2013-10-24 / Opinions

First priority to designing your own exercise program is setting your goals


Sheri Lynn Essian Sheri Lynn Essian I f I had only one visit with you to offer direction in designing an exercise routine, this is the general outline I’d share…

First, I’d ask, “What are your goals?” For example, perhaps you’d like to lose weight, build endurance to run a 5K, or get stronger to carry work equipment or a grandchild.

Here is the overall outline of your program to help you reach those goals:

Warm up with dynamic stretching - 5 – 10 minutes (every time you work out)

Cardiorespiratory exercise – 30 – 60 minutes (3-5 days a week) Cool Down – 5 – 10 minutes (every time you work out)

Static stretching - 5 – 20 minutes (after every session of exercise)

Resistance Training – 30 minutes (2-3 days a week)

Dynamic stretching means that your movement is slow and controlled, gently going through the full range of motion. This should replicate your next activity. If on the treadmill, make arms and legs move like exaggerated marching; if tennis, do huge arms circles, gentle lunges, and body twists. Additionally, run in place with little steps to get your heartbeat up as you tell your body, “I’m calling to action every single cell of every single muscle into optimal operation.” Now that you have called to attention all your muscles, time to put them to work.

Begin your cardio activity at a level less than your maximum. Gradually work up to a “perceived rate of exertion” level of 5 – 8; this is explained further in the next paragraph. Your activity should be continual and rhythmic; done without ceasing for an extended time. If your goal is weight loss, build up to 40-60 minutes. If you want to increase your endurance, work up to 30 minutes and increase gradually in time, or intensity. If increasing in strength is your goal, hover around 30 minutes but vary other elements of your cardio activity, such as resistance, since you’ll be putting out more in the resistance training segment of your workout.

“Perceived rate of exertion”, also called PRE, refers to your personal level of output according to how you feel. Perhaps you’ve heard the term target heart rate; that refers to your output according to heart rate. For this article, we will refer to your PRE, with zero being resting and no effort and ten being “I can’t take another step!” Your 5 – 8 level will be somewhere in the middle and a bit above, and your personal level 5 will change as you get in shape. If at any time, you feel dizzy, light-headed or have chest pains, stop and seek medical treatment immediately.

A brief cool down period of five minutes, walking at a strolling pace, will help your body adjust to “normal.” Do not sit down and just rest after your cardio.

After your muscles have worked hard at some type of cardio activity, now help them recover from the work by doing hold and stretch exercises, referred to as static stretching. This can be specific to the activity done; emphasizing the muscles used the greatest. Think of this as an investment insofar as reducing discomfort later.

Resistance training can take many forms. Weight lifting using machines or free weights, calisthenics (body weight exercises), stability ball, BOSU, bands, tubes, are all various kinds of resistance training. I will speak specific to weight lifting using machines. In the beginning, there will be some trial and error in discovering the weight that suits your goals with one word of caution: do not lift your maximum, since you may injure yourself.

You will be looking for a weight level that you can easily lift 8-12 times without stopping, three times in a row. This is called “3 sets of 10”, for example. Your movements should be slow and controlled, counting 3 seconds one way, hold for one, then three seconds going back. You should exhale when you are doing the hardest part, and breathe normally. (Do not hold your breath.) You will start off with seven exercises, two for your upper body, two for your lower body, and three for the core area. Pick two machines that work opposite sides of the body for the upper and lower body; for the core pick one for the abdomen, one for the back, and one that works the oblique muscles, which provide twisting motion.

From this basic level of strength, you will fine-tune your resistance training program gradually over a period of time with these additional guidelines. To build strength, you will reduce the number of repetitions and increase the weight. To build endurance, you will increase your number of repetitions while keeping the weights at a modest level. In either case, you will rest 1 or 2 minutes between sets…this too can be adjusted as you progress in your fitness level.

These general guidelines will provide the outline you need to get your energies targeted toward your goal. Once you have an established routine, you will be amazed at how confident you’ll become in adding appropriate exercises to meet your goals, and how well you’ll understand the machines and your body. As a result you’ll do your daily chores with vigor, and move about easily climbing stairs, carrying, and lifting. It’s a paradox, but the more you work out, the more energy you have…your metabolism is boosted!

To close, I must address injury prevention by saying that all your increases, be it time, weight, intensity, frequency, should be gradual. Also, work all your larger muscles first, then smaller muscles. Do new exercises first, when you are fresh and focused. Think safety and injury prevention so nothing holds you back from working toward your goals.

Now the last thing I ‘d like to talk about is the most important….making the decision to begin. I encourage you to tell your body that it is no longer in charge! And that it will obey what your heart and mind knows is good for it!

Essian graduated as a physical educator from MSU in 1983, and then recently became a NETA (National Exercise Trainer Association) personal trainer. Your doctor’s specific advice to you trumps any and all of the following content.

Warm up with dynamic stretching

(Gentle full rotation movements duplicating upcoming activity) 5-10 minutes before cardio Every time you perform cardio; prepares body for session of work.

Cardio activity

(Continuous, rhythmic, and constant activity) 30–60 minutes, 30 minutes minimum 5 days a week for health; more for fitness levels.

Cool down

(Walking) 5 – 10 minutes, Allow heart rate to return to normal.

Static stretching

(Stretch and hold type) 5-20 minutes Help your muscles recover from the recent work; reduce pain that might come later.

Resistance training

(Weight machines or free weights, body weight exercises, stability ball, BOSU, bands, tubes.)

30 minutes or more, Two or three days a week.

Start with 7 exercises; 2 for upper and lower body, 3 for core.

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