Types Of Training

Exercise Rating Table

The following table shows my own personal ratings for each exercise type.  Below is also a brief description of the benefits and negatives for each exercise as well as my own personal recommendation on the type of training you should do.

Running:  The lowest scored exercise in the whole table.  Running is great for cardio fitness and endurance, as well as clearing the mind when out for a run through nature.  Running also has a decent calorie burn, but not necessarily all from fat stores, and it stops once the run has ended.  And that’s where the benefits stop for running.  

Running longer distances can cause the body to burn off muscle tissue for energy.  It lowers strength (particularly upper body), lowers metabolism making fat loss more difficult, can cause havoc with hormones.  Running done incorrectly, which most people seem to do, causes a lot of damage to the knees, muscles at the shins and lower back.  Running is a very unbalanced exercises, working the legs hard and hardly using the upper body at all.  It also flattens the physique, causing loss of muscle tone.  Although its one of the most popular sports, its also the number 1 sport for injuries.  What would one expect when their knees absorb the impact of 50,000 steps in a few hours.   

Cycling:  Quite similar to running, with regards to the benefits and negatives.  However, cycling does have slightly less impact on the body due to there being no impact with the ground.  One of the great things about cycling is that there seems to be a really good community within the local clubs, which certainly helps encourage people to exercise more.  

However, I feel cycling still have more negatives than positives in regards to health.  Cyclists often go on lengthy journeys spanning 2 to 4 hours.  This amount of cardio on the body, can cause too much calorie burn which certainly causes the body to turn catabolic and burn muscle for energy, conserving fat stores.  Decreases muscle mass and strength, again particularly all upper body, while actually strengthening the main working muscles in the legs, causing an unbalanced body  It’s certainly not good for both testosterone and sperm production in men.  And I think it’s quite dangerous, as many drivers don’t have much patience for cyclists, and fly past them quite close. 

Swimming:  Is a better full body exercise, and changing up the style of the stroke can help incorporate even more muscles into the workout.  Swimming has zero impact on the body, making it a great option for anyone returning to exercise from injury.  Swimming is good for cardio fitness and muscle endurance, but wouldn’t build much strength.

There are no real negatives for swimming, apart from women having to wash their hair a lot if they we to swim regularly, and the calorie burn stops when you’ve got out of the pool.   

Circuit Classes:  Like Bootcamps, body pump etc. etc.  These classes have generally been designed for fitness and fat loss and there is a trainer there to keep you right.  They are great fun, usually affordable (not all are mind you, some trainers try and “rip the ass out of it” so to speak), and usually include a good variety of exercises that work the full body.  They are often a good combination of cardio and resistance training (using weights), that helps improve fitness, burn calories and fat while maintaining muscle and strength.  Classes are a great way to take your first step into a gym. meet friends and be sociable.

Again, there isn’t a great deal of negatives with circuit classes, they are like a good all rounder.  The main negatives for me would be a high attendance class with only one instructor, and complicated exercises like kettlebell swings.  The instructor can’t have his eyes on everyone, meaning bad form can go unnoticed leading to injury.  You are also restricted to a schedule with classes.  Lastly, I recommend 30 minute high-intensity classes over 60 minute classes, as studies have shown that there is no difference of affect on the body. 

Yoga:  Is great for the body and mind in many ways, and also compliments weight lifting and other exercising, as it helps keep the muscles flexible.  Yoga can actually help contribute towards strength and muscle gains, but only really along side weight training, and not by itself.

Yoga has no negatives as such, however I feel its exercising that must be done along side other types of exercises, to make a complete program.  I recommend yoga at least once per week to anyone, especially if you are lifting weights.  There are many classes available, and YouTube is also full of Yoga routines to follow along with.

Weight Lifting:  The highest rated form of exercising in the list with 22/25.  For me, weight lifting is the king of exercising for health, strength, fat loss, the mind, calorie burn, and to a lesser extent, fitness.  Add intra-set cardio (thats intense cardio bursts in between each lifting set), and you have the ultimate training program.  Weight training with intra-set cardio actually scores 24/25 for me, and add in yoga once per week and you have a top rated training program.  The benefits of weight training are endless…

Even though weight-training is the Kind of exercises for overall health as well as fat loss, its still not without it’s negatives.  Regular weight training can decrease a persons flexibility, especially if they don’t stretch correctly and for long enough after each session.  This is why I recommend a regular weekly session of yoga.  Weight training done incorrectly, can easily cause injury, and the majority of people don’t do it correctly.  And lastly, weight training takes place in the weights area of a gym, and many people feel very intimidated in this area.  Except the weights area in the Maxx Life gym, it’s extremely welcoming and not intimidating in the slightest.

Walking:  This actually scored the same as running, which means my rating system is flawed, cause I heavily promote walking, but not running.  Although the rating system is scoring everything as an individual exercise, whereas walking is a great addition into a complete health plan.  The main benefits of walking is that it burns calories, maybe not as fast as running, but it is much better on the body.  Walking is also fantastic for the mind, and a good walk in nature can really cheer you up, and get your creative juices flowing (at least it does for me).

Negatives for walking, None.  Get yer coat on and get out walking everyday.

Sprinting:  Quick burst sprint training has a very different effect on the body, compared to running.  Almost the opposite effect.  Sprinting at 95%+ capacity, for 20-30 seconds at a time, with 2 to 3 minutes of rest, is a fantastic form of training, and one with a lot of benefits.  Unlike running, sprinting can actually cause strength and muscle gain, increase metabolism, increase testosterone and improve hormone control, greatly increases cardio and fitness, increase speed, causes a high calorie burn even after the workout has finished.  Incorporate sprint training once per week into your routine and you will reap the benefits from it.  Sprint sessions also don’t need to last any longer than 15 minutes.

Again, very few negatives with sprinting, except to make sure you are well warmed up before exerting that effort on your body, or you could easily injure yourself.

That’s a brief description of several different common types of exercises available.  If you would like to read more in-depth into creating your own unique exercise plan, click here to go to my more detailed information on the subject.

The Workout Plan I Recommend...

There is one plan, with a few different ways to execute it, that I recommend to almost everyone.  This plan will help improve your health, fitness, strength, metabolism, fat loss etc. etc.  Quite simply, it’s a balance of weight-lifting, high-intensity cardio exercising, yoga or a weekly stretching routine and walking.  A very simple balance to start with is 50% weight lifting and 50% cardio, add in a 20 minute stretching or yoga routine and go walking several times per week, and you have a great plan.

There are a few ways to mix weights and cardio into the same plan.  My favourite, and what I do with most of my PT clients, is intra-set cardio, already mentioned above.  Perform a set of weights, followed by 20 second burst of high intensity cardio, followed by a short rest period.  Then repeat for 4 to 5 different exercises, 12 to 15 sets, stretched and you are out the door.  

Another way to mix weights and cardio, is to do 12 to 15 sets of weights first, followed by 10-15 mins high intensity cardio, or 30-40 mins steady state cardio.

Another way to mix the 2, is half your workout sessions are weight lifting and the other half are circuit classes or high intensity sessions, like a sprint session.  

Choose any of those methods for your workout plan, or even mix them up now and again.  Add in your extra stretching and walking and your sorted.

What Else I'd Recommend...

For most people, especially if you haven’t lifted weights before or are only starting out, I’d recommend hiring a personal trainer.  Just like a solicitor would recommend hiring a solicitor if you got in trouble with the law, I’d recommend a PT if your looking to make a change to your health, fitness, lifestyle or physique.  A good trainer will get you working in the right direction from day 1.  That’s what they are qualified to do.  

Hiring a trainer for 1 session per week will certainly help keep you on track.  If you are the type of person who cannot rely on yourself, or who wouldn’t push themselves too hard if they were training by themselves, then consider hiring a trainer for most or all of your workouts.  It’s cheaper to pay more and get somewhere, than to pay less and get nowhere.