There are an infinite number of ways to exercise in today’s day and age, and the overwhelming number of options can end up holding people back from getting up and taking action.
That’s why we’ve simplified things and assembled a short list of the five main types of exercise that have been proven by trainers and scientists to be the most effective.
Determine your fitness goals, compare these exercise strategies, then pick one, and stick with it to get the results you’ve always wanted.
1. Steady-State Cardio
It’s not the most exciting exercise method in the world, but it’s certainly one of the most common. Steady-state cardio is any form of aerobic activity that elevates your heart rate and maintains it at that point for a certain length of time.
Walk into any gym around the world and you’ll see people pumping away on treadmills, stairmasters, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes. They are all performing steady-state cardio, and the average session is anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes.
Unsurprisingly very few of these gym-goers seem happy to be stuck on a machine, which explains why they need to distract themselves with TVs and iPads. A fun and engaging dance class workout or martial-arts routine can definitely help the time fly faster.
Still, steady-state cardio is better than nothing, and extended sessions certainly have their time and place if you have no other options.
2. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Regarded as one of the best fat-burning techniques out there, HIIT pushes the body to the limit with short bursts of intense physical activity, whether it’s sprints, burpees, or jumping rope.
HIIT isn’t easy, and it’s not meant to be, either. You will feel the burn fast when performing any type of high-intensity training, and likely be sore the next day. However, it will accelerate your results unlike any other form of exercise, especially for weight loss.
The best part of HIIT is that it can be done almost anywhere, at any time of day. You don’t need special equipment or coaching to sprint in an open field or do burpees in your backyard. The hardest part is staying motivated and accountable, which is why a 30-day challenge can help.
Experiment with a wide range of HIIT workouts to see which one gives you the best results. Ideally, you’ll incorporate a variety of styles into your routine to achieve a complete full-body physique boost.
3. Strength Training
Lifting weights and doing bodyweight strength training isn’t just for beefy bodybuilders and pro wrestlers. Anyone at any age can benefit from resistance-based strength exercises since they help our bodies maintain a healthy amount of lean muscle.
It can be a bit intimidating to walk into the weight room for the first time, but once you get into the swing of things, strength training isn’t rocket science. Start by performing simple movements with minimal repetitions, then slowly work your way up the rack.
The key term here is “progressive overload” which means you use slightly heavier weights every time you hit the gym. The body responds to being challenged over time, and it’s a great feeling to watch those weights increase as your physique transforms.
If you prefer a home workout setup, you can drop down for a set of pushups, squats, or lunges at any time and get a quick strength training session with no equipment at all.
When you want to upgrade, invest in some resistance bands to enjoy a huge variety of resistance movements in the comfort of your own living room. Focus on exercising with correct form and remember to eat plenty of protein to maintain healthy muscles.
4. Dynamic Stretching and Yoga
Although stretching isn’t so effective for shedding excess weight and boosting cardiovascular capacity, that’s not the point! It’s an underrated activity that needs to be more widely practiced.
If you are turning over a new leaf for better health and fitness, you should dedicate at least a few minutes to stretching every day, even during rest periods.
Stretching does not only help us feel more loose, limber, and relaxed, it also keeps our tendons, joints, muscles, and organs all operating at peak capacity. Every time we work out, our muscles tense up and experience microscopic trauma, which needs to be cared for by stretching.
When performed properly, a deep stretch can actually be quite a challenge, forcing you to endure extended discomfort to achieve full flexibility. Some folks like to attend yoga classes to get that fun group workout effect and enjoy a zen state of mind.
No matter your specific fitness goal, longevity is key to success. By taking stretching seriously, you can reduce the chance of injury and stay focused for the long haul.
5. Cross-Training and Fusion Exercise
If all these exercise options seem uninspiring and mundane, you aren’t alone in that opinion. The truth is that most workout routines are boring and repetitive, which is why so many people are turning to dynamic cross training and group exercise classes to achieve their goals.
Just look at the rise of organized fitness classes and cross-training over the past few years. These formats provide a clear structure, offer a sense of community, and deliver real results to anyone willing to stick to the program.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved, and you can be one of those success stories too, if you find the right routine.
Some people prefer high-energy hip-hop dancing, while others like the martial-arts shadow boxing approach. What matters at the end of the day is finding the workout that makes you happy and keeps you coming back for more.
Out of these five types of exercise, there’s sure to be a method that works for you! Experiment with them all and create a routine that suits your preferences and lifestyle.