – exercises that improve your range of motion and stretch your muscles. This is your typical stretching before and after you work out.
So What Is A Good Routine?
A good routine will include all of these. For example, you could hit the cardio portion with a 5 minute run on the treadmill. Follow this by some good stretching. Next, grab the dumbbells and perform some weight lifting. Once done weight lifting, do some light stretching to wind things up. But where is the balance in that approach??? The balance can be integrated in your stretching and weight lifting. Perform stretches that require some sort of balance like standing on one leg. Introduce some balance into your weight lifting by doing some lunges with dumbbells. Always try to implement all of the recommended exercise types in every routine. You can’t go wrong this way.
The 5and2Guy Way
Whether I am coming off a one week, two week, or two month break, I always start with the same approach. If it is summer time, I will generally do a full body workout routine so I can hit every muscle each time I exercise. This allows me to miss a day here or there during the week and still hit every muscle at least 2-3x a week. If it is winter, I usually divide the weight lifting portion up into muscle groups where I lift chest and triceps on Monday, back and biceps on Wednesday, and shoulders and legs on Friday.
Regardless of the type of routine, I always start out with 5 minutes running on the treadmill. This gets the blood flowing and the muscles moving. I then stretch for 10 minutes hitting every major muscle. I then work out for about 30-40 minutes involving 5 exercises. If I am just starting, I will use a lighter weight and perform 2 sets of each exercise. This introduces the muscles to the movement and ensures I don’t push them too hard. I do this for each day of the first week.
During the second week I perform 3 sets of the same exercise, still at the same lighter weight. Again, this gives my muscles time to get use to the movement. On the third week, I perform the same exercises but start to increase the weight to the point where I feel a really good challenge. I want to leave the gym like I have spent everything I have, so I make sure the weight does that, but at the same time isn’t too much.
Each week thereafter, I up the weights if I feel like I can safely handle it. This basically means that if I can perform all reps each set of an exercise, without cheating, I will up the weight the next week. If I can’t, or I feel like all reps of that set fully exhausted me, I won’t up the weight the next week. You kinda have to feel it out.
*** One bad thing is that I don’t really stretch after I lift. I definitely should, but time tends to get the best of me and I have to leave the gym for the next thing on my schedule.
A good routine will mix in cardio, weight lifting, balance exercises, and be sandwiched in between stretching. Always consult your doctor first to make sure your health is pretty good. Once approved, start with 2 sets of each exercise and light weights. Make sure you do your warmup running and stretching. If you feel strain, back down a bit. You don’t want to hurt yourself. But also remember, you have to challenge yourself. But for the first week or two, don’t sweat not doing the heaviest weight. It may seem easy at first, but go into it slowly or suffer the consequences. I even go back to the 2 sets/light weight approach when I switch my routine up every six weeks. This is a great way to get started whether you haven’t exercised for 5 years or one week. Good luck!!!