As a personal trainer for 8 years now I’ve learned that each one of us has our own preferences when it comes to finding enjoyable exercises. I’ve worked with clients that would prefer to jog on the treadmill for 45 minutes straight to break a sweat, while some want nothing to do with anything related to cardio. Surely you could argue that neither is in the wrong because Hey, at least heir exercising right? Well, yes you could say that but you could also say that they are probably spending a lot of their time exercising while gaining very little of the benefits that exercise is supposed to provide.
So the question is, what is it that they are missing? The answer is balance. A biased fitness routine is the ultimate killer of progress. While running on the treadmill for 45 minutes five days a week may be enjoyable to you, and no one is saying that it shouldn’t be, it’s keeping you from doing other things that could be helping your body become stronger, leaner, and more flexible. The same could be said for those who only lift weights or only do mobility regiments like yoga and Pilates.
A balanced combination of all of the above can lead to much better results on the scale and in your clothing size. Not to mention the slew of health benefits such as a higher metabolism (for controlling your weight), stronger muscles and joints, stronger heart and lungs, and better mobility and balance.
Here is a take on a couple of different exercise modalities and how much of each we think you should be doing.
Weight Training (Also known as Resistance Training)
Many will argue that this is the most important part of a person’s fitness regimen and I would agree. However, I would like to note that because I think it’s the most important I certainly don’t think that it should be the only form of exercise you do. Benefits of lifting weights would include stronger and leaner muscle mass, stronger and more stable joints, and a higher metabolism. To be fair I’ll list some of the risks of weight training as well. They include injuries such as strains and tears due to improper form and intensity, and in some cases can lead to weight gain when the goal is to lose weight instead (in these cases other factors do apply such as improper diet).
I typically recommend to my clients to try and find 2-3 days a week to dedicate to a resistance training workout.
Many people will argue that steady state cardio is the ultimate weight loss strategy. I tend to disagree with this philosophy. I will say that you do burn more calories within a 45-minute span of cardio than you would in a 45-minute span of lifting weights. However, once you are done with your cardio session so is the calorie burn. Weightlifting comes with an after-burn where you continue to burn even after you are done with your session resulting to more calories burnt overall. I’m certainly not against steady state cardio I actually think it is a very important part of a person’s overall general health and fitness. Benefits of cardio include increased heart and lung capacity as well as quicker recovery times.
I like to prescribe to my clients to try to find 1-2 days a week to commit to a steady state cardio workout. We also like to use short cardio workouts as warmups before a strength training session.
Yoga and Pilates
I’ve never personally been involved in a Yoga or Pilates program myself but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them or think that they don’t have some really great benefits to them. I will say that I believe these two modalities really work best as a supplemental piece to a good weight lifting program. I have found that the clients I have worked with that had experience in either of these two modalities were very easy to train because they had great body awareness and really picked up on the exercises quickly. Further, they had really great mobility and limited restrictions on the types of exercises that we could do. Some of the disadvantages I found with these same clients was that they were not very strong and they had very low capacity to perform any kind of high intensity exercise.
I would recommend going to a yoga or pilates class 2-4 times a month. I would incorporate a good amount of flexibility and mobility training within a weight lifting session and use yoga or Pilates strictly as a supplement to that.