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Exercising for Fitness or Weight Loss?

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Before you begin a fitness routine, make exercise worth the time by knowing your intensity level. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer, Colette Cole, MS, discusses two ways to test for your intensity level and the best ways to work out for your specific goals.

Know your intensity level
Heart rate is the one of the best indicators of exercise intensity. To identify your heart rate, subtract your age from 220 to find your maximum heart rate. Fifty to 60 percent of that number is considered low to moderate intensity while 80-85 percent is considered high intensity.

Another simple, great rule of thumb to use is the talk test. While you are exercising, you should be able to talk in short sentences. If you can’t, you are working too hard and should take it down a notch. If you can sing, you aren’t working hard enough, so pick up the pace!

Select the appropriate workout for you
After your intensity levels are identified, it’s time to start your workout. Whether your goal is to get more fit or to lose weight, you should be doing both cardiovascular and strength training exercises, but how you meet those goals will be different. Below are nine helpful tips to get you on track towards your fitness goals, whatever they may be:

If you’re working out to achieve a higher level of fitness…

  1. Strive to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular activity most days of the week.

  2. Alternate machines if you prefer to workout indoors, or try training for an upcoming race in your community.

  3. Strength train twice a week on non-consecutive days.

  4. Start your strength training with one to three sets of exercises (with eight to 10 repetitions per set) for each major muscle group. Increase the weight as you get stronger.

If you're working out to lose weight...

  1. As a beginner, work your way up to 30-60 minutes of cardio sessions three days a week. Once comfortable, increase the intensity or add a day.

  2. Try interval training. This means to exercise in short bursts of high intensity cardio (30 seconds) followed by periods of lower intensity recovery (two minutes).

  3. In order to burn extra calories while you strength train, try integrating multi-joint exercises into your routine. For example, squats to a bicep curl. You will be working more muscle at the same time while keeping your heart rate up.

  4. Do your strength training standing up. This will keep your heart rate up.

  5. If you can easily do more than three repetitions, you need to increase the weight, but don’t be afraid to start light and work your way up in order to decrease the risk of injury.

Everyone should have an exercise program designed to meet their own personal goals. Whether it is to maintain or lose body fat, each person is unique and their fitness program should be as well. Make sure you are exercising and eating according to your personal goals. If you're starting a program, meet with a professional fitness trainer to have a complete, individualistic plan designed for you.

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center, click here or call 972.233.4832.