Updated: Oct 22, 2021
There are many workout styles often talked about in the health and fitness world, it can get a bit confusing! Find out what each style means and make informed decisions about which works best for you and your goals.
Firstly, there is no right or wrong type of exercise!
Getting your body moving and feeling good will look different on everyone. Whether you love strength training at the gym, hiking, cycling, team sports, pilates, yoga, group fitness, walking, swimming or running marathons, if it works for you that's PERFECT!
The best type of exercise is one that is consistent.
Also known as resistance training or weight training.
Strength training is any type of training where your muscles are working against an opposing force - think dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, machines like the leg press and even bodyweight movements such as push ups or squats.
The idea here is that you are working your muscles, causing them damage and forcing them to adapt and grow stronger.
To increase your strength and gain muscle from this type of training, you need to be continually progressing. This is called progressive overload and can be done by manipulating the number of reps, sets, rest periods or increasing weight - essentially you are working your muscles harder and they then get stronger so they can handle the increased work placed on them.
Strength training is beneficial to everybody, particularly as we get older. It helps us with day to day movements, increases bone density and is great for weight management - the more muscle we have on our bodies, the more calories we burn daily. This is a topic for another blog!
Short for High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT training involves short bursts of work at your maximum level, followed by short rest periods before you work again. These sessions are not long - anything from 10-20 minutes. The reason for this is, working at our true maximum level can only be done for short periods of time. Longer sessions turn into more cardio based workouts (which we cover below).
HIIT workouts can involve many different exercises - from sprints, rowing, bodyweight movements like burpees, push ups or squats and even lighter weighted exercises. You can absolutely do a HIIT workout without any jumping - trust me!
The idea here, is that you work to your maximum level, so you NEED the recovery. By the end of the session, you should feel like you don't have a lot left in the tank.
Here is where I make an IMPORTANT point - these sessions are extremely taxing on your body when they are done as a true HIIT workout. They should only be done once or twice a week - to actually put the effort in that a HIIT workout requires, your body needs to be recovered and ready to go. You are pushing your body to it's limits and forcing it to adapt - just like strength training mentioned above.
This is why HIIT is such an efficient way of increasing your fitness quickly. Also, like strength training, HIIT will increase the amount of energy you burn throughout the day, even when not exercising.
Elevating that heart rate!
Cardio is any form of exercise or movement that raises your heart rate and keeps it up for an extended period of time. This can include just about anything! Jogging, walking your dog, group fitness classes, cycling or swimming. Even vacuuming, gardening and lifting weights can be a form of cardio - as long as your heart rate is up, you're doing it!
Cardio based exercise is important for the health of our heart. The heart is a muscle after all so we need to work it to strengthen it! As your heart becomes stronger and your body becomes more efficient, you will notice your fitness increasing. Maybe you don't get as puffed walking uphill, or your running times have improved - signs that your hard work is paying off!
Cardio differs to HIIT in that during cardio sessions, heart rate is elevated but stays relatively steady. Whereas, during a HIIT workout as you push hard through the working phases your heart rate will spike, then dip as you move into a recovery phase.
Flexibility and Mobility
Stretching and keeping our muscles and joints happy!
Often overlooked but so important! How many of us just jump straight into a workout without warming up, or fail to stretch our poor muscles out after a hard session?!
Flexibility and mobility work is not only super beneficial to all other aspects of training, but also in our daily lives. Stiff and sore bodies are not that much fun to move around in!
Adding in a warm up and cool down, one longer stretching session a week and even some Pilates or Yoga into your routine will have positive benefits all round, not to mention reduce your risk of injury. Think squatting deeper, jumping higher and recovering better.
Pilates and Yoga are particularly great for mind muscle connection, deep core strength, balance and working on all the smaller supporting muscles within your body.
If you're not sure where to start, there are some great channels on YouTube you can access from the comfort of your own home - this is one of my favourites!
Obviously the more we move our bodies, the more energy we burn through - our bodies were made to move! Along with a nutritious diet, any type of movement is beneficial to keeping our bodies and minds healthy!
Ultimately, choosing the right style of workout for you comes down to your goals and what you actually LIKE doing. Each type has it's benefits and if you were to focus solely on one, each will give different results.
If you have any questions about anything mentioned here, or would like to chat about personal training or a tailored programme, please don't hesitate to get in touch! One of the Four Peak Fitness team would love to help you out!