lou blogThere are countless different workouts and workout routines all designed to promote the endurance or strengthening of a specific area. Before beginning a workout regimen it is important to do a personal evaluation of what area of personal fitness you would like to improve upon.

    If your fitness goal is to build muscle mass, it may be beneficial to join a gym or fitness center. When beginning your workout routine, you may tend to gravitate towards utilizing a weight machine rather than free weights. Machines have many benefits, especially to beginners, they are safe and easily customized to your progressing fitness routine. Machines are also able to help you resist the natural instinct to displace pressure onto other areas by isolating specific muscles in an exercise. However, a drawback to these machines is that they may not offer as much resistance to highly trained athletes and are not accommodating  to very large or very small individuals. Machines also control the range of motion as well as the path of the weight, which takes out the need for the lifter to stabilize, which does not develop muscular stabilizers as free weight lifting does.

If you are looking to tone and tighten muscles, in contrast to muscle building which is high intensity and fewer repetitions, you would benefit most from a low weight and high repetition workout. This could consist of two to four sets with 12 to 15 repetitions of each with utilization of a low amount of weight. The goal of these methods is to stimulate and work the muscle to fatigue, in an effort to increase the resting tone of the muscle. A person working towards increased muscle tone would greatly benefit from the alternating use of free weights and machines. It is important to consider that an essential component to overall tone and fitness is cardiovascular health and endurance. Alternating between weight lifting and cardiovascular workouts will help you achieve optimal results and provide for a well rounded fitness plan.

    If your goal is to improve cardiovascular health, you may not need the additional expense of a gym. An easy and practical way to improve endurance is to begin a walking program which can later progress to a jogging routine. There are also the options of cycling, skiing and swimming. To achieve cardiovascular benefits, you need to raise your heart rate and maintain it at a high level for a period of time from 20 to 30 minutes. People beginning an exercise regime should strive for a heart rate of 50 to 60 percent of the maximum heart rate. This number is dependent on age; to calculate your unique goal, subtract your age from 220 and multiply (.5 to .6) and for more advanced athletes (.7 to .8).

    While consistent activity is important for progression in fitness, it is also important to remember the necessity of rest and recovery. If your body isn’t given time to recover from resistance exercises, damage can occur to the muscle tendon unit. In order to continue muscle growth it is imperative to allow for the body to repair damage and build additional muscle proteins. During a workout incorporating various concentrations allow for 30 seconds to a couple of minutes in recovery time. After a full body workout allow for 1 to 2 days of recovery before progressing in your workout routine.