If you are doing the Exercise Challenge, we’re one week in! Keep going! Forming those healthy habits can get tough, but, once you ingrain those habits, it just becomes a part of life. If you’d still like to join, you can! Just exercise every day for the rest of the month of August.
Incorporating the Components of Fitness into Your Exercise Routine
There is a plethora of fitness routines out there… CrossFit? Yoga? Marathons? Walking? Water Aerobics? What is the best workout out there and which one is the best path to reaching your goals? We’ve been through a few of the basics, but this post will help you understand why it is important to include different types of exercises in your routine. It also offers more specifics of how you can balance your routine with a variety of activities to: (1) reach your specific goals, (2) receive maximum health benefits, and (3) keep your interest peaked.
Components of Fitness- why are they each important?: In an earlier post, I briefly mentioned the Components of Fitness. These are the different building blocks of exercise that should be incorporated into a workout routine for balance, the best health benefits, and injury prevention. Each of the components is essential to keeping your body healthy. Let’s take a look at the description of each of these components:
Cardiovascular Endurance: This type of exercise gets your heart rate accelerated for a considerable amount of time.
The Benefits: Cardio, simply put, gives your heart a workout. Your heart is made up of muscle tissue, so it needs to be worked out just like every other muscle in the body. However, the heart has the most vital role of any of our muscles, so keeping it healthy should be a priority. The CDC recommends at least “10 minute bouts”, but 30 minutes or more at a time will be the most beneficial. They recommend 75- 150 minutes a week, depending on the intensity level.
Specific Benefits of Different Intensities: If you want to analyze the intensity and effects of your cardio workout, utilize your heart rate. Start by calculating your body’s max heart rate (220- your age). This chart breaks down activity benefits based on percentage of your max heart rate. Keep in mind, the “Light” activity range may be more beneficial to burning fat; however, you are burning calories at a slower rate. If weight or fat loss is your goal, mixing up different ranges in intervals or HITT workouts can be very beneficial.
Cardio and Bulking: For those trying to increase the size of their muscles (mostly men), cardio has gotten a bad rap. There is a downside to cardio exercises if they are done for a long amount of time at a steady rate. When muscle tissue is broken down by these slow, steady exercises, it rebuilds in a slimmer (slow-twitch) way to adapt to this type of exercise. This is the opposite of what a person wants if they are trying to get larger muscles! The solution to this is the interval option, mixing high and low intensity, burning more fat and still giving the heart the workout it needs. Sprints or short interval runs can be a good option. Also, doing it separately from your lift (on a different day or in the evening if you lifted in the morning) seems to prevent you from tapping into the wrong type of energy as well.
Examples: walking, running, swimming, biking, elliptical, recumbent bike, dance, stationary bike, arm bike, stair climber, HIIT, cross-country skiing, aerobics classes, and anything that keeps your heart rate elevated for a longer duration (recent studies have found that cardio intervals, higher intensity followed by moderate intensity, for a shorter period of time can have similar benefits to a lower-moderate intensity static pace for a longer period of time; each still are beneficial)
Muscular Endurance: This component of fitness taxes specific muscles for a considerable amount of time, usually 3 minutes or more of total time. While performing cardiovascular endurance activities, you are also utilizing one or more muscle groups; therefore, cardiovascular and muscular endurance exercises overlap. However, lifting lighter weights for 2-4 sets of more repetitions (12-20) can increase muscular endurance as well.
The Benefits: Improving your muscular endurance improves your overall ability to perform daily tasks like carrying groceries, climbing the stairs, or walking around while touring a new city. Your overall energy and abilities are maximized.
Examples: walking, running, swimming, biking, elliptical, recumbent bike, dance, stationary bike, arm bike, stair climber, HIIT, cross-country skiing, aerobics classes, lifting weights with high reps at low intensity, yoga
Muscular Strength: The difference between muscular strength and muscular endurance is that strength is how much or how hard a muscle works, whereas endurance is how long it can work for. Strength exercises include short bursts of activity that tax your muscles, breaking down your muscle fibers. Your body rebuilds these muscle fibers stronger than they were before during recovery. This is why it is recommended to take one or more days off in between strengthening exercises.
The Benefits: The CDC recommends muscular strength activities for each of your muscle groups at least twice a week. Strength training is one of the best things to add into your routine because it increases strength for daily activities, increases metabolism, decreases fat tissue, help prevent osteoporosis and bone loss, and help you maintain your balance and coordination as you age. See the picture for additional benefits!
Strength Activities and Bulking: Oftentimes, muscular strength activities are avoided by people (especially women) who don’t want to bulk up. The truth is that women physiologically cannot bulk up because of the high levels of estrogen in their bodies. Most women who are very buff utilize specific supplements, have a very regimented diet, and are not the true picture of what lifting weights does to a typical woman’s body. Plus, if you haven’t heard, fit is the new skinny!
Examples: lifting weights, body weight exercises, resistance band training, HIIT
Flexibility: This is the ease with which you can move your body in different ways. Flexibility exercises do not have to be an entire yoga session. Simply adding stretches at the end your workouts is an easy way to include this component. Static stretches (stretches held for a long amount of time) are best left for the end of a workout as part of a cool down; whereas dynamic exercises (stretching the body through movement) are the best option for a warm-up. https://www.manvsweight.com/dynamic-stretching-exercises/
The Benefits: Flexibility exercises help prevent injury, help maintain and increase mobility, and speed up recovery. Your blood flow increases to the areas you stretch, providing this variety of benefits.
Examples: yoga, static stretching, pilates, dynamic exercises
Body Composition: This is what your body is composed of, specifically your muscle to fat ratio. This component is one that is deeply dependent on nutrition. You may have read in my earlier post that if you are looking to lose weight, exercise needs to be viewed as only a small piece of the weightloss puzzle. However, it is a component of fitness because it is a key ingredient to your body’s overall fitness level. Exercise also helps keep your body’s muscle composition up and fat composition down.
Take a look at the “optimal range” for body fat percentage. Note that BMI (body mass index) and body fat percentage are two different things. According to the BMI, some athletes who have an extremely low body fat percentage may be considered overweight or obese because of their high muscle composition. So, body fat is actually a better measure of overall health. Here is one way you can calculate your body fat percentage. However, electric impedance (viewed in picture) tests, which your doctor, company, or gym may have, are much more accurate tests.
Balancing the Components of Fitness in Your Routine to get the Results You Want: There are so many ways you can put all of these compositions together into a routine! The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that you are going to get maximum health results by incorporating all of the Components of Fitness in your routine. A second great benefit is that you won’t do the same thing every day, which means you are much more likely to stay interested in your routine and, therefore, much more likely to stick with it! A third benefit is if you have a variety of different workouts you are comfortable doing and enjoy doing, you are less likely to let circumstances (travel, weather, time, etc) affect your routine.
Overall, make your workout routine one that:
- Pushes you to get healthier
- Is realistic for your schedule, environment, and capabilities,
- Will help you reach your specific goals
- You look forward to every day.
If it isn’t doing this, change it up!
Examples of Workouts to Reach Your Goals: I have included five different workout recommendations for the following goals:
- Long Distance Running
- Muscle Bulking
- Muscle Toning/Fat Loss
- Muscle Strengthening
- Maintenance/Overall Health
These are just examples, but above each chart is a general recommendation for strength and endurance activities for each goal. Notice, there is always at least one rest day after lifting a specific muscle group, which is key to letting your muscles recover.
***Warm-up with dynamic stretches and cool down with static stretching for flexibility for each goal.***
Training for a Long Distance Runner: Try to incorporate 2-3 days of strength training and 4-6 days of endurance
**Recent studies have shown that strength workouts actually improve the pace and endurance of long distance runners, so going into the 8-12 rep range for lifts is another option.
Training for Increased Muscle Size/Bulking: Try to incorporate 3-4 days of strength and 2-3 days of endurance
Training for Muscle Tone/Fat Loss: Same as bulking, except add some body weight HIIT (w/ shorter intervals) to the end of Lifting Days.
Training for Strength: Same as bulking, except lower your reps to the 2-6 range
Training for All-Around Health: Try to incorporate 2-4 days of strength a week along with 3-6 days of endurance
Email: As always, feel free to email me with any specific questions, comments, or ideas! firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: To see more blog posts and health info, see my website: wholeehealthy.wordpress.com
Challenge: To join our current Exercise Challenge on Facebook, follow my Wholee Healthy page and find the event
YouTube: To watch health tutorials, subscribe to my Wholee Healthy YouTube vlog channel
***Coming Soon: A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss: Getting Your Mindset Right!
“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an event, it is a habit.”