The scope of fitness and workout has evolved with time. Now, it’s not just about looking fit in appearance anymore; rather one must feel fit from within. Fitness is now considered to be the ideal combination of strength, flexibility, endurance and body composition. With drastic lifestyle changes people are putting more effort to take care of their wearing bodies.
To overcome the side effects of poor lifestyles there are increasing expectations from the fitness world. And wow! it has found the answers in form of multiple fitness workouts. Be it aerobics, HIIT, Pilates, CrossFit, boot camps, strength training or yoga; various forms of Fitness Workouts are gaining fast popularity and fetching you remarkable result. Split for choices, it often becomes very difficult to zero in on the workout regimes to pursue. So here we enlist the few popular types of workouts to help you decide which one can work best for you depending upon your resources, capabilities and bodily constraints.
Aerobics is an umbrella term spanning across various fitness exercises that can make your body sweat profusely, your lungs breathe faster, and cardiovascular system pump the blood faster for a considerable duration. The aim of this Fitness Workout is to improve the oxygen consumption (VO2 max) and cardiovascular function through a wide spectrum of moderate intensity exercises such as walking, running, hiking, dancing, kick boxing, rowing, cardio machines, etc.
These exercises fill up your lungs with oxygen and elevate your heart rate. Consequently, the blood delivers more oxygen to your muscles which help them in burning more body fat. Although it can be done individually but getting enrolled in formal aerobic classes, where you can harmonize your exercises with music is definitely a much more enjoyable way to burn your calories. In many such classes the instructor plans the moves according to the fitness level of the participants. A good aerobics session comprises of a warm up period, cardiovascular conditioning, muscular conditioning and strengthening, cool down period followed by some stretches. Besides the physical fitness, aerobics is an excellent mode of rejuvenation.
Aerobics or cardio workout is good for your cardio respiratory health. It pushes your cardiovascular function to perform better and thus protects you from various heart diseases. It not only keeps you in shape but also helps in improving the bone density, flexibility and endurance. This form of Fitness Workout is a good remedy against chronic pains and lifestyle disorders such as Diabetes, Depression, Anxiety, Alzheimer’s, Insomnia and Stress.
Caution: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, which allow you to move freely as aerobic workout involves continuous movements. Never miss your warm up and cool down sessions before and after this workout.
Zumba is an amalgamation of dance moves and aerobic movements performed on the beats of different styles of music. It is an indoor workout which is often done in classes lead by trained instructors. Although it can also be done at home with the help of Zumba DVDs, but classes are more fun. When you perform this dance workout in a group, your workout sessions turn into dance parties. One Zumba class usually lasts for about an hour and usually 2-3 such classes per week are sufficient. But once you get into the groove, you will love to do this Fitness Workout every day.
It is a type of interval workout which requires you to keep alternating between fast and slow beats. Zumba incorporates moderate to high intensity movements to raise your heart rate along with some light resistance training. Various forms of Zumba have now evolved to cater specific needs of people of various age-groups. Zumbatomic is specifically designed for children of 4-12 yrs of age, while Zumba Gold is for senior age group. Zumba Aqua is a style of water-aerobics which goes easy on the joints. Those who want to achieve well-toned muscles can go for Zumba Toning as it includes some strength training exercises. There are also few other forms like Zumba in circuit, Zumba basic 1 and basic 2. There are also wheelchair zumba classes for people with physical disabilities. Your instructor can help you decide which one is right for you.
Zumba is a form of cardio workout so it is great for your heart health. It improves flexibility, balance, core strength, energy endurance and strengthens your muscles. It reduces the risk of Diabetes and helps in weight loss. Dancing your heart out in Zumba classes is a good way to de-stress yourself and to boost your mood.
Caution: Avoid this workout if you have any mobility issues, injuries or medical conditions like arthritis, back troubles, knee pain, for zumba involves continuous high impact movements. For the same reason, it is not recommended for pregnant women, too.
In today’s busy world where paucity of time is one of the biggest hurdles for almost everything, including our health and fitness, High Intensity Interval Training workout has come as a saviour. A session of HIIT can be as short as 4 minutes to as long as 30 minutes and 2-3 such sessions per week are adequate. Moreover, it does not require any set-up or gym equipment’s.
All you need to invest is your will power, 10 by 10 feet training area and a few precious minutes from your daily chores. It is a very flexible workout as there are no constraints on the type and sequence of exercises. From outdoor activities like running, hiking, cycling, swimming, etc. to indoor gym activities like treadmill, planks, push-ups, burpees, squats, lounges etc.; you may opt for any cardio or strength training exercise as per your fitness level and preferences.
The only rule to follow here is to keep alternating between short & intense activity periods and resting periods until you cannot maintain the intensity any longer. During an activity period, the participant is expected to perform his moves with extreme intensity level every single time. It is followed by resting periods of a few seconds and then another round of activity period continues. To maintain consistent intensity levels throughout the session, is of utmost importance, even if it requires you to cut down on the number of iterations and duration of the activity periods.
HIIT is one of the best workouts for those who are aiming for faster weight loss. By improving the metabolism and VO2 max, it burns calories, tones your muscles, stimulates your hormones and improves your overall stamina. It is also good for pre-diabetics and diabetics as it improves glucose metabolism, too. The best part is that it can be easily incorporated in anyone’s schedule due to its flexibility, short duration and lesser number of sessions.
Caution: Before taking up this fascinating regime, you must keep in mind that HIIT is a challenging full body workout which requires you to perform your exercises at extreme level in every single bout. Every session ends with sore muscles and exhausted body. The risk of injury is also significant. Therefore, it requires a lot of commitment and will power to continue with this fitness regimen.
This ancient discipline from India has now gained cult status across the globe. With simple stretches and controlled breathing to complex and fast changing postures, yoga has a wide range of exercises to offer for people of various fitness levels and age groups. It increases your flexibility, tones and strengthens your muscles, and improves your overall health and immune system. Besides the physical attributes the calmness, serenity and positivity it brings to your body & mind is unmatchable by any other fitness regime. With time Yoga has evolved tremendously and currently there are 9 major styles of yoga in practice that are different from each other in terms of their styles, pace and intensity. There are subtle forms like Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Restorative yoga and Iyengar yoga which focus on holding to various postures and breathing techniques.
On the other hand, there are dynamic forms like Ashtanga Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga which require you to keep changing your postures at a fast pace, often accompanied by music. A couple of styles of yoga i.e. Bikram yoga and Hot yoga are performed under a heated environment. Another form is Kundalini Yoga which focuses on dynamic breathing and repeated body movements along with chanting of mantras. Some of these forms use the same sequence of asanas while in others there are no such restraints. Albeit all the difference, these yoga styles have their own benefits and one may try each of them to find out the one that works best, or which is most enjoyable.
Intensity level: low, medium, high
workout benefits of yoga are not only limited to your physical appearance, but also your mental well being. It calms your mind and fills you with a lot of positive energy. It is one workout that can also act as a remedy to various health conditions, like diabetes, chronic pains, hypertension, insomnia, anxiety & depression. Yoga is considered as one of the best Fitness Workouts for pregnant and nursing mothers. The best part about yoga is one can always start with gentle yogic exercise and can increase the intensity as per self-comfort level over a period. The risk of injury is low. It also improves your concentration level and is very simple to set up-all you need is a mat and good ambience.
Caution: It is important to follow good lifestyle habits when you pursue yoga as a workout. For example, you must wake up early, take a sound 8-hour sleep and go for a satvik diet. The best time to perform yoga is morning or evening. It should be performed on empty stomach. Although most of the asanas look simple but it’s recommended to learn them from a trained instructor and follow the guidelines of the yogic style, if any.
Functional fitness workout
If you are someone, who is not chasing any specific fitness goals through your workout regimen and only aim to improve your overall flexibility and strength of your muscles, then Functional Fitness workout is certainly the best workout for you. It works on all muscles of our body collectively and teach them how to work in integration. The exercises in Functional Fitness training are rooted in the common movements we perform in our everyday activities. No wonder that although the term Functional Fitness Workout has been coined only recently but when you look at the exercises you get the feel that you have been doing them forever.
The aim here is simply to achieve good strength, balance, agility and coordination of your muscles and thus to prepare them for performing the daily tasks swiftly and safely. Functional fitness workout techniques generally incorporate multi-dimensional moves that employ multiple muscle groups of your body simultaneously like different variations of squats, lunges, push, pulls and dead lifts done in various planes of motion. Beginners must start Functional Fitness training with simple body weight exercises and as they progress they may switch to resistance and stability using props like gym balls, kettle bells, dumbbells and weights.
It is often recommended to club functional fitness exercises with traditional strength training workout. While strength training exercises work on individual muscles; functional training exercises target complete muscle groups. So, the blend of both types of exercises can be the perfect all-round recipe for your eventual fitness goals. Advanced forms of functional training are often done by athletes and fitness freaks but for the rest of us simple functional training exercises are sufficient to work wonders. Taking breaks in between rounds is vital for good efficiency. In essence, you must stretch as far as your stamina allows.
Functional Fitness Training is known to improve the quality of life by making daily chores easy for you. By working on your joints, posture, energy endurance, strength and coordination of muscles, it keeps you fit and moving. It also reduces the risk of injuries in day to day life by improving your balance and agility, which makes it a recommended workout for aging adults.
Caution: Remember, the idea is never about exerting yourself. Perform the moves as long as you are comfortable doing them. You may reduce the resting periods to shorter duration but never skip them completely. Avoid this workout in case you are suffering from any injury or if you have any mobility issues.
This is a distinctive form of workout, which is inspired from the self-defence techniques of Israeli armed forces collectively known as Krav Maga. It is considered to be the best self defence system across the globe. Krav maga aims at brushing up your body’s natural refluxes for self-defence and for targeting physical frailties & vulnerabilities of your attacker. It incorporates basic techniques of various combat sports like Boxing, Wrestling, Aikido Judo, Muay Thai and realistic fight trainings. When perused as a fitness program, the krav maga moves are clubbed with few cardio exercises and are performed in circuit style to give you an action-packed fitness session.
Every move of this heavy workout whether it is fighting stance, knee strikes, elbow strike, hammer fist, palm heel strike and many more, pushes you to go beyond your comfort zone. As this is an intensive form of workout, taking breaks in between the bouts is crucial to get the desired results. Your instructor can help you in planning such breaks according to your fitness level. The requirements for this self-defence workout are very minimal; just a comfortable training area, a punching bag, your sneakers and certified instructor. To reap the fitness benefits from this heavy workout it is vital to gradually practice the krav maga moves until they become ingrained in your muscle memory.
Intensity level: High
The most obvious benefit of this fitness program is that it strengthens your self-defence by teaching you simple yet swift, agile and powerful body movements that are easy to learn. The blend of punches, blocks, kicks and strikes give you an intensive full body workout which improves your metabolism, cardiovascular function & body coordination. It also targets your mental agility and trains you to remain calm and attentive even in highly stressful environments.
Caution: Finding a good and certified instructor is essential for this workout. It is important to learn the krav maga techniques correctly before endorsing them to achieve your fitness goals. Although these workout sessions are intensive, yet one has to be cautious of overexerting as it may cause more damage to the body muscles and hamper the results.
The quick contraction and extension of our muscles while making any movement, is known as stretch shortening cycle. Plyometric is a training model focused on this stretch-shortening cycle of human muscles to improve balance, agility, speed and muscular strength. Any plyometric exercise can be divided into three parts; eccentric, amortization and concentric. During the eccentric part muscle is stretched, during concentric it is shortened, and amortization is the short resting period in between these two phases. Amidst repetitions the participant aims at reducing the duration of the middle phase in order to perform the moves faster and better.
Often employed by athletes to improve their performance, this intensive training program is not for newbies as it involves a lot of rapid and vigorous movements like repeated jumps, bounce, twists & turns etc. Plyometric is generally used to train basketball, tennis, volleyball players, athletes and footballers. Those who want to start with this regime should first incorporate some plyo exercises in their regular fitness routine and then slowly increase the intensity. Later one may also add weights in the form of a barbell, trap bar, dumbbells or weighted vest to make these exercises more challenging.
Plyometric is a great Fitness Workout for those who are looking to boost their balance, agility, strength, flexibility and powerful muscles. It serves as a worthy alternative if you are bored with traditional slow strength training workouts. It is the most recommended training system for professional athletes. With explosive and intense moves, plyometric improves the cardiovascular function, metabolic rate and also helps in recovering from certain injuries.
Caution: Before subscribing to this fitness regime one needs to attain certain level of fitness. This training is taxing and involves a high risk of injuries. Therefore, people with medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, arthritis, joint pain, any physical limitation or pregnancy, should avoid it completely.
If you are in the search of a workout that can be customized for your fitness needs, then Pilates is the one to go for. From beginners to fitness nerds, from seniors to dancers and soldiers; Pilates can be tailored as per one’s fitness index. Also known as Contrology, this Fitness Workout is based on Six Pilates Principles of cantering, control, flow, breath, precision and concentration. By concentrating on apt pelvic and spinal alignment and correct breathing pattern, Pilates workout works on your flexibility, core strength, balance, endurance and conditioning of the muscles. Pilates supports correct body movement and is therefore endorsed by many physiotherapists and orthopaedic surgeons.
The exercises range widely in terms of intensity and speed which is why it is appreciated by all. Beginners should start with individual Pilates mat classes in which various body weight exercises are performed on a mat to improve strength and stamina. Gradually one may advance to group classes in which various Pilates equipment’s (such as reformer, Cadillac, stability chair, the ladder barrel, the spine corrector and the arc barrel) are also introduced to strengthen and stretch the muscles by adding graduated level of resistance. Pilates keeps you stretched all the while and for every move you think you’ve perfected, it offers another slightly different and more complex variant.
It is one unique workout program where you don’t have to aim for too many repetitions to get desired result but rather focus on performing every move with acute precision. With a lot of emphasis on correct breathing, Pilates is recommended for mental well being as well.
Pilates targets legs, arms, buttocks, back, pelvic and abdominal muscles. It improves our balance, agility, flexibility, coordination, core strength and tones our muscles too. Moreover it aids in the treatment of various injuries and chronic joint pains especially back pain. Teaches correct posture, body movement and breathing. Pilates, unlike most other workouts doesn’t leave you exhausted but rather rejuvenated and refreshed.
Caution: The efficiency of this workout depends completely on the precision with which you perform your moves. Notwithstanding the low risk of injury, you should be careful while using weights and equipment’s and don’t overexert yourself.
In simple words this is the workout where you get trained with weights to improve your muscles and strength. Strength training exercises should be integral to every fitness plan as they not only build your stamina but also help you to restrain the muscle mass as you lose calories through your workout or with age. Lean muscles and increased endurance improve your capacity to do the exercises. Beginners must start strength training with body weight exercises like squats, push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, etc. in which the only resistance applied is one’s own body weight.
It’s important that you practice the moves until you master the technique and thereafter introduce additional resistance in the form of dumbbells, hand weights, barbells, weight machines, inflatable balls and resistance bands. Settling for the right sum of weights is crucial in this form of training. It must make you feel the resistance while completing the sets and lets you breathe too. Adding more weights can damage your muscles and less weight defeats the purpose.
Try out a variety of strength training exercises as each one targets different muscle groups of our body. Give ample rest to your body to recover completely before going for the next session. Just 20-30 minutes of strength training twice a week can fetch you amazing results.
As the name suggests, strength training makes you stronger and keeps you in good shape. It builds up your stamina and helps you to burn more calories. These exercises also help you in gaining stronger bones and leaner muscles.
Caution: It is vital to perform these exercises under good supervision as the risk of injury is high. One must practice the move well before adding weights. Warm-ups are more important in this regimen specially to avoid sprains and other forms of muscle injuries.
If you are fatigued by your regular Fitness Workout programs, then Circuit Training is the best way to make it challenging and interesting. As the name suggests, the basic idea of circuit training is to perform a specific sequence of few exercises one after the other with minimal/ no rest in between. It is an adaptable workout regime in a way that it lets you decide the exercises you want to perform in such training sessions. You may either choose aerobic exercises or strength training exercises or may also opt for a few exercises from both the categories. With the help of your instructor, plan your circuit with exercises that target different muscle groups of your body in order to get an intense full body workout.
Usually people club 5-10 exercises in circuit training. You have to be well versed with each exercise to perform them in a circuit. When you complete suggested number of iterations of each of the selected exercises, you complete one circuit and 2-3 circuits are enough to burn you in the initial sessions. Circuit training isn’t for everyone but only for those who are already fit and are aiming for extended fitness goals such as faster weight loss, improved athletic performance, or enhanced overall workout capacity.
Such training condition your muscles, promote flexibility, improve endurance and burn loads of calories, but they are not good for strength building. It is recommended to include circuit training to your normal fitness program as a bonus session, once or twice a week to achieve better and faster results.
Circuit training is well known to speed up the weight loss process and to gain lean muscles. Performing the exercises at anaerobic level pace up your heart rate and thus improve your cardio respiratory health. It is a challenging way to give yourself a complete workout within a short time interval.
Caution: Being an extreme form of workout program, circuit trainings must be considered only by people who have advance level of fitness. The risk of injury is high, so better & continuous supervision is required. Circuit trainings don’t help in strength building and for this reason are avoided by the power lifters in general. So in case you have both strength training and circuit training in your weekly fitness plan then it is better to reduce the intensity of your resistance exercises.
Cross training exercises
When you perform a particular activity repeatedly, only a few muscles (involved in that activity) get exerted. So, over a period of time while a few muscles of your body are at the risk of being overused, the rest of the muscles get completely overlooked. This impacts your overall fitness. Such situations are often encountered by professional sportsmen. So, they use a distinctive training approach, which targets various muscle groups of the body, to maintain their form and fitness during the off season of their sport.
This training is known as cross training and is the one that forms the basis of Cross Training Workouts. In simple words cross training workouts are all about amalgamating various forms of fitness regimens to target different muscle groups and thus to attain complete fitness. You may club any number of workouts as you want in a cross-training session but the best would be the one which includes aerobics, strength training, balance and endurance activities. It doesn’t matter if you exercise daily or on a few days of the week; you may plan your cross-training sessions as per your convenience.
Many a times people get confused between cross trainings and circuit trainings. It is to be understood that while circuit training is often done with specific fitness goals (like for weight loss or for building up the capacity of workout); the sole aim of cross training is to get a complete body workout. Also, circuit training involves high intensity exercises with minimal rest in between; but there are no such constraints while you are doing a cross training workout.
By targeting all muscle groups, cross training workouts help in attaining complete fitness and make your daily chores easier for you. In a training session although we perceive that only a few muscles are at work but there are also muscles that are indirectly involved. So, with cross training all your muscle groups work in close synergy and enhance your overall performance levels. Lastly trying out different types of workouts keeps you entertained.
Cautions: You should be cautious of your fitness level, health conditions and injuries (if you have any) while choosing the workouts you want to take up in cross training sessions.
Cross Fit is another high intensity workout that has garnered attention of many fitness enthusiasts over the last two decades. It involves varied functional movements performed at anaerobic level with the goal of strength building & conditioning. The Cross Fit moves are a blend of best exercises from different sports and workout forms like weightlifting, power-lifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport, calisthenics, interval workout, plyometrics, strength training and many more.
Usually performed in groups in a dedicated gym area known as Cross Fit Boxes, this workout aims at covering all 10 fitness domains, which are Cardiovascular and Respiratory fitness, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance and Accuracy. In this pursuit of optimal fitness, they follow “workout of the day” (WOD) routine. Each WOD includes a number of strength and conditioning exercises to be performed in interval training format, where the intense activity periods are separated by short resting period throughout the session. At the end of each session one’s performance is scored and ranked, which gives a deep insight about the physical competence and progress of the participants as well.
This workout style pushes you to visit the gym everyday as missing out any WOD can hamper the results. One interesting feature of Cross Fit workouts is that it applies the same routine for everyone. Whether it’s an elderly person or a young fitness nerd, the routine remains the same and only intensity, weight loads, and number of repetitions varies.
Cross Fit workout keeps you in good shape and high energy. By making you practice the functional movements, it makes everyday tasks easier for you. By targeting different joints, muscles and ligaments everyday with different WODs, Cross Fit promotes optimal fitness. Another unique feature of this workout is that it enables you to measure your fitness competence and progress with figures. Being group fitness training, Cross Fit also lets you connect with like-minded people and keeps you motivated to hit the gym.
Cautions: It has been observed that Cross Fit workouts fetch you desirable results more quickly if you club them with Paleo Diet. Higher risk of rhabdomyolysis and musculoskeletal injuries are often associated with Cross Fit workouts, so one must not miss out on warm ups and cool down sessions.
Based on military trainings, Boot Camp Workouts are done in groups where a bunch of people train rigorously to achieve the same fitness goals. These goals can vary among strength, endurance, weight loss, balance, conditions, agility and complete fitness. Every boot camp training session starts with a warm-up period, followed by a variety of rigorous and explosive movements and ends with stretching. Generally, boot camp exercises are aimed to challenge your strength, stamina and agility through a blend of rapid and energetic movements like squats, lunges, lifting weights, pulling TRX straps, plyometric exercises, etc. Such movements when performed in interval training format become all the more challenging.
Each exercise is performed for 30-60 seconds with burst of energy in circuit style followed by an equally intense bout of another exercise, separated by a period of brief resting. Usually boot camp exercises use only body weight to apply the resistance but you may also add weights in the form of kettlebell, tyres, TRX straps, etc to increase the intensity. Boot camp workouts are not for everyone but only for those who already have a strong foundation of resistance training and cardio workouts. It is group training program where each member is tested for fitness on the first day and thereafter the members are divided in small teams depending upon their competence to perform various exercises.
On the last day of the camp, fitness of the participants is tested again. Conventionally boot camps were organised in an outdoor area for 4-6 weeks but now days many gyms are organising them indoors too and also clubbing them with other extracurricular fitness activities. It helps in developing a good camaraderie among the participants. Some boot camps are also offering mental counselling to keep its members motivated even after completion of the program.
Boot camp workouts are comprehensive workouts that aim for complete fitness. They are a good way to break the monotony of your regular workouts and help you to challenge your limits a bit further. Performed in groups, boot camp workout keeps you engaged and motivated. With intense interval training boot camps also help to achieve your fitness goals faster.
Cautions: Boot camp workouts are not for everyone, so you better check the structure of the program before getting enrolled in it. In group workouts like boot camp the participants often get carried away while competing with each other and end up by hurting or exerting themselves. You must focus on your own performance and try to push your limits step by step.
This completes our list of Fitness Workout. Talk to your training instructor/ health care provider before taking up any fitness regimen. Follow a good lifestyle to realize optimal benefits from it. Take due care if you are an ageing adult, pregnant/nursing mother or recovering from any injury. Remember every workout is good but you must find out which one is the best as per your needs, capability and health conditions.
Aafiya is a health and wellness enthusiast. She utilizes her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to.
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