What fits your plan?

What fits your plan?

If your goal is to run a marathon, a workout that focuses only on running is not going to be effective. If weight loss is your goal, mere cardio workout won’t do. You need to know how to pick the right fitness programme that meets your needs, informs Anjali Sareen

Decided to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle? Good. Now how do you do that? It’s quite a daunting task, given how, today, we are really quite spoilt for choice, in terms of the variety of fitness programmes on offer.

It is no longer a simple process of signing up for a gym membership or enrolling for some group exercise classes; that fact alone could derail you from your healthy intentions!

To be able to make a good choice, you will need clarity over the following: 

Your fitness levelsYour current fitness levels will be an important factor in achieving success in your programme. Remember that it will be a step-by-step process to reach your goals and the pace will be defined by your current fitness levels and how your body responds to the training programme. 

Your abilities and limitations

Any medical concerns or past history that can affect your exercise should also be cleared by your doctor before you start any fitness programme. Those who have had injuries, previously, better go in for suitable tests, after consulting a doctor, before pursuing any workout. 

Activities of your interest  

Often we may be persuaded by others to join them in programmes that they find effective or enjoy. However, it is important to keep in mind that what may be suitable or effective for someone else may not necessarily be the same for you.

Starting with a programme that doesn’t interest you will probably lead to you giving up easily.

Time and money you can afford

It is important to be realistic about how often you can workout, how much time you can regularly allocate, and how much money you can afford to spend on your choice of workout. This will avoid frustration and dropping out of the programme. 

An effective fitness programme should compulsorily include the following:

* Cardiovascular conditioning: A good cardio programme is an effective way to train and condition the heart, burn calories and increase efficiency for varied activities. A warm-up of sorts.

* Resistance training: It helps to keep you strong by increasing lean muscle mass that leads to a higher metabolism, while also yielding greater energy.

* Functional fitness: It consists of core training, which focuses on strengthening the body from the inside out (especially the abs, back and hips) and creating better, more efficient movement patterns. 

* Flexibility and balance training: The idea is to help the body get stronger and deal better with daily activities as well as specialised workouts. It also helps decrease the risk of stress and injury. 

Often, in an effort to get all of the elements, people tend to take on several activities and then find themselves unable to cope up. Fortunately, there are programmes available that allow one to get multiple benefits from each session.

For instance, interval training classes also offer resistance training and endurance building. Even pilates classes include the benefits of core, resistance and strength training.

What are your goals?

Goals form the foundation of an effective workout programme. For instance, if your goal is to run a marathon, a plan that only focuses on running is not going to be effective.

You need to ensure that you have core and flexibility training included in your plan. If weight loss is your goal, doing hours of daily cardio exercise alone will not help.

You will need to incorporate core training (to ensure effective and efficient movements with joint stability) and resistance training (to shape and define muscles as you lose weight).

Or, if you are training for a specific sport, you would do good to ensure that your fitness programme will include drills and movements that can enhance your performance in that specific sport.

Therefore, deciding what you want to achieve with your programme is an important step in deciding what it should comprise of:

* Losing weight 

* Increasing stamina 

* Building muscle

* Participating in a sport 

* Enjoying an active vacation 

* Reducing risk of injury

* Rehabilitation

* Medical reason

* Decreasing stress

* Increasing flexibility

* A combination of the above

If you are looking for a combination workout, then cross-training is for you. Cross-training is, basically, a programme that has varied exercise routines and/or is based on activities that you enjoy such as dancing, cycling, swimming and the like, to ensure that you stay focussed. Cross-training also helps to maintain the energy and intensity of your efforts, while keeping boredom away. 

Therefore, it is important to have clarity in goal setting. It will ensure that your programme has the right combination of activities and training methods to enable you better success in your programme. But do keep in mind that a good nutrition plan incorporating sensible, realistic eating habits is necessary.  

Remember, the most important factor in choosing the right fitness programme is ‘you’. That means knowing clearly the ‘why’ of what you are setting out to do.  Because when you feel you own the workout, you have higher chances of getting the results you desire. And if you’re still struggling to choose the right programme, seek guidance from a reputed and experienced fitness professional.

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