Any physical activity or workout can be grouped under three major heads viz. Aerobic Exercise, Anaerobic Exercise and Flexibility Exercises.
- Low to high intensity exercise, primarily depends on aerobic metabolism, which means revolving around Oxygen. Also called Cardio or Cardiovascular Exercise.
- Can be performed for extended period of time [> 2 minutes].
- Carbohydrates are turned into energy aerobically.
Which exercise counts as Aerobic?
- Any exercise, where we inhale rhythmically and frequently. Heart beat goes up, and we do it for an extended period of times. We might also feel breathlessness because our body uses the inhaled oxygen rapidly.
- For example, running, cycling, sports, swimming, dancing, walking, skipping etc.
A whole lot of health benefits including and not limited to
- Stronger Heart
- Improves endurance
- Improves lungs efficiency
- Increase in bone density
- Improves brain and mental health
- Helps burn calories, thereby helps in fat reduction. Etc.
- Trains slow twitch muscles.
- Injury prone.
- Not effective for Building Muscle
- Not an effective fat loss tool.
- Intense physical exercise which causes lactic acid formation in body.
- Not directly dependent on oxygen consumption.
Which exercise counts as Anaerobic?
- Any exercise, where we do heavy lifting, we hold our breath and complete the exercise repetition. Post one successful rep, we again take a breath and repeat. This might also be application for full throttle sprints (HIIT).
- Resistance Training aka Weight lifting, Sprinting, high intensity interval training, any aerobic exercise performed at full capacity etc.
- Improves speed and power.
- Excellent for building and preserving muscles
- Enhances performance in short duration high intensity activities (which also includes stress management)
- Fast twitch muscles are targeted
- Efficient burning of calories
- Used in weight management, as it increases BMR
- Without proper nutrition, body might not recover well (applicable for aerobic too).
- Body fatigues faster during anaerobic exercise
- Slow twitch muscles are not targeted directly
What should I do in workouts?
Before answering this, answer a simple question! What kind of physique you want to attain?
A complete workout which works all the time is a mix of Anaerobic and Aerobic exercises. Workout depends on a lot many factors, body type being a major one.
Optimal Workout Plan for beginners:
Beginners should generally start from physical activities like walking, jogging, sports, cycling, running etc. They should use a mix of low (3 days) and moderate intensity (3 days/week). As they become comfortable, they should include resistance training in there program for couple of days per week.
Monday, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays: Cardio exercises like sports, cycling, brisk walking, jogging, running etc
Wed: Strength Training [Lifting weights]
Thurs & Sun: Rest
You must also try to add free body weight exercises which can be done anywhere.
Goal Oriented Optimal Workout Plan
If you have a goal in mind, say 16 inches arms, 6 pack abs etc you need to tailor your workout program in such a way that the goals are in alignment. For increasing muscle mass, Resistance training has to be included in the workout.
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Friday : Weight Lifting (Done in Gym)
Wed, Saturday : Cardiovascular exercises like games, sports, running, cycling etc
Sundays : Rest
Optimal Workout Plan for Fat loss
Once, you ensure that you are in calorific deficit, then the fat loss workout comes into picture. Depending on body type, you have to vary the amount of cardio. Ectomorph would require minimal cardio, whereas an endomorph might require cardio every day.
The following plan has always worked for me:
Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat : Weight Training
Cardio exercises on any 3-4 days.
Sundays : Rest.
Even astronauts do resistance training for preserving muscle mass. [ wiki ]
Ensure you include both cardio and strength training in your workout routine for optimal benefits in muscle building and fat loss. 3-4 days of cardio/week for 30 minutes is good enough. 3-5 days/week of Resistance training helps build muscles. Have a complete rest day for yourself.