If you’re trying to figure out which fitness program you should pursue to achieve optimal health or another type of fitness goal, you’ll be happy to hear there are many options for you to consider.
Five of them are garnering a lot of attention among fitness professionals, their clients and regular gym attendants, making newcomers to the fitness game eager to see what’s at the top of their list. You can choose based on your personal preferences and your specific goals.
Bodyweight Exercises for Fitness
Whether you’re brand new to fitness or you’re a seasoned athlete or fitness buff, bodyweight exercises can be a great way for you to work out if you don’t have access to free weights or machines – or, if you don’t quite feel ready for them yet.
There are all kinds of bodyweight exercises, ranging from beginner to advanced, and you can really get a full body workout just from doing bodyweight work alone. To start on the easier side, for a good upper body workout you can do pushups.
They’re one of the most commonly known bodyweight exercises, but they do work. Depending on how you angle your arms, you can have a more chest intensive workout or a more triceps-intensive one.
You can also adjust your body’s angle relative to the floor to make it more or less difficult, depending on what you need. These can be done anywhere, so they make for a perfect upper body exercise using bodyweight.
When it comes to legs, squats are king. Many times you’ll see people doing them with crazy amounts of weight, but bodyweight squats have their purpose, too. By focusing on your form and not the amount of weight you’re using, bodyweight squats tend to help you gain the muscle memory you need while also still developing your legs quite a bit.
If you need more difficult variations, you can do things like one-legged squats if you’re really strong enough. Pullups are a fantastic exercise for your back, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy.
Pullups can actually be fairly difficult for some people – especially those who are overweight and not particularly strong. There are all different kinds of grip positions that you can use from things like chin ups to wide grip pull ups, but focus on the standard ones at first before you try to move around too much.
The only downside to pullups is that you do need a stable bar to hold onto that’s high up enough for you to pull yourself up with it. For the very advanced fitness enthusiasts, there’s a version of the pullup known as a “muscle-up.”
This involves doing a pull up, getting your whole upper body over the bar, and then pushing yourself up even further by doing a dip. This is a very difficult bodyweight exercise that not a lot of people can do, but if you can, it can do wonders for your strength. No matter what level you’re at, bodyweight exercises can always be viable if you adapt them for you.
High Intensity Interval Training for Fitness
High intensity interval training is a fantastic way to both put on muscle and shred down fat. Essentially, you alternate between resting and going as hard as you can for similar amounts of time until you’re too tired to do it anymore.
HIIT training, as it’s more commonly known, can be done with a variety of exercises, all with different effects and results, so you can experiment a bit to figure out what works best for you.
One of the most common HIIT exercises is sprinting. Many people struggle with running to get in shape, but by doing short bursts of sprinting combined with short periods of rest to catch your breath, you can improve your cardiovascular system, tone your legs, and shed pounds, too.
HIIT allows you to put in a great deal of effort intermittently, instead of putting in a mediocre effort for awhile. This gives you better results with exercises that you might struggle with.
Many people have turned to HIIT in order to get those abs that they’ve always wanted. By doing extremely intense ab workouts and then resting, you’re able to keep going a bit longer than you would with some predetermined sets.
The higher amount of reps means that you’re going to see results faster. Much of what makes ab workouts effective for that muscle growth is continuously getting in reps, so with HIIT, you’re going to definitely firm up your core.
You can structure your HIIT workouts in different ways. The length of the workout and of each interval can be adjusted to better fit you, though you should be uncomfortable to an extent while doing it.
While some involve exercising and resting, some will have you switch between an easy and a difficult exercise and wait until the end to really rest up. This makes for a very intense workout that’s sure to leave you sore the next day.
Not every workout needs to be a HIIT workout. You can do them once a week, once a month, or whatever works for you. Whatever you do, you want to use them to help break up the monotony of standard workouts to confuse your muscles.
If you go to the gym and do the same workouts at the same time every week, your muscles will adapt and already be prepared for it, which makes the workout less effective. By throwing HIIT into the mix, your muscles are forced to shake things up.
Crossfit for Fitness
CrossFit has exploded in popularity since the early 2010s. It strays from many of the typical strategies for fitness that you’d typically see in other workout varieties such as bodybuilding or strongman, and even hosts its own competitions to see who’s the best at the standard CrossFit exercises.
While it’s typically taken in the form of classes at registered CrossFit gyms, you can do a lot of their exercises at any typical gym. The main point of CrossFit is to combine various different kinds of workouts into one routine, while focusing on what’s referred to as “functional fitness.”
This means that instead of just sticking to weightlifting or running, you do a bit of both and then some more. It’s less about seeing how much weight you can lift, and more about building yourself up across the board to be better at handling standard daily things.
Functional fitness means that you’re lifting with a purpose. Instead of just trying to look like the strongest person or lift the most on a certain exercise, you’re trying to do things that will help you in real life.
You’ll be better at moving around, better with balance, and better at using your whole body to do certain things rather than just isolating it to your biceps or legs. For example, if you’re lifting a box in real life, you’re not just going to use your legs or back or arms.
You’re going to use a bit of everything to get the box up easily. CrossFit tends to attract many beginners, because their gyms may be less intimidating than ones that solely focus on lifting weights.
Since it’s a class, it’s easier for beginners to learn what to do and what not to do. Often, when beginners go to gyms full of people that’ve been working out for years, they fear that they’re going to make a fool out of themselves, and they get inside their own heads for the whole workout.
One of the biggest selling points for CrossFit is that it’s just simply more enjoyable. They try to create a fun, engaging environment with a friendly community that allows you to exercise in a way that you’ll look forward to. It’s less about dragging yourself to the same old gym and waiting for benches to open up and more about seeing what you can manage to do that day in terms of reaching new goals.
Yoga and Pilates for Fitness
For many people, when they think of yoga, they think of it as something people do as meditation, a sort of spiritual experience. Others might think of it as just a way to be flexible.
However, once you really get involved with it, you realize just how great it is for your core and for your fitness as a whole. In fact, yoga is a great way to get in shape while providing you with a variety of other advantages.
The main thing that yoga helps you work out is your core. You might not feel it in some of the beginner positions, but a little later down the line, these exercises can become quite intense.
You’ll have to hold a position for minutes at a time that requires a strong core to maintain, almost in the same way that doing planks helps you work out your abs. Naturally, these positions help strengthen your core, but they also help tone it up to make your abs more visible.
It’s not just your abs that are benefitting from yoga, though. Given the insane number of poses that you can do in yoga, you’ll find that some poses will help your arms, while others will help your legs, and so on.
While yoga isn’t the best at building muscle per se, it can help you build strength, and more importantly it can help you tone up your body to reveal the existing muscles that you might have developed outside of yoga.
There are a wide variety of other benefits that you can get from yoga that can help you continue to do other forms of fitness, as well. For example, flexibility is extremely important.
It helps ensure that you’re able to do exercises such as squats with proper form, helping reduce injury and increasing the effectiveness of such exercises. Since yoga increases your flexibility, you’re able to do weightlifting like this with greater ease.
Another aspect of yoga that helps your fitness is preventing injuries in general. Yoga movements are meant to help your body – specifically your muscles as well as tendons and joints, stay active and prevents them from seizing up.
This helps reduce things like muscle cramps, joint pains, and worse, things like muscle tears or separations. These things can be very painful and are possibly the more dangerous aspects of weightlifting. By doing yoga, you can help prevent these and save yourself the future trouble.
Strength Training for Fitness
Arguably the most popular form of exercise in fitness is strength training. This involves any and all kinds of weightlifting with the goal of becoming stronger and more muscular. Strength training is a fantastic way to get in shape, and it’s the main focus of many people’s fitness routines.
For a beginner, it can be a bit intimidating, but you don’t need to worry, because it’s just as simple as any other form of fitness. The best way to start strength training is to develop a schedule.
Many people do certain body parts on certain days so that they can break it up throughout the week, instead of doing one really long workout that’ll tire you out. How you break it up is entirely up to you, but most often you’ll see people pairing similar body parts, such as upper body or legs.
One of the most important things to note about strength training is that you should only do the weight that you feel good with. Form is the most important part of weightlifting, so don’t try to do some kind of weight that you’re not ready for yet.
It’s understandable that you might want to make those kinds of advancements sooner rather than later, but take it slow and just trust that you’ll get there. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk for some pretty serious injuries, or at least some stares from the more experienced members of the gym for doing something silly.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help at the gym. So many people tend to get all caught up in their ego that they just try to figure it out for themselves, but sometimes a little bit of help can go a long way.
You’re not hiring a personal trainer to walk you through things, unless you want to, but you’re just asking for a 30 second piece of advice. It can even help get you somewhat integrated into the gym culture, which might make you feel more comfortable being there.
Be sure to give yourself days to rest between workouts. If you haven’t gotten into weightlifting before, you’ll soon discover that the day after a good workout you’ll be feeling very sore. Don’t worry, though.
It’s a good sign, meaning that your body’s muscles have been worked hard enough that they need to repair. When they do that, they come back larger and stronger, which is what leads to increased strength and increased muscle mass.
Regardless of which fitness program you choose to pursue, including adopting a variety of them, you’re bound to see positive results in both a visual and healthy way if you are consistent with it and use proper form.