Today we’ll look at 2 popular forms of training and how we can get the most from them. Please remember to consult your GP if you are starting an exercise regime for the 1st time or if you have any illnesses or injuries.
Steady State Cardio (SSC):
Walking, jogging, and cycling outdoors, as well as indoor cycling, rowing and treadmill work fall under the category of Steady State Cardio training. This is the type of exercise that most people have done at one stage or another and it has many health benefits.
For complete beginners, 2-4 sessions per week of SSC will definitely help to burn some body fat, while also helping to improve the function of the heart and lungs and reducing the risk of diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. That’s the good news.
Unfortunately as a weight-loss tool, SSC has a very short shelf life. I’m sure you know somebody (it may even apply to you), who started walking or jogging a few times a week and were delighted with the weight loss. However, that was 3 years ago and although they’re doing the same training they haven’t lost a gram since. So, what happened?
There are a couple of issues here. The first is that no matter what type of training you do, you HAVE to change it on a regular basis or else you will adapt to it and you’ll cease to improve, and hit what’s referred to as a plateau.
The second issue is that SSC relies mostly on oxygen and body fat to fuel the workout. However, as you continue to do it, your body gets more efficient at it. In other words you can do the same amount of work by using less fat and oxygen and therefore you burn FEWER calories every time you train! Three years ago, that 60 minute walk may have burned 300 Calories and helped you to drop weight. But now, your super-efficient heart and lungs can do the same walk by using only 150-200 Calories. So not only are you not losing weight, if you haven’t adjusted your diet accordingly, you may actually put on weight! Sound familiar? I see it with new clients all the time.
To get the most from SSC, I recommend it only to clients who are new to training or else to people who are doing more intense types of training and can use SSC as a light-training or recovery day.
If you decide that it will be your main type of exercise make sure to vary the distance, speed, route and even method of your training (treadmill, bike or rower) every 4-6 weeks.
Group Training has many positives: the classes are supervised and structured, the group atmosphere and instructor provide motivation, and they are relatively inexpensive. There are also a whole range of options to choose from.
Once again, it’s always best to start with a type that caters for beginners and participants with limited strength, fitness or flexibility. It’s also helpful if it’s a type of training that you enjoy or wish to improve in and which will help you reach your personal goals. The following types are my preferred options.
Resistance Training Classes: Circuit Classes, Bootcamps, Crossfit, and Kettlebells are all great ways to introduce beginners to the benefits of weight-training that I wrote about last week. I encourage my own clients to try them all and change training modes regularly. Training the same movements on a long-term basis can lead to stagnation and possible over-use injury.
Flexibility/Mindfulness/Core: Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates and Meditation classes are all very different modes of training and for some people they are a way of life. I have grouped them together because each of them can help re-balance the body and mind from the stresses and strains caused by life in general and can also help support other forms of training.
There are enough methods of training available to cater for everybody, so there’s no reason not to try at least one of them. Next week we’ll look at some lifestyle issues to help support training and health.