The Holy Grail of Exercises
I often get questioned about the best exercise program. This comes particularly from teenagers who are enthusiastic and full of energy. In today’s day and age, it is not difficult to find shed loads of material online pertaining to this topic. However, the arduous task then would be to choose the correct one!
I will try to explain the options, safety and reasoning in simple words in a nutshell.
Before you embark upon one of these routes, you need to sit and think about your goals. If you would like to take up an enduring sports activity such as marathon, then the route would be totally different from if you are trying to bulk up your muscles.
Type of Exercises
The exercise activities can be broadly classified into 3 groups.
1) Aerobics (Cardio)
2) Weight training
3) Stretching exercises
Aerobics is mainly to increase your endurance. Running, Jogging, Cycling Swimming, Treadmill, Cross-trainer are all types of aerobic exercises. One can argue that it is most helpful form of exercise as it helps to improve overall fitness and has got several health benefits including reduction of percentage of body fat. This increases the type-1 muscle fibers, which are important for endurance. However, this does not bulk up the muscles.
Weight training can help to bulk up the muscles. This can be achieved either by using body weight itself or by using weights in various forms ranging from dumbbells and barbells to specialized equipment in the Gym. One can gain weight through this mode of exercise. Although, this is attractive option for lot of youngsters, most injuries and problems we see in our clinics are the result of poor technique.
Stretching exercises such as Yoga and Pilates help in keeping joints supple and mobile. It helps in aligning the muscles in the correct direction for action. However, doing stretching exercises immediately prior to weight training may lead to some loss of power.
1) Adequate warm up and cooling down
2) Adequate mix of all 3 modes of exercises
3) Start slow and build up your training gradually
4) 3-4 days a week training
5) Adequate Hydration
Last but not the least, do not make exercise a self inflicted punishment, but an enjoyable activity!