OK, so you want to get off your butt and get into shape, but where do you start?
A lot of people jump into an exercise regimen they create themselves without really knowing how to design a productive, well-rounded routine.
That can often lead to developing only certain parts of your body, and not concentrating on all areas of fitness.
So when we recently talked with Shawn Arent, an exercise scientist at Rutgers University, we asked him what makes a solid, basic routine for someone just starting out.
He said to focus on mixing it up, and to ease up on the single-minded dedication to cardiovascular exercise.
Here’s what he told us:
“What a lot of people don’t know is to take a balanced approach including cardiovascular conditioning along with strengthening. People tend to pick one or the other or they heavily rely on just the cardio side at the expenses of others. I think when it comes to exercise programming it’s important to pay attention to your weaknesses. A lot of guys go to the beach and all they train is their beach muscles — it’s bench press and curls. Well, you’ve got a back and some legs you’ve got to deal with too.
“The best exercises when it comes to lifting weights are the ones that require multiple joint movements: Squats, dead lifts, bench presses, shoulder presses, kettle bell swings … there’s all kinds of fun stuff you can do.
“… It depends on what [your] goals are [in starting a program], but I think if you had to try to boil it down it would be: 1. Lift weights. Split it up so that you do upper body one day, lower body the next, and rotate through that in a week. You know — upper, lower, upper, lower — lift four days a week.
“The second part then is: do cardiovascular exercise at an intensity that makes it difficult to carry on a conversation. We use the ‘talk test.’ If somebody doesn’t have a heart rate monitor, and they want to know ‘how hard should I work out?’ [The answer is] hard enough that you could still probably talk to somebody but it would be a broken conversation, in other words you couldn’t just talk leisurely while you’re doing it. You’d have to take a breath every once in a while to catch your breath. So it should be a difficult conversation, but maybe not so hard that you can’t talk at all.
“Unless you want to start doing intervals. I would probably save that for … when somebody really gets going with a program. But if [you] just want to get started and [you’re] looking for the two simplest solutions: Lift weights, rotate between upper body and lower body, and do some cardio that makes you sweat, that makes it a little challenging to talk, but something that you can do for 20-30 minutes at a time.”
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