Types of Exercise Programs and Training Workouts
There are four basic types of exercise program, all designed to help you achieve different goals. Some athletes focus more on one type of exercise program than another depending on their area of expertise, but for many of us “fitness nuts” we like to follow an exercise program which includes aspects from all in our training workouts.
The Four Types of Exercise Program
- Strength and Resistance Training – these exercises are used to improve muscle and bone strength.
- Flexibility Exercise – to improve joint and muscle range of motion, keeping you nice and supple like those incredibly bendy gymnasts (among other things).
- Cardiovascular Exercise / Aerobics Training – this type of exercise program is designed to improve physical endurance and personal stamina.
- Balance / Core Workouts – exercises designed to improve the balance and co-ordination, whilst increasing abdominal strength.
Well now that I’ve teased you with that info, I think it’s only fair that I open up and tell you a little bit more about the types of exercises which are involved in each exercise program. What are flexibility exercises? How do I improve balance? Do people really wear those shorts at aerobic classes?
Aerobics can be great fun, it’s just like dancing although it can take a while to learn the steps . . . just stick at it – and not a pair of lycra shorts in sight!
Strength and Resistance Training
Strength and resistance exercises might make you think about those weight lifters “taking the strain” when their faces go purple and their neck looks like it might burst, but that really ain’t necessary for strength training, your own weight combined with gravity provide you with all of the kit you’re gonna’ need. Strength and resistance training exercises not only build muscle but also help to burn calories and lose weight, as well as shaping up those lumpy bits which are not supposed to be lumpy.
Before you do any type of exercise program it’s really important that you warm up with a few light stretches, then you can perform some of the following strength and resistance training exercises. Remember, you don’t need lots of expensive equipment in a state of the art gym, you can do these at home!
- Strength and Resistance Training for the Arms – good old push-ups, knee push-ups, wall push-ups, pull ups and chin ups of all types and in all combinations. The good news is that as your arms get stronger and your bodyweight decreases, they get much easier, but trying to push up 200 pounds with spaghetti arms is gonna’ be difficult.
- Strength and Resistance Training for the Abs – sit ups, crunches, reverse crunches, double crunches, abdominal curls, oblique twists . . . all these and much more are effective strength and resistance training exercises.
- Strength and Resistance Training for the Lower Body – squats, half squats, sumo squats, star jumps, one-legged hop, forward kicks, back kics plus much more . . . are you beginning to get the picture?
No excuses – everybody can do strength and resistance training exercises.
Flexibility exercises can really improve your ability to move about, improve posture and reducing muscle tension. Going through a few stretching exercises both before and after exercise is really important to reduce the risk of injury, although remember that you must warm up ‘cos stretching cold muscles can cause injuries. Remember too that stretches should not hurt, if it starts to hurt then take it a little easier, take a few deep breaths and relax into your flexibility exercise.
- Flexibility Exercises For the Front of Thigh (Quadricep) – you’ve probably witnessed athletes, footballers and lots of other sports people doing this one before an event, hold the top of your right foot with your left hand and gently pull it up towards your a$$, then repeat with your other leg (after you’ve put the first leg down of course).
- Flexibility Exercises For the Hamstring – dancers do this one a lot, sit on the floor with your legs wide apart, then bend one leg so that the sole of your foot is resting on the thigh of your other leg, then reach towards your outstretched foot, keeping your foot upright. Rinse and repeat with the other leg.
- Flexibility Exercises For the Upper Body – you can do this one either standing or sitting, simply push your arms slightly up and back with the palms facing upwards.
- Flexibility Exercises For the Shoulder – gently (yes, gently, remember it shouldn’t hurt) pull the elbow across the chest towards the opposite shoulder. Rinse and repeat with other elbow.
You can try these after you’ve had a lot of practice – remember, it’s not supposed to hurt!
Cardiovascular Exercise & Aerobics Training
It doesn’t matter how old you are, how much excess weight you’re carrying or how athletic you are (or aren’t), cardiovascular and aerobics exercise is good for you. Don’t overdo it at first, gentle walking is a good start to aerobic exercise for those who have spent all of their spare time on the sofa for the past 20 years. It’ll be difficult at first, but as your body gets used to dealing with regular aerobic exercise you’ll get fitter and stronger. Aerobic training can help you in oh so many different ways.
- Aerobic exercise can help you to lose weight (and keep it off)
- Aerobic exercise can help to increase stamina
- Aerobic exercise activates your immune system helping you to ward off illness
- Aerobic exercise reduces health risks, particular those associated with obesity like heart disease and high blood pressure
- Aerobic exercise can help you to manage some chronic conditions like high blood pressure
- Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart
- Aerobic exercise improves you quality of life, and above all, it’s FUN!
That looked like fun . . . did you join in and try to learn a few moves?
Balance / Core Workouts
When most people think of the core they think of a six-pack (hey, isn’t that beer?) but in actual fact there’s a lot more to the core than the abdominals. The “core” consists of lots of different muscles which stabilize the pelvis and spine and run the complete length of the torso. Balance and core workouts can help to create a solid base of support, so that the athlete (or you!!) can generate powerful movements without falling over.
The core muscles are also what makes it possible to stand erect and move around on two feet. Balance and core workouts therefore, can help to control movements, shift body weight, transfer energy and move in any different direction.
Benefits of Increasing Core Strength
- A strong core can help to reduce back pain, lots of lower back pain is caused by weak and unbalanced core muscles.
- A strong core can help to improve your athletic performance.
- A strong core improves posture as it can help to remedy postural imbalances.