It would perhaps be safe to say that within the last 6 to 7 years of my life I’ve tried out about every workout routine that I’ve found in a fitness magazine or that I found offered at my local gym. Though I am certainly not a body builder by any means, I do believe that through my experimentation I have managed to find a way to find balance in my workouts for my health goals.
I have done Pilates, yoga, zumba, weight lifting, running, cycling, elliptical, etc. At a younger age, I would tend to have one physical result in mind and follow a plan dedicated to that. Want flat abs? I’d do a lot of pilates. What to reduce stress? I’d do a lot of yoga. Want toned arms? I’d do a lot of weight lifting. Want to lose weight? I’d do a lot of cardio. The trouble with these methods, however, is that it would never produce a balanced body. During the periods where I did a lot of weight lifting along with some cardio, though I found myself with greater physical results, I was less flexible and had a greater risk of injury (and did, in fact, become injured). During the months when I would focus more on yoga and Pilates to focus more on “mind, body, and spirit”, I found myself easily reaching a plateau where the workout became too easy.
I’ve recently been following a routine (though it is always constantly changing, of course, based on what I feel my body needs) that allows me to take advantage of what many workouts offer so I am less likely to reach a plateau and get bored.
Monday: Strength training that includes the following:
– Squats with a bar with weights for one set of 50 reps and one set of 20 reps.
– Lunges with hand weights for one set of 50 reps.
– Push-ups for two sets for as many as I can at that time.
– Overhead triceps extension with hand weights for two sets for as many as I can at that time.
With my strength training, I’ve found that using free weights is the better option because it is more natural and can better prevent injury. To decide the weight to use, I go with whatever allows me to comfortably do the reps but still gives me enough resistance. Once I feel that it has become too easy then I add weight. I’ve also discovered that it’s very important to use whey protein when doing strength training like this for the best results. Since I only do this on Mondays, I have a whey protein shake both before and after my workout. On Mondays after weight lifting, I will often do about 20 to 30 minutes of cardio, which may include: cycling, elliptical, running, or walking at a high incline.
Tuesday/Thursday: Yoga class in a vinyasa form that includes the following and more:
– Forward bends
– Inversion poses
– Standing/balance poses
– Warrior poses
– And more!
I’ve found that yoga can become quite stagnant without a good instructor and/or a consistent personal motivation to push yourself to become better and try new poses (no matter how challenging they may appear!). The truth is that yoga is only as difficult as you think it is — if you can clear your mind then you can do nearly anything. My personal goal is to one day be able to do a head or hand stand with ease. I’ve also found my yoga workouts to be the most crucial because it keeps you flexible while also building strength and also keeps your body balanced.
Wednesday: Zumba and ab workout/Pilates that includes the following moves that I’ve felt are the most important:
– Bicycle ab crunch for 30 reps
– The hundred (hold legs at at least a 75 degree angle for 100 counts)
– Scissor kick for 30 reps
– Ball crunch (crunches while sitting on an exercise ball) for 30 reps
– Plank for a minute or two
– Ball exchange (holding exercise ball between legs and lifting up to grab with hands and bring down, then lift ball back up to grab with legs again) for 30 reps
Friday: Cardio of your choice! I’ve do any of the following and sometimes even do more than just one, but as long as it adds up to 30 minutes:
– Walking at high incline
Overall what I have learned is best for me is that by consistently changing my workouts it not only never becomes boring, but it also never allows me to reach a plateau where exercise becomes too easy.