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Ester Marsh column: Start now, not tomorrow

Start your workout today.

Why today? Because tomorrow is always one day away!

So many people think: “Let me just get through the holidays. I will start exercising (again) in the new year.” With all the benefits of exercising, especially through the holidays, why wait? Get started today.

It’s easy. Just start walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day for five days a week, fast enough that you know you are doing something but still able to hold conversation. Or, go on a vigorous walk (able to talk in spurts) for 20 minutes three times a week to get your cardiovascular benefits.

In addition to cardio, you should perform a minimum of two days a week (non-consecutive) of strength exercises.

These are some examples of different strength workouts, and each of them should be part of your workout:

Muscular strength: for a muscle to be able to perform a maximum effort with a weight. For a beginner or intermediate, it would be 60-70 percent of their maximum weight for 8-12 repetitions, two to three sets.

An advanced person can use 80-100 percent of their maximum weight for 1-8 reps, 2-6 sets.

Rest periods one to three minutes depending how heavy you go.

Muscular endurance: to be able to repeatedly perform strength exercises with a lighter weight.

Your weight is less than 70 percent of your one rep maximum weight. Two to four sets of 10-25 repetitions with a rest period between sets of only 30 seconds to one minute.

The best way to find your one max rep is to do a fitness test with a professional. Of course you can try find your max weight on your own but make sure you have a buddy who can spot you during the test.

For beginners to intermediate you should perform two to three workouts per week using the whole body. Make sure your body has one full day in between to recover properly.

For the advanced, you can do a split body workout 4-6 days a week. Example:

Day 1: Chest and triceps; day 2: back and biceps; day 3: legs and shoulders; day 4: chest and triceps; day 5: back and biceps; day 6: legs and shoulders.

Core exercises can be done every day but when I competed in body building they looked better when I worked them only on my leg and shoulders day.

The recommendation by the American College of Sports medicine is to increase your weight only 2-10 percent over two consecutive workouts to reduce the risk of overtraining.

So whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced, don’t skip one more workout. Start today!

Ester H Marsh ACSM Cpt and Health & Fitness Director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA

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