Fitness: how to know which routine is right for you

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The fitter you are, the more you can benefit from different training methods, experts say.

Gym newbies don’t have to worry about the details, they should focus on good habits.

For experienced athletes, recovery and training techniques like periodization are key to success.

Exercising is more than just sweating and muscle aches. If you want to go from being a gym newcomer to a seasoned athlete, you need to change your training style and priorities. This is the only way to keep progressing and avoid common mistakes that block your progress, multiple experts tell Business Insider. These are the best tips from him:

Beginners improve quickly so focus on good training methods for future progress

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A helpful way to think about your fitness level is to ask how long you’ve been doing strength training or aerobics consistently, says strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle. Someone with less than a year of experience would be considered a beginner and could progress on almost any exercise without worrying about details like rep ranges or workouts, he explains.

“It’s like a ‘free’ stage where you train and set a new record every time,” Boyle said, referring to a personal record as the maximum effort deadlift. Much of the initial “early gains” are due to neurological changes as the body learns to move better. Building muscle mass takes time, but it’s faster for beginners.

To get the most out of the beginner phase, Boyle says you need to develop proper habits and plan ahead to lay a solid foundation for continued progress.

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Advanced athletes should aim for a balanced workout

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As you become more capable, progress slows and you need to be more focused and train with progressive overload to improve, says Stan Efferding, a weightlifter and trainer known as one of the strongest bodybuilders in the world.

“There is a difference between exercise and training. You can go home sweaty and tired, but you don’t exercise unless you can measure it,” he explains. Efferding breaks down training goals into the attributes of strength, speed, muscle mass, endurance, coordination, mobility, agility, and dexterity. Improve All these traits over time help lay the foundation for overall fitness, which he calls “overall fitness.”

In the middle phase, between one and five years of training, athletes need to be aware of how they are performing on each attribute and look at the big picture of fitness rather than just one aspect to make further progress, he says. “There comes a time when you are capable enough. At a certain point, you have to focus less on your strengths and work on your weaknesses more,” says Efferding. Advanced athletes also need to adopt recovery strategies because higher work capacity means they can do more but also experience more fatigue, she said.

An example of this is alternating days of high fatigue, such as heavy lifting, with active recovery that raises your heart rate, such as sledding or bicycling.

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Advanced athletes can benefit from periodization or focusing on one goal at a time

After five or more years of training, you reach the advanced stage of fitness where personal records are rare, Boyle said. To continue progressing, it is important to know your goal, which is why many advanced athletes begin to implement training cycles or periodization.

Periodization allows the athlete to focus on a single skill, Efferding said, while ideally keeping other skills. Training cycles often last eight to 10 weeks and increase in intensity over time to allow athletes, such as elite weightlifters, to maximize their efforts and avoid burnout. “You can’t train all the skills at the same time,” says Efferding. “If you tried that, you would lose your ability to recover.”

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This text was translated from English by Lisa Ramos-Doce. You can find the original here.

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