With so much information floating around you on a daily basis, it can be hard to know what information is useful, and what is just background noise. One day you may hear something that says you are doing too much exercise, the next you'll read something that says you aren't doing enough! It's enough to make your head spin! Short intense workouts or a longer, more relaxed affair? What's the deal? How much exercise do you really need to do?
Well, the amount of exercise that is best for you depends on your goals. It would be great if there was a one size fits all answer but there are just too many variables between individuals to give one response. Fortunately, many recent scientific findings do shed some light on what you should be doing, and how often, when it comes to certain goals. So while there isn't one simple answer, there are things you can do that will be more helpful than others!
If weight loss is your goal:
Do at least 3 HIIT sessions a week with 1 strength training session
If you are trying to lose weight, high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great place to start. Not only will this help you lose more fat than a steady state cardio session, it will even save you time! These workouts alternate short periods of intense work with short periods of rest, or less intense work. One 20 minute session could burn you as many calories as a 45 minute cardio session! Basically, you'll get your body all revved up doing your period of work and burn major calories. But you keep burning in your rest period! Because you've kicked your system up a notch, your body will burn extra calories during rest trying to return to a state of homeostasis. During your intense interval, your body uses the quick, and easily accessible, glycogen for energy but during your rest period, it draws energy from fat -- making HIIT workouts incredible fat burners!
These training sessions can look any way you want. Your intervals can be running or cycling or hill sprints or any other activity that gets your heart rate up. Try to make one of these weekly HIIT sessions based around body weight exercises, like burpees, squats and lunges. This will help you maintain your muscle so that when you start dropping fat, you don't also lose muscle. And don't forget to add a strength training workout to your routine. Aim to hit all the major muscle groups and use weight that is heavy enough to leave you feeling like you cannot eek out even one more rep (Tips on how to pick your weight, here
). On your rest days, don't just lounge around. Move your body in less intense ways. Go for a walk, do some yoga. Whatever it is, just move. Making activity a part of every day will help you stay consistent!
If you'd like to look more toned:
Do at least 2 strength training sessions a week with at least 2 HIIT sessions
Even if you haven't lost a single pound, strength training can change your entire look! If you don't want to spend your life in the weight room, you don't have to! Just 2 sessions a week is all you will need to start seeing results. Build your sessions around 8 to 10 different moves that target your major muscle groups like your shoulders, chest, back, arms, abs, or legs. If you're just starting out, begin with one round of 12 to 15 reps. That's all you need! As you get stronger, you can start to mix things up a bit. One session, you can do 12 to 15 reps with lighter weight, while during another session, you can do 8 to 10 reps with a moderately heavy weight.
Don't be afraid of lifting heavy weights. You will not get super big muscles. It takes a lot of really hard work to build muscles like that! it is only through lifting heavy weights that you will produce the muscle changes
that give you strength and definition.
Body fat hides your muscles so if you'd like to see them and show them off, it is important include fat burning exercises in your routine as well. A few HIIT sessions a week should help here. But don't neglect your rest days. All these workouts use muscles and in order to see the results you want, you have to let those muscles recover and rebuild. Try to plan your sessions around alternate muscle groups so you aren't taxing your body and undermining your own work!
These, of course, are just guidelines. What works for your body may not work for someone else's. You may find you need an extra HIIT sessions to lose weight, for example. Give yourself time to see what works for you. Because, the exercise that is going to work in helping your reach your goals is the EXERCISE YOU WILL DO!
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