So you’re going it alone without a trainer or an instructor – there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you have a general good grasp of what you need and want out out of your workouts. But what makes an effective workout? Here are some key pointers when it comes to planning out your exercise sessions:
Mix it up
Your workouts each week should consist of a mix of strength (weight bearing exercise like dumbells or yoga) and cardio (huffy puffy exercise like running or swimming). For a well-rounded exercise programme, there should also be elements of flexibility training (stretching, yoga) and balance. How you mix these up depends on what your goals are. If you’re trying to lose weight, have more cardio sessions a week. If you’re trying to tone up, aim for a little more strength workouts and flexibility/balance training.
Just to confuse you, you can also mix these elements up within a workout session. For example, half an hour cardio, 20 minutes strength training and 10 minutes flexibility/balance training at the end. This kind of training is especially good if you are time poor, because if you can only get it a properly planned workout a few times a week, you’ll know you’re at least getting all the parts done.
The reason people tend to get better results when they see a trainer is because they get guidance and support, they get pushed further than they normally would if they trained on their own, and they’re held accountable. The aim for you is to replicate these in your own training. If you’re trying a new exercise, read up on any technique tips to keep you injury-free and what you can do to make it more advanced as your progress. When you’re doing your exercise and you feel like you absolutely can’t do any more repetitions, give yourself five more reps.
When it comes to being held accountable, a couple of ways you can do this include getting a training buddy to work out with you, or telling friends, work colleagues or family members what you’re going to do so they ask about it or nag you until you do it!
Progression is key
Don’t stick to the same workouts every time. Giving yourself new exercises and challenging your body gives it reason to change. This is one of the key reasons people can hit a plateau, so change up your exercises at least every four to six weeks. If you use weights, make sure you make them heavier – even if it’s just by half a kilo – if they become too easy, or if it’s freeweights (barbells, dumbells) try more challenging variations if you don’t want to go any heavier.
Add elements of balance, combine it with another exercise, or you can use a different piece of equipment that’s the same weight. Think in different ways of movements – how can you do that same exercise forwards, backwards, sideways, diagonally… Just make sure the exercise is safe and that it won’t cause injury. This is your number one rule!
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