How to reach your fitness goals:
1) If fat loss is your goal, exercise at a low to medium intensity for a longer duration (30–40 minutes minimum). Walking is an excellent fat loss exercise. Remember you can’t spot reduce fat deposits, so doing hundreds of sit-ups will not cure a pudgy stomach. They’ll simply tighten and tone the abdominal muscles under the layers of fat! You need to do aerobic exercise to get rid of the fat.
2) If you want to increase your cardiovascular/aerobic fitness, or improve your endurance, you need to do aerobic exercises with an emphasis on goals. Gradually increase the distance you run, swim or cycle, or complete the same distance, but in a shorter period of time.
3) If you want to improve your strength, weight training is ideal. Gradually increase the weights you lift. If you’re using your own body weight as resistance, increase the number of repetitions you do. For example, go from 10 push-ups to 12.
4) If your goal is to improve muscle tone without adding bulk, use lighter weights with a higher number of repetitions, or use your own body weight as resistance.
5) To increase your flexibility and suppleness, stretching is the key. Yoga is also great for achieving this goal.
6) Aim for variety: While your program should reflect your core goal, still include other aspects of fitness. For example, don’t confine your program to strength training as you’ll still be unfit in cardiovascular terms and probably have little flexibility due to the muscle shortening effect of strength training. As with most things in life, too much of one thing is not good, so remember to cross-train.
7) Start slowly and gradually build up, no matter how hard it is to restrain yourself. If you overdo it at the beginning, you’ll only risk injury. Keep your exercises varied to avoid straining – you can get RSI from exercise as well. Tennis elbow and runner’s knee are two very common overuse injuries.
8) Recovery: Even when you finally reach your peak condition, treat your body to a day of rest, or have lighter training days to allow your muscles to recover.
Muscle vs. Fat
Muscle tissue has a higher metabolic rate than fatty tissue, so as you reduce fat and develop muscle tissue, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a faster metabolism. You’ll also look and feel so much better.
What about diet?
We’ve only looked here at half of the total health equation. Diet also plays a very important role. But at least if you’re exercising, you can treat yourself to the odd chocolate without so much guilt. It’s amazing how much better it tastes!
So go on – start getting fit for summer. And if you do, my challenge to you is this – don’t just stop at summer. Get fit for life – stay fit and healthy all year round. You may actually enjoy it!