Getting fit and healthy is a common New Year resolution, and often difficult to stick to. One of the common reasons people don’t stick to their goals is because they get bored, or worse injured. Often this is due to focussing too much on one area of fitness. Below are the four key areas you should focus your fitness training on for a balanced workout plan.
Often cardio is viewed with an all-or-nothing approach, with some people only doing cardio activities and others ignoring it completely. Cardio is any endurance or aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate. It is also the area of your fitness training that will have the greatest effect on your day-to-day life. By incorporating cardio consistently into your fitness training, you will see increased lung capacity, lower blood pressure, and fat loss.
Some popular activities that fall into the cardio focus area are – running, dancing, cycling, playing tennis and skiing. However, cardio can be any physical activity that increases your heart rate for a minimum of 10 minutes per session. You should incorporate activities that you enjoy to ensure they are a consistent part of your routine. As you progress on your fitness journey, you may need to increase the intensity of your workouts to ensure you keep your heart rate up.
Muscular strength is another key fitness area that is often viewed with an all-or-nothing approach. Strength training is crucial for anyone looking to improve their general fitness. Not only does this help keep fat off but will also help your heart, joints, and bone health. Increasing your lean muscle mass can help you to live a long healthy life.
For many, when they think of strength training they think of weight lifting. However, strength training also includes resistance training. Resistance training uses your own weight combined with stretchy elastic bands rather than weights. The bands come in various strengths from light to heavy, so you can continue to build muscle mass as your fitness journey progresses. If choosing to increase your strength with weights, ensure you start small and work your way up. Avoid locking your joints and keep the correct form to avoid injury. If you are new to weight training, it is recommended to book a session with a trainer to learn the correct form and process. Whether you use weights or resistance bands you should work a different muscle group each day. By honing in on a different group each day (5 days a week!) you can really focus your fitness training and see the greatest muscle gains.
Core strength is often overlooked, however, it is key to improving balance and posture. Additionally, good core strength can decrease back, neck and hip pain. Now improving core strength is not just about adding crunches or sit-ups to your workout routine. You should include a wide variety of core-based exercises in your routine 2-4 times a week. Exercises can include planks, abdominal rollouts, pilates, or yoga. You can also incorporate core training into your strength training, however, you should ensure you also include non-weight based core training to avoid overworking the core muscles.
Maintaining your mobility and flexibility is important, as they will help you avoid injuries. What is mobility training? Often mobility training includes exercises that mobilize your joints and help keep your muscles limber. You should be starting every workout with mobility exercises to help warm up your muscles. Some examples of mobility training are bear crawls, walking lunges, squats and leg raises. Often mobility exercises are referred to as dynamic stretches, meaning you are moving while stretching. Flexibility on the other hand uses static stretches such as spinal twists, side lunges, hamstring pulls and more. These should be done at the end of every workout as they help to stretch the muscles out and avoid tightening.
Now that we’ve covered all the areas you should focus your fitness training on for 2021, you can make a plan. Ensure you also incorporate rest days into your plan, and allow for flexibility. If you miss a day of your workout plan, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Simply start again the next day.
Developing a fitness routine is essential, and the tandem key is developing a healthy eating plan. Be sure to check out our posts on healthy eating as well.