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August 11, 2021 9 min read

Without regular exercise, chances are you will be in poor shape. It might seem obvious but exercise is vital for maintaining body weight, strength training, muscle strength, flexibility and balance - alongside much, much more. 

Nevertheless, we seldom do enough. At the same time, if we do exercise regularly, we often limit ourselves to only one or two types of activity.  But don't beat yourself up if your physical activity is somewhat lacking. It is normal.

According to Rachel Wilson, a physical therapist at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, "people do what they enjoy or what feels the most effective, so many aspects of exercise and fitness are ignored. 

That said, there is plenty you can do. A good workout is one of your best bets. Time and time again academic studies argue that we should all - especially older adults - do more aerobic, strengthening, balance and flexibility exercises. Our mental and physical health depends on it! 

To help you on your way, in this article we note the 4 types of workouts and their benefits. But be advised: while of paramount importance, exercise plays only part of the story. Alone it will not suffice. For weight loss and improving your overall body weight, diet is also key!

1. Aerobic Exercise 

Anything that speeds up your heart rate and gets those lungs pumping is good for you. This is especially true of aerobic exercise. By giving our heart and lungs a good kicking, it increases endurance and helps maintain essential body functions. 

fit man on treadmill

Aerobic exercise is a form of endurance exercise, as it forces the body to produce energy in the presence of oxygen. This increases the ability of our bodies to sustain work over type. Indeed, it is the best way to burn calories in the fastest time frame, due to how it increases our heart rate and the muscles’ need for oxygen. 

Aerobic exercises can range from light to medium intensity. That is, where your heart rate hovers at around 60 - 75 percent of your maximum effort or soars to over 90 percent during an intense bout of exercise. 

A good tool for all things aerobic, plus strength training, is the rowing machine. Other examples of endurance exercises include running, biking or jogging. Even everyday activities such as scaling the stairs or brisk walking, can be considered aerobic. 

But do not get too loose with those definitions ...

Example: Marching on the Spot 

  • Start with your feet together and arms at your sides.
  • Bend your elbows and swing your arms as you lift your needs. 
  • It is also possible to march in a variety of styles. You can alternate marching with your feet wide and together (out, out, in, in), marching in place with your feet wide apart, marching four steps forward and then four steps backward. 
  • A couple of things to bear in mind. Regulate your breath so that it is steady and consistent. Maintain a good posture. Look straight ahead and keep your abs tight. 

Benefits of Aerobic Activity 

And the benefits? Aerobic exercise also helps relax blood vessel walls, lower blood pressure, burn body fat, lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, boost mood and mental well-being, and raise good HDL cholesterol - hell yeah! 

In tandem with a healthy, nutritious diet -  we can help you with that too - aerobic exercise and other endurance activities can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer and depression.

2. Strength Training 

As we become older adults, our muscles dwindle. Fortunately, strength training can build them back. Any well designed exercise program should have you strength training two to three times per week. Either at work, in the gym or at home.

The best strength exercises are squats, push ups, lunges, besides exercises that involve resistance training from weights or resistance bands. After you exercise, remember it is normal - and, in fact, good to feel muscle fatigue. This means you are working and training your muscle groups effectively. 

Example: ​Squat ​

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, arms by your sides. 
  • Then slowly bend your hips and knees, lowering your buttocks about eight inches, as if you were sitting back in your favorite chair. To assist your balance, let your arms swing forward. Meanwhile keep your back straight! Finally, slowly return to the starting position. 
  • Repeat 12 times. 
  • Here are a couple of tips. Shift your weight onto your heels. Also: squeeze your buttocks as you stand, as this will help you maintain balance.

Squats - try them! They are one of the best lower-body strength exercises out there. Here is a guide to  one of the best full body workouts (hint: it includes squats)

Benefits of Strength Training 

Most basically, strength training can assist you in basic tasks, including mowing the lawn, carrying your shopping and lifting heavy objects, all the while reducing your risk of injury. 

Strength training not only allows you to incorporate strength into your daily life, but stimulates bone growth, lowers blood sugar, assists with weight control, improves balance and posture, and reduces stress and pain in the lower back joints. 

If this was not enough, there are dozens more proven benefits from strength training. These include preventing and controlling chronic conditions, such as heart disease, back pain and depression, greater stamina, an improved sense of well being, improved muscle strength and tone, and, of course, reduce your own body weight. 

In short - it improves our overall health no end. Want to turbo charge your strength training?  Steel Supplements boasts a range of innovative products to help you out.

3. Balance Training 

Balance training should be the cornerstone of your exercise program. Why? Whether you are aware of it or not, balance is integral to how we move, reach, walk and even stand. By training the muscles and supporting body mechanics which keep us moving, we can better stabilize our whole body and carry ourselves with confidence. 

The main problem is that when one thinks of balance training, they mostly think of our ability to balance on one leg or on your hands. This could not be further from the truth. Yoga and static stretches, such as the tree pose, half-moon pose and crow pose are excellent additions to any workout routine.

This is due to their range of motion. Try seeing if you can hold each pose for ten seconds at first and then work your way up. Importantly, make sure you work on both your left and right sides to improve symmetry. You can also try tai chi. 

Example: Standing Knee Lift 

  • This one is a keeper. 
  • Stand up straight with your feet together and your hands on your hips. 
  • Then lift your left knee towards the heavens as high as it is comfortable or until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold as much as you can. Then delicately lower your knee back to the starting position. 
  • Repeat this exercise 3 to 5 times. Or more if you are feeling like showing off.
  • Do not forget the other leg!

Benefits of Balance Training 

Why balance training is vital is due to a whole host of reasons. By performing such movements, postural alignment is improved. This is key for promoting stability throughout our bodies. 

Indeed, if left unchecked, postural imbalances can worsen and eventually lead to a lack of functional movement, pain and some pretty serious physical ailments. 

Strengthening and stretching these problem areas can improve and prevent these issues. Correct movement patterns and respective focused training is a must. 

Besides physical balance, balance training can help us achieve emotional balance and improve our well-being. A daily dose of yoga or tai chi is one of the best ways to improve mental stability. It can allow individuals a much needed moment to look objectively at themselves, meanwhile training the mind to be much less harmful to itself. 

Moreover, Balance training can increase our proprioception, reduce the risk of fall injuries and increase neuroplasticity and cognitive function. Oh and it is a great warm up activity too. 

Need more advice on designing the perfect exercise program? This informative resource from  Steel Supplements provides all you need to know. It is all there - trust us!

4. Flexibility Training 

Stretching maintains flexibility. It is as simple as that. Nevertheless, when we are young and our muscles are healthier (and happier), we tend to overlook the need for flexibility exercises. 

Unfortunately, aging deprives us of flexibility in the muscles and tendons - alongside much else. Our muscles shorten, contract and fail to function as they once did. This can lead to an increased risk of muscle pain, cramps, damage, strains, joint pain and falling. 

Alarmingly, it can also make it tough to get through daily activities that require a larger range of motion, such as tying your shoelaces. 

Forms of Flexibility Training 

Flexibility is actually quite complicated when you come to think of it. There are numerous, yet distinctive forms of flexibility exercises, that impinge heavily on your individual practice and goals. The three popular go-tos are: 

1. Passive Stretching 

Well suited to a post-workout, when the muscles are fully warmed up, passive stretching is when we relax the muscles being stretched. Examples include lengthening the hamstrings in a banded hamstring mat stretch. Supplements, such as  Carb, Electrolyte and Amino Replenishment, are also vital tools for post work out recovery.

2. Dynamic Stretching 

This is for pre-work out. It ought to include movements and exercises similar to those in the workout itself.

Runner man getting ready to run doing warm-up dynamic leg stretch exercises routine

These flexibility exercises are magnificent for the circulatory system. They will add a little spring in your step and increase your fascia's elastic properties.

3. Active Stretching

Active stretching helps us move. It will allow us to achieve faster increases in range of motion than other modalities. Active stretching takes place when specific muscles are held in a fixed position with no outside force (for example an overhead tricep stretch).  This stretching also stimulates the nervous system.

Example: Single Knee Rotation 

  • Start by lying on your back with your legs extended on the floor. 
  • Relax your shoulders against the floor. Bend your left knee and place your left foot on your right thigh, just above the knee. With tight abdominal muscles, grab hold of your left knee with your right hand and pull it across your body towards your right side. Warning: do so gently.
  • Hold for around half a minute. Then return to the starting position and repeat. And repeat some more. 
  • This is a fantastic form of stretching exercise. But you can make it even better by stretching to the point of mild tension - not pain! Keeping both your shoulders flat on the floor. 

Benefits of Flexibility Training

On the other hand, stretching the muscles routinely makes them longer, supple and more flexible. This, of course, increases your range of motion and reduces potential problems, pains and injuries.

In an ideal world, aim to perform flexibility exercises every day. However, three or four times per week is still beneficial if this is not possible. 

As a rough guide, warm up your muscles first with a few minutes of dynamic stretches. For instance, you could try repetitive motion, such as marching on the spot or arm circles. This will get the blood pumping, and render your muscles supple. 

Next move onto passive stretches for your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, quardripes and the muscles of the shoulders, neck and lower back. This is some serious yard work! 

However, do not push a stretch too far. When you feel pain your body is telling you something. Too tight muscles will damage and this is counterproductive.

Combining Workout Types to Maximize the Benefits of Each 

We have discussed the 4 types of workouts and their benefits. These were aerobic, strength, balance and flexibility. Each has their own unique set of benefits for your body and mind!

However, it is important to note that the best results are always achieved through a variety of exercises and workout types. Said otherwise, you need to do all four! 

For those of you who are serious about exercising regularly, seek advice from a professional to build your perfect exercise program. It should divide your training regime into cycles that tailor to the different workouts. Both in terms of the type of exercise and intensity and volume. 

The result? You will optimize your performance and ensure you peak for any planned exercise event or daily activity. Our  incredible library of content also has a number of handy tips. 

Combining workouts has additional benefits. Aerobic exercise and strength training will bolster your mental strength and will power. Inevitably, you will be able to lift heavier loads for longer. 

If you want to take your training one step further, work on exercises that incorporate both strength and endurance, such as compound movements or weight machines.

You’ll also want to be sure to load up on  some great supplements. A good example is squat presses or planks. These are sure to get your feelings burning.

Overall, the key to an effective and efficient workout routine is equilibrium. Our fitness should bring balance to the entire body, mind and all. Each workout type at a time!