Beginners Fitness Programs You Should Know

There are many ways to improve fitness. You can apply a variety of techniques using a systematic approach gradually, or you can rush the process, pushing too far too fast, risking soreness, over training and even injury. Improving fitness involves increasing the range of motion and pace of movements, strengthening the muscles of the body both inside and out, decreasing fat and learning to move in a more fluid, uninhibited way.  You earn your fitness, minute-by-minute, day-by-day as you engage in appropriate training exercises.

Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. Some types of training are better for advanced trainers while some are more appropriate for beginning trainers.

Body weight training

It's easy to see why no-equipment workouts are so popular: They're relatively easy to learn, they can be modified to suit any ability level, and they can be done just about anywhere. Plus, body weight exercises are an efficient way to get fit for free. (That’s probably why the method has been ranked in the survey since 2013.) Push-ups and pull-ups are classic body weight moves, but there are plenty more to choose from, like squats, lunges, and planks, just to name a few.

Cross-Training

Cross-training means mixing in different workouts and training methods rather than focusing on just one type of workout. Not only does this help create a well-balanced fitness plan, but it can help you reach specific goals, too. For example, if you’re getting ready to run a race, you’ll want to cross-train with strength and yoga workouts, which will complement your running and help improve your performance and decrease the chance of injury by building muscle and increasing flexibility. “If you only include one form of training, you may be holding yourself back from the results you deserve,” says Cori Lefkowith, Orange County-based personal trainer and founder of Redefining Strength.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is basically aerobic weight training.
- Set up a number of stations with a variety of exercises that work the entire body, e.g. bench, curls, pulldowns, leg curls, etc.
Use a fairly light weight that you can lift without going to failure for a preset period of time.
You will do each exercise continuously for a specified time interval, e.g. 1 minute at each station and go through the cycle 1 to 3 times.
You can mix in treadmill work, skipping, cycling, etc. to add variety.
It is a reasonably good way to do aerobic work and weight training work at the same time.
It also has the advantage of working the entire body instead of just the legs as most forms of aerobic training do.

Active Recovery

This is one way to spend your “rest” day. So instead of lounging on the couch all day you’ll schedule some sort of low-intensity activity like light walking or gentle yoga. The reason why you might want to do this, instead of nothing, is that incorporating gentle movement into these days can help with circulation (which can ease soreness and reduce muscle fatigue). And remember, whether it’s gentle activity or complete rest, your body needs time to recover—when you work out, you’re breaking down muscle fibers, and recovery is when the real magic happens as your muscles rebuild stronger.

Aerobic Exercise

“Often we call all cardio ‘aerobics,’ but aerobic is actually a specific energy system,” explains Lefkowith. “[Energy systems] relate to how your body produces energy to fuel your workouts.” During aerobic exercise, your body uses oxygen for energy, which helps keep you moving for an extended period of time, like a long walk, run, or bike ride.

The first way of doing aerobic interval training involves doing a period of moderate to high intensity aerobic work, alternating with a period of rest of low intensity work, e.g. 3 minutes of fast running then 1 minute of slow walking, repeated 4 times.
You can vary the intervals and intensities to your liking, e.g. 10 minutes of moderate work, 2 minutes easy, 1 minute hard, or perhaps 5 minutes hard, 5 minutes easy.
The key is variation during the work while not working so hard that you must stop completely.

Anaerobic Exercise

On the other hand, your anaerobic energy system is taxed when you do high-intensity workouts that skyrocket your heart rate. “Anaerobic activities are short intervals of work used to improve speed and power,” explains Lefkowith. During these activities, your muscles break down glucose (aka sugar) to use as energy (because oxygen can’t deliver energy to your muscles fast enough).

This type of training involves going hard for short periods of time then resting for equal or longer periods of time.
It is done at intensities of 85 to 100% of your HR max.
Here is an example of how it works: sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds, sprint 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds, etc. Repeat 3 to 6 times depending on fitness level.

Compound Exercises

A compound exercise is a move that incorporates multiple muscle groups, like lunges, deadlifts, and squats. It may also refer to two moves being strung together, like a bicep curl to a shoulder press. Compound exercises are efficient for increasing overall muscle mass and burning calories (because they require more effort to complete), as opposed to isolation exercises, which focus on working just one muscle group (like a bicep curl).

Circuit

Think of this as a “round” of exercises. For example, in this bodyweight circuit workout, one circuit consists of 5 burpees, 10 push-ups, 15 plank jacks, and 20 jump squats. “You are moving from one exercise right to the next with [minimal] rest in between each exercise,” says Denver-based personal trainer Tara Laferrara.

Circuit training is basically aerobic weight training.
Set up a number of stations with a variety of exercises that work the entire body, e.g. bench, curls, pulldowns, leg curls, etc.
Use a fairly light weight that you can lift without going to failure for a preset period of time.
You will do each exercise continuously for a specified time interval, e.g. 1 minute at each station and go through the cycle 1 to 3 times.
You can mix in treadmill work, skipping, cycling, etc. to add variety.
It is a reasonably good way to do aerobic work and weight training work at the same time.
It also has the advantage of working the entire body instead of just the legs as most forms of aerobic training do.

Heart Rate Zones

Your heart rate refers to how many beats per minute (BPM) your heart is pumping, and when it comes to working out, knowing your heart rate can help determine if you’re working at the right intensity. You have your resting heart rate, which is how fast your heart is beating when you’re doing nothing (the best way to measure this is to take your pulse first thing in the morning). Generally speaking, this gets lower as you get more fit because your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump out blood (although if you have a naturally low resting heart rate thanks to genetics, it may not get much lower, and that’s totally fine, says Lefkowith). According to the American Heart Association, the average is 60-100 BPM. You also have your maximum heart rate, which is the hardest your heart can work efficiently.

During your workout you have “target” heart rate zones that are expressed as a percentage of your max heart rate. For low-intensity cardio, you want to aim for 60 to 70 percent of your max heart rate, for moderate-intensity cardio the goal is 70 to 85 percent, and for high-intensity cardio, 85 percent or above. This can help you see if you’re really working as hard as you think you are and adjust as needed to make sure you’re hitting your workout goals. Here’s how to calculate your max and target heart rate zones.

Foam Rolling

“Foam rolling is a form of massage (or trigger point release) that you can do to loosen tight muscles to help improve your mobility,” says Lefkowith. Using a foam roller helps smooth out “knots” in your fascia (the layer of connective tissue surrounding your muscles), which can get in the way of your range of motion. This is crucial for performing exercises with correct form and making sure the right muscle fibers are firing away. While you can stop, drop, and foam roll anytime, it’s often recommended to spend a few minutes with the foam roller before your workout to help get the juices flowing.

HIIT

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. “This refers to tough quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up,” explains Laferrara, while also (typically) decreasing the overall amount of time you spend training. This workout is great for burning fat because the intense intervals help kick-start the process known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (AKA the “afterburn effect”), which helps you burn more calories even after you stop working out as your body has to work harder and take in more oxygen to return to its resting state.

Interval Training

An interval is simply a period of activity or a period of rest. While this often refers to HIIT workouts, explains Lefkowith, you can implement intervals in pretty much any workout. Maybe that’s 30 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest, or 15 minutes of work and 2 minutes of rest—it depends on what you’re doing and what your goals are.
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