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What Type of Exercise Should I Do?

Compliance is the Science

The catchy phrase “compliance is the science” is an amazing rule of thumb to consider when choosing what type of exercise program to begin. Stan Efferding’s phrase serves as a reminder that the best type of exercise to get you in shape is one that you can reliably build into your weekly routine for an extended period of time. People have tons of choices on how to get their exercise: pilates, weightlifting, swimming, running, calisthenics, dancing, intramural soccer, etc. If your goal is to begin exercising and get into basic shape, then the best type of exercise is one that you find enjoyable and will actually do over the period of several months. Yes, it may take months before you notice significant changes to your fitness. 

What If I Have Specific Goals?

If you feel a vocation towards specific goals, then good job! Goal setting is an exciting way to guide your fitness journey. You can now begin training towards more specific areas of fitness like strength, mobility, cardio, etc. The first step is to lay the groundwork for your goal. [Here is an article about goal setting] Once you identify your intermediate goals and your timeline, you need to identify how to train for them. Having a personal trainer is a good way to ensure you’re taking an efficient path towards your goals. 

For example, if you have a specific goal of performing a 5 second handstand, then you will likely need to train shoulder mobility, wrist strength, and your sense of proprioception. You can begin by learning how to balance in a simpler pose like frog pose. For wrist strength, you can also add sets of “1st knuckle push ups”. As you progress, you should continue finding harder movements and work towards harder intermediate goals. If you remain consistent, sometimes for years, you will be ready to train your full handstand. 

Handstands are a more advanced but great long term goal to set for intermeidate-advanced athletes.

How to Begin Weightlifting

Weightlifting can be an intimidating space for beginners. You need to choose between hundreds of movements, it's hard to know if your form is good, and you need to choose how many sets, reps, timing, etc. Again, it is best to identify what your specific goals are. Do you want to build muscle? Do you want to become more lean? Do you want to become stronger? Do you want to improve your cardio? (Yes, you can do cardio in the weightroom as opposed to a cardio machine.)

Training for each of these goals is best done with a slightly different program. For example, an optimal muscle building (hypertrophy) workout will consist of: 3-5 movements, 3-5 sets with 7-12 reps to failure, and 60s breaks. You should also aim for about 12 sets per week per muscle group. You should keep training the same weight until you’re able to do 12 clean reps, then increase the weight so that you fail at 7. Over time this new weight will feel easier and you’ll hit 12 reps again, so you repeat the cycle. If you remain consistent and eat well, you will notice improvements. 

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” - John F Kennedy


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