I recently got into a heated argument where we were debating what exercise was. Each person in the group had their own definition of exercise. Some believed that walking the dog or as little as throwing out the trash was considered exercise. In some definitions they are right and in some wrong. This was where the disagreement came in. If you were to explain what exercise is, how would you best explain it?
In this article I will define the type of exercise that is necessary for your body to grow stronger and healthier thus abandoning the abstract definition of exercise. I will also discuss why proper exercise plays an important role in your strength building journey and how it can be used to help you achieve your desired body.
What is proper exercise?
According to Nicola Glanville, in an article retrieved from Weightlossresources.co.uk, exercise is any movement that works your body at a greater intensity than your usual level of daily activities. Therefore, activities you do on a regular basis that your body is used to is not considered as exercise. It’s not “therapeutic” enough. Cooking is not exercising. Yes, you might burn a few calories from stirring the pot but that is not exercising. If we were to look at exercise as simply moving your body, you could call smiling, crying or even blinking your eyes as exercise.
For the benefits of exercise to have any positive effects on your health & body you must raise your heart rate and properly workout your muscles. If you are exercising and your heart rate is not increased and/or your muscles don’t feel like they are being worked you should increase the intensity. That’s the best way you will see fast results; by keeping it intense. I always say doing half or short exercises are better than none at all but as a bodybuilder, you have to keep it intense to see quicker results.
The level and type of exercise are specific to the individual. What might be an adequate exercise for someone, might be little or too much for another person. I could cycle for 5 kilometers then to do a 5k race or workout in the gym for an hour (I have done this before) but for another person, that might be too much exercise in one go or one day. You have to identify your level of fitness, the level you want to reach and what you are willing to do while not sacrificing enjoyment. Don’t go crazy because you will suffer the next morning.
Choosing The Right Type of Exercise
Exercise should involve high intensity and it should challenge your body. However, you should find out your limit. Make sure you don’t go overboard as it can be dangerous. When I first started working out I worked out in the gym to the point of almost passing out. I had to step out of the gym to get some fresh air. Try to gradually increase the level of activity over time. The body is very good at adapting. As you increase the body will start adjusting itself to accepting the new challenges and the exercises will become easier. When your body becomes conditioned it’s now time to change it up and provide variation in your exercise routine to avoid plateauing.
Depending on the type of body or muscle development you want, there are different exercises that can help you achieve that. Choose an exercise that you know you will enjoy and are more likely to do on a regular basis; an exercise you can maintain. Not only that, but choose an exercise that if no one wants to tag along to exercise with you, you are motivated to exercise alone.
It would be nice to recruit friends and family to come with you on your journey to living a healthy lifestyle but unfortunately, having discipline and being consistent, are two attributes that people consistently struggle with. It is always easier to do nothing. I can’t count the number of times I would go to exercise by myself. I have been trying to recruit friends and family from the day I started my bodybuilding journey. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to successfully recruit one person. No one has the time, no one can get up that earlier and a thousand other excuses. You too could find yourself in this position. In this case I highly recommend getting a coach/mentor to be by your side each step along the way.
There are four main types/categories that exercise falls in:
When I started going to the gym I didn’t know all of this information. I was just exercising because I wanted to lose weight. Most people normally do one type of exercise. Strength or endurance in my community has been the common ones. It’s either you are lifting weights (normally the men) or you’re hitting the treadmill. People hardly did anything else.
It is important to interchange exercises in your daily routine as it helps to keep your routine exciting so you don’t get bored. You should understand that each type of exercise is different and will give you different body structure, shape, and capabilities. Mixing them up and using others to enhance your main exercise will give you more benefits.
I will be briefly going through each exercise so you have a better understanding and which activities fall in each category. Some activities fit in more than one categories. For example, some strength exercises build balance and some endurance exercises build strength.
Interesting story; I had to do this every morning that I was late for class in college as punishment. My lecturer would have me using one hand to hold one foot and the other to hold my ear. I’m not sure if that was allowed by the university but I learned two things from that experience; not to be late and how to balance. Improving your balance helps you prevent falls and make you feel steadier. This is very important, especially in older adults. Your balance system tends to break down as you get older and therefore training your balance can help you prevent and reverse these issues.
Example balance activities:
- Walking Heel to Toe
- Standing on One Foot
I was always amazed when I saw people doing flexibility activities. I would always think they were gifted and born with it. While that might be true, there are others that learned how to do it by practicing these activities on a regular basis. Stretching helps you to maintain flexibility. It also helps the muscles to be longer, more flexible, increases the range of motion, reduces pain, the risk of injury and to do daily activities like bending down to pick something up.
Incorporate some stretching in your exercise routine every day or at least three or four times a week. Aging leads to lack of flexibility in the muscles and tendons. Muscles are shortened and no longer functions as it should. Include stretching in your warmup and cool down routine as well as your resting days when doing light exercises.
Example of flexibility activities:
Endurance otherwise known as Aerobic exercise is normally the most common activity in my area. It increases your breathing and heart rate. Building endurance helps your body to do a lot of your regular daily activities. Aerobic exercises help lower blood pressure, burn body fat, lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, boost your mood among so many other things.
Endurance exercise works out not only your heart and lungs but it helps to build your mind to be mentally strong. I do this type of exercise on a regular basis. There are normally two or three 5km races every month and I try to participate in at least one every month. I don’t run because I’m trying to lose weight but simply because I enjoy running. Losing weight is just a positive side effect of doing that. Exercise should be an activity you enjoy.
Example exercises for endurance:
- Brisk Walking
This exercise is my favorite physical activity; especially when listening to music. Quite a few females that I have introduced to strength training, think that doing strength training will make them look very masculine. One friend even worries that she would gain too much muscle too easily and that she would look like a man. I have no idea where this myth came from. The idea that doing a type of exercise will make you change gender is ridiculous. As we get older, we lose muscle mass. Therefore, doing strength training exercises can help you retain and even build strength the older you get.
Strength training changed my life. I started seeing results after two months of constant training. My skin was firmer, I felt better, looked better and my muscles got more defined. The main exercise for bodybuilders is strength training. I have never met a bodybuilder that likes doing endurance exercises (cardio). They hate cardio. If you find one that does, let me know.
If you consistently do strength training you will start seeing changes in your body you didn’t know was possible. I would suggest using strength training as the main exercise and use the other types of exercises as enhancers.
Example strength training physical activities:
- Lifting weight
- Using Your Own Body Weight
- Using a resistant band
Later in this article, I will give you an example of my weekly exercise routine.
Why is Exercise Important
Many people might know that exercising is good for their health, but not many know the side effects of not exercising. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in 2013-2014, more than 1 in 3 adults in America are obese. This is not only an issue in America but obesity is a global issue that countries are struggling to control. I remember when I went to the doctor for a check-up. I was already overweight at 17 years old. I could feel the extra weight and knew it was due to my lack of exercise. I had shortness of breath, my feet would hurt when I walked and I felt so uncomfortable in my clothes. The doctor discreetly told me that I was overweight and that’s how I knew it was out of hand.
Not exercising increases the risk of getting a heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, all sorts of cancers and the list goes on. It just makes sense to exercise. Vigorous exercise can also help older adults to avoid disabilities. Get your mom, dad, grandmother, and father out of the house to exercise with you as well. They will thank you for it. It is easier said than done. Let’s now discuss the question of how to make exercise part of your lifestyle?
How to Fit Exercise Into Your Daily Routine
I always hear people saying they don’t have any time to exercise. They are always too busy to find one hour, 30 or even 15 minutes out of their day to do exercise. I used to say that I’m busy and don’t have any time for a lot of things. All excuses. The truth is each of us has the same allotment of time each day.
I will admit that it might be challenging to create some time after work to exercise. Life happens. Nevertheless, it doesn’t excuse you from being physical activity. Instead of taking the elevator in your office building, take the stairs. Do a 5 minute walk on your lunch break, park your car further away so you have to walk to it or cycle to work. These are very great things to do especially when you have a sedentary job.
I would recommend scheduling your exercises in the morning for 45mins – 1 hour. I found that when I exercise before work, I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day. I don’t feel burdened and I feel very energized after my workouts. It also puts me in a good mood for most of the day. This is a breakdown of my weekly routine and I love it so much.
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays – Gym (Strength training, Endurance exercise)
Tuesdays, Thursdays – Cycling (Endurance exercise)
Saturdays – Yoga(Balance, Flexibility)
Sundays – Running/Jogging (Endurance exercise)
Mondays, Thursdays – Swimming (Endurance exercise)
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays – Free
Saturdays – Dancing(Endurance exercise)
As you can see, my routine has a mixture of all four types of exercises. You can create your own routine based on activities that you like to do. I also exercise twice a day sometimes. It’s entirely up to you if you want to rearrange your days. It is normally recommended to take a few days off to recover. For the days that I feel sore, I normally do the same type of exercise but very light movements.
Adding exercise to the start of your day, can almost guarantee that you will be able to fit it in your daily routine more than if you were to schedule it for the evenings. The success principle here is to put the most important things first in life. Follow these recommendations, add your flare to your exercise routine and your exercise will eventually fit right in your life.
I have explained exercise, the importance of it and how to find time for it. I hope these recommendations will help make your strength training journey a little easier. This is the seventh principle in the “How to Be a BodyBuilder” series. In the next principle, I will be discussing strategies I use to stay “consistent” with my strength training journey.