From Sprints To Squats To Chaturanga: The Importance Of Balance In Your Workout Routine (Part I)
In my previous post I discussed the importance of budgeting time to integrate fitness into your routine to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Reaching your goals also requires a balance of fitness fundamentals built into your workout plan.
Take me for example. I typically get a surprised look when I tell someone that I practice yoga at least 2 times a week. “But, you are a weight lifter?!,” I hear. I guess at 5’10” and 205 lbs I don’t look like your typical yogi, but it has been a very important part of my workout routine for a long time. So important, that I am currently working towards becoming a certified yoga teacher so that I can learn to improve my practice and teach others.
I started yoga because I was lifting weights and doing cardio work consistently from age 14 to 22. Then, I started getting a shooting pain down my right leg (called sciatica). A friend of mine, also a personal trainer, told me that my hips were tight and yoga would not be the worst idea ever. Thinking of myself as “in great shape” I decided to start my first yoga class, thinking it should be easy, “it’s just stretching and breathing. Easy, right? “Seeing “out of shape” people easily stretch into the positions that I couldn’t get into (like a simple toe touch) but then struggling with something that came easy to me (such as crow an arm balance which takes lots of shoulder strength) led me to the realization that something was missing in my workout plan. Eight years of weight training and cardio and no stretching was not improving my body the way I needed, and wanted, it to and the pain was the sign that something was out of whack.
After a few months of yoga and much more mobile hips I was pain free. Allow me to make your life a lot easier and tell you why balance in your exercise program is important. Two big things can stop you from getting to your goal: injury or frustration (from not see the results you should). Both of these are avoidable if you train smart and balance your exercise program.
There are 3 fundamentally different types of exercise:
- Aerobic Exercise (Cardio)
- Resistance training (Anaerobic)
- Mobility (Flexibility)
You need ALL of them. Period.
How much of each starts with your goals.
Goals are very personal and are allowed to change with time. Once you decide where you want to be you can start taking the steps to get there, and figuring out the right mix of the three types of exercise to get you where you need to be. There is some crossover but let me tell you a little bit about each.
This is by far the most well known type of exercise. When most people decide to get in shape this what they start doing, whether running, swimming biking, jump rope, elliptical etc, this is what most people think of when they think of exercise.
Cardio (aerobic exercise) can be defined as exercise that primarily uses you aerobic metabolism. Or simply, when your body is using oxygen to meet its energy needs. This type of exercise gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time.
This form of exercise is best for improving your cardiovascular system (thus the nickname cardio) Key benefits we see here are:
- strengthening your breathing muscles (lungs, diaphragm, and heart)
- increasing red blood cell count, which promotes oxygen transport
- strengthening and enlarging the heart muscle
- reducing blood pressure
- improving mental health, including reducing stress and lowering the incidence of depression, as well as increased cognitive capacity
While these benefits are great and necessary, if you ONLY do cardio there are negative effects (which can be balanced with resistance training and mobility):
- injuries such as heel spurs, and severe hip, knee and lower back injuries
- putting your body in a catabolic mode, whereby you begin to lose muscle mass. Loss of too much muscle can have a negative impact on your metabolism.
- chronic inflammation
Most people think of strength training and think of a meat head in the gym with a protein shake doing bicep curls. There is much more to it. Whether you are using a barbell and dumbbells or machines and resistance bands, anytime your body is using a load you are doing resistance training.
This is a critical part of exercise, especially for females. Many women feel like they will get “bulky” if they lift heavy weights (a common myth I am continually trying to break). The truth is, getting “toned” is about decreasing fat and using resistance training to gain muscle. here are the benefits:
- improved muscle strength and tone
- weight management and increased muscle-to-fat ratio
- decreased risk of injury
- increased bone density and strength, and reduced risk of osteoporosis
The negative effects include:
- learning curve (many effective exercises take a lot of time to learn with correct form)
- having to figure out your plan with so many options, everyone is different
- decreased range of motion
Mobility and flexibility go far beyond being able to touch your toes. This is a very important part of any exercise program. Many people skip this in favor of jumping right into their workout, but if you don’t take care of your range of motion something can easily get pulled or strained. This will end your ability to reach your goals as you will be on the side line. Here are some additional benefits:
- increased range of motion
- injury prevention
- increased circulation
Negative effects include:
- not metabolically active
- strength loss is a risk
So I know I have still left you wondering how much of each component should you do. There is a not a simple answer to that question, and I will reiterate that it starts with your GOAL to determine how much to balance cardio, resistance training, and mobility/flexibility. I encourage you to talk to a fitness expert (like me!) to help you figure out a plan to integrate these three fundamentals into your workout plan to achieve your goals. Stay tuned for my next post where I will provide a few examples of goals and breakdown how these three fundamentals should be balanced in different scenarios.
If you need some help to get started stop into a Merritt Athletic Clubs near you. With our results guarantee program you get a consultation with one of our Club Advisors (I’m at Fort Avenue) who are certified personal trainers and experts in helping people learn how to get started achieving their fitness goals. Have a workout on Merritt. Come try any Merritt Athletic Clubs free for one free workout: http://www.merrittclubs.com/membership/promotions/1-day-workout-pass.html
Author: David BenMoshe ACSM-CPT,FMS,CES
Club Advisor Merritt Athletic Clubs, Fort Ave
Above content provided by Merritt Athletic Club