With the summer in full swing, I have had numerous members ask me about the best workout. In my almost 31 years being in the fitness business, I have gone through many fads and new ways to exercise. But, what I always find out is that it always circles around the basics — cardio, strength, strength endurance, flexibility and body composition (eating right). It doesn’t matter how you get it in, as long as you balance them out throughout your workouts. It could be on a weekly basis or even a monthly basis.
One thing that is extremely important is to find what works for you, for your age, your fitness level, your availability.
Too many times people are setting their goals too high with pretty much a guaranteed injury or burn out.
For example, workouts like Boot Camp, Cross Fit and Spartan training are hot right now. If you are just starting a workout program, these workouts would be too much for you. You won’t be able to move, let alone brush your teeth for days after the workout. Your chance of getting an injury is very high and you will burn out very quickly and feel that exercise is not for you, period.
If you really want to know where your fitness level is, any certified personal trainer can get you through an assessment where they check your weight, body fat, blood pressure, strength, strength endurance, cardio test (step, bike or treadmill) and flexibility. These numbers will rate you on a scale according to your age. It will also show where your weaknesses are (if any). For example, you might be a super fast 5K runner but with no upper body strength. Total health is the total package, as you see now that any professional athlete combine many different components into their workouts, such as football players doing yoga.
What works for someone else does not mean that it will work for you. One person might have great results with cardio every day and twice a week full body strength training and stretching 3 times a week. Someone else might have greater results with strength training every day (split body workout) 3 times a week of cardio and stretching every day.
Logging what you are doing will help you understand what works for you or what doesn’t. Of course, this is also very beneficial with your eating. There are many times people do not realize they eat as much until they start writing it down.
Find a workout habit that works in your lifestyle, your body type, your fitness level and yes, your age. Personally, I have found that the older I am, my workouts have changed from explosive high intensity to all around, lower intensity with lots of stretching and calisthenics. It seems to work for me.
One of my trainers answer to the best workout question is: “The workout you are going to do.” Isn’t that the truth? Find something that works in your schedule, works for your body and your mind.
Ester H. Marsh ACSM Cpt, Associate Executive and Health and Fitness Director, JF Hurley Family YMCA