The Key to Top-Grade Fitness

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Bethany Herold

Professor Sondra Doolin

ENG 121 C17

27 April 2014

The Key to Top-Grade Fitness

According to the Fitness Gov.com statistic page, “More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.” Americans understand that exercise is a necessity, but most are at a loss in regards to the best way to fit the most effective form of exercise into one’s daily life. Although all physical activity is beneficial, there is a certain syllabus to follow that yields maximum results. In his article Fitness For Survival, Munger argues that an assortment of activities done frequently is the most beneficial and efficient way to exercise. Through proper use of time, frequency and form, an active lifestyle can be achieved. Contrary to popular belief, not all exercise is created equal. Some misleading ideas include long and moderate work out sessions, sessions limited to four days a week, and constantly repeating the same exercise routine while expecting continued results. Top-grade fitness results are seen by performing a variety of exercises for a short period of time most days of the week.

It is easy to fall prey to an exercise rut once an ideal routine has been found. Most find it comforting to stick with a routine that is known to produce (at least at one point) specific results. That being said, it is wise to alternate a wide variety of exercises in order to truly optimize your health. It is natural to become less and less enamored with a regular routine and eventually lose interest all together. When a person is bored, time seems to pass in slow motion, which is not helpful during a workout session. By constantly changing length of exercises and varying activities, each exercise is an adventure and something to look forward to. For example, go swimming one day, hit the gym another,

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and spend one day at home performing calisthenic workouts. Variety is important in a fitness program because it allows your body to be challenged on a consistent basis to overcome a plateau. A plateau happens when the body has become accustomed or used to doing the same repeated exercises over and over again. To defeat a plateau, perform a mixture of new exercises which will place fresh demands on the body. The intensity of these additions will help to promote new muscle growth.

Mixing up your routine does more than just beat boredom. When you do the same type of exercise exclusively, your body builds specific strengths. By switching your activity mode, you broaden your physical abilities. Without variety, your body will quickly adapt and the benefits will begin to plateau. According to Hannah Owen, a certified personal trainer and CrossFit owner in Colorado Springs “As soon as an exercise becomes easy to complete, you need to increase the intensity and/or try another exercise to keep challenging your body”.

Outside of personal profits, such as elapsed time for a busy schedule, shorter and intense workouts provide exercise benefits not achieved by a longer and more lax regimen. It is commonly thought that long workout sessions equal more calories burned or muscle gained. However, more effective exercises can be completed in a third of that time. In her article on a study of various training programs tested on college students, Barfield states the following: “CrossFit group participants showed improvement in all muscular fitness variables and actually showed the greatest gains in lower body muscular endurance”(13). The study concluded that, in general, programs that were short in length and performed with high intensity most days of the week showed the best results.

In an addition of The New York Daily News, interviewed Lashaun Dale, Senior National Group Fitness Creative Manager at Equinox said “Short workouts are effective, but they need to be dense and packed with high-intensity exercises”. CrossFit is excellent example of weaving this theme into workout routine, as a session is made up regiments of constantly varied and functional movements

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performed at high intensity. Although stretching and warming up is added to the time and program, the actual intense workout only lasts from ten to thirty minutes. The main idea of a fast workout is high intensity training, or HIT. Essentially, HIT is progressive resistance or cardiovascular exercise defined by a high level of effort with brief intervals that are relatively easier. This is opposed to typical training methods involving low to moderate levels of effort and longer, more frequent workouts. According to fitness expert Phil Campbell, author of Ready, Set, Go, getting fitness benefits requires working all three types of muscle fibers and their associated energy systems. This cannot be done with traditional long and regulated cardio, as it only activates your red, slow twitch muscles. If your fitness routine doesn’t work your white muscle, you aren’t really working your heart in the most beneficial way.

Although in the past it was common to suggest a minimum weekly number of minutes to exercise, studies are showing that those minutes should be spread out equally over the course of a week, as opposed to cramming it all in a few days. You do not receive the same results and benefits from completing in a few days what should be spaced out throughout a week. As a general goal, aim for at least thirty minutes of physical activity every day. (Bushman 7). If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more and adjust intervals accordingly. You can even split your thirty minute exercise for one day into three separate sets. For example, go for a ten minute run in the morning, do ten minutes of core exercises in the afternoon, and practice some yoga for ten minutes in the evening. This does not mean that the same muscles or activities should be performed daily, such as targeting a specific part of the body, as this can lead to injuries. That being said, it is safe to alternate different types of exercise daily, such as going for a run one day, and perform weight lifting the next. In conclusion, you can work out every day when your definition of workout means some form of physical activity.

There are endless ways to exercise, and while completing some form of it is better than nothing,

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being aware of and integrating the most effective ways to reach your fitness goals will help achieve maximum results. Adding variety will keep a body from plateauing, performing shorter and more intense exercises will achieve the best results in the shortest amount of time, and working out every day will aid in sticking to regimen and maximizing physical fitness. Opposed opinions claim that daily exercise is bad for bodies, as it doesn’t give muscles a day to rest. However, starting back a hundred years ago, our ancestors worked out quite rigorously every day just to survive. And survive and flourish they did. The human body was designed to work out every day. Whether it was hunting, building, commuting or cleaning, our forefathers did not have the option to be lazy. Even though we now have fancy gym equipment, and classify exercise as a workout, our bodies are still made to handle daily activity. Do your body a favor, and strive to incorporate a variety of high-intensity exercises into a daily schedule.

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Works Cited

Barfield, J. P., et al. “Format Of Basic Instruction Program Resistance Training Classes: Effect On Fitness Change In College Students.”Physical Educator 69.4 (2012)”: 325-341. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer sid=df3b1868-2b30-4896-b8d1-f84e67eb1694%40sessionmgr113&vid=6&hid=128>

Bompa, Tudor. Theory and Methodology of Training: The Key to Athletic Importance. United States of America: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1994. Print.

Bushman, Barbara. Complete Guide to Fitness&Health: Physical Activity and Nutrition Guidelines for Every Age. United States of American: American College of Sports Medicine, 2011. Print.

Campbell, Phil. Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness. United States of America: Pristine Publishers Inc, 2007. Print

Facts and Statistics” Fitness Gov. Retrieved from the web 18 Apr 2014. <http://www.fitness.gov/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/&gt;

Hopper, Robert. Stick With Exercise For A Lifetime. United States of America: CreateSpace, 2012. Print.

Munger, Dave. “Fitness For Survival.” Seed Magazine. 6 Oct. 2010. Web. 2 Apr. 2014. <http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/fitness_for_survival/>

Owen, Hannah. Personal Isnterview. 18 Apr. 2014.

Unknown, Unknown. “Effects Of Prior Short Multiple-Sprint Exercises With Different Intersprint Recoveries On The Slow Component Of Oxygen Uptake During High-Intensity Exercise.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism 37.6 (2012): 1080-1090. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer sid=df3b1868-2b30-4896-b8d1-f84e67eb1694%40sessionmgr113&vid=11&hid=128>  

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