Choosing a workout programme can sometimes be just as challenging as the exercise itself. With so many different names for classes and training methods, you might be hard pushed to decide which one suits you best, or even what they mean.
To cut out the jargon and to make life simple, I’ve put together a guide to the top ten training types, so you can decide for yourself which workouts suit you best!
As with all these things, always remember to work “within yourself” to avoid injury and eat well to complement your training.
1. Strength Training: Also called resistance training, this type of workout uses the resistance of your own bodyweight, resistance bands, free weights and weight machines. Strength training gives tone and definition to muscles and helps balance out your fat to muscle ratio; it improves posture and gives all-round conditioning. It can take time to build up your strength so it’s important to start lifting weights you are comfortable with. Exercises include dumbbell lifts, shoulder press, and tricep dips.
2. Aerobic Training: Anything that raises your heart rate is considered to be an aerobic exercise, so common examples would be running, swimming, dancing, and jumping. With your heart rate and breathing increased the cardiovascular system kicks in, and there are proven benefits to carrying out aerobic training for a sustained amount of time (typically more than 15 minutes), including a lowered risk of heart disease, some forms of cancer and Type 2 Diabetes. Most people can carry out some form of aerobic training, even if it’s just gentle walking.
3. Circuit Training (Boot Camp): Traditionally called circuit training, boot camps also follow the principal whereby strength and aerobic training is combined. Often there will be individual stations which require you to try different exercises, covering flexibility, dynamic strength and static strength. Jogging or running adds to the aerobic element, and often a class may last for up to an hour. A great choice for all round fitness, boot camps and circuit sessions typically include exercises like squats, shuttle runs, sit ups and burpees.
4. HIIT Training: The idea with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is that short bursts of high intensity physical exertion have the same, if not more benefits than more drawn out training plans. The strategy is to alternate short bursts of anaerobic exercise (where you workout so hard that you’re short of breath and lactic acid is produced in the muscles), with less intense recovery periods. Sessions can vary in time, from four-30 minutes and can improve athleticism. The regime can prove tricky for those who are less motivated and it’s been suggested that it’s not the best method for those who are starting out on their fitness journey, but more aimed at athletes and those with a high level of fitness.
5. Tabata Training: Tabata is a form of HiIT training, but is the time you work hard is reduced, with a total workout time of just four minutes. The idea behind it is that you work to capacity for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 and complete eight rounds of this. Due to the shorter time carrying out the exercises, this is favourable for many people over and above HiIT. You can apply Tabata training to almost any exercise, using squats, sprinting, lifting, press ups or kettlebells.
6. Plyometrics Training: Focussed on power-building, reaction time, explosiveness and coordination, plyometrics are essentially jumping, or “bouncing” exercises. Lateral jumps, high knees, forward jumping and double leg hops are some examples. This type of training should be done in conjunction with other sports.
7. Tempo Training: We all fall into our own comfort zone, and when you reach a certain level of fitness it’s easy to not push yourself. Tempo training requires you to maintain a pace that is just beyond your comfort zone so you increase your “lactate threshold” – the point at which the body tires. Try lifting slightly heavier weights, or running that little bit faster.
8. Fartlek Training: Yes, it’s an amusing name! But comedy aside, this training method is a great way to improve speed and endurance. The word fartlek literally means “speed play” in Swedish, so the idea is to have variations in your speed. You may start running slowly, then have a section of “moderate” running and then the next section will be fast, where you go all out. Then drop back to your moderate pace, and then drop again to slow. Continue this for your whole run.
9. Flexibility Training: Often overlooked, flexibility training includes all the exercises which involve stretching and lengthening the muscles. Perfect examples of this are Pilates and Yoga. Other exercises such as weight lifting, and many martial arts including kick boxing can cause the muscles to shorten and tighten, so these flexibility sessions are great to counteract that and ensure that injury is less likely.
10. Endurance Training: Taking your training to the next level is something that many people enjoy doing when they have reached certain fitness goals. As part of pushing ourselves we are often spurred on to run marathons, take part in triathlons or take our fitness to the next level. Endurance training involves building on your base fitness level, so gradually adding to your weights if lifting is your thing, or to increase your mileage if running is a passion. With endurance training you need to take into account your nutrition and also you need to think about recovery times to avoid injuries and stresses to the body.
Don’t forget to talk to me about any fitness goals you have, and check out my boot camp, PT, Zumba & Pilates sessions or PureStretch