To get the most of out a workout you need to know how to exercise. Without that knowledge, you may not get the most out of your workout, be it simple or complex.
Unlike aerobic exercise, muscle workout sessions tend to be shorter. Also, muscular strength doesn’t degrade nearly as fast as aerobic capacity. Muscle workout can also help you lose weight (not as good as cardio workout, but it still has some benefits for that).
Keep reading to learn more about how to exercise your muscles or to learn how to exercise aerobically.
I don’t want big muscles, that stuff is for men!
Please don’t think that building muscle is for men only! Remember – your muscles are used every day so avoid neglecting them.
You don’t need to be a body builder! Muscular strength and flexibility can help you tone your body, define your curves and prevent any skeletal problems in the future.
One quick and simple way to improve your muscular strength is with isometric exercises. They can be performed almost anywhere and even whilst seated!
Let’s revise the three fundamentals for how to exercise.
The three elements to exercise are:
BUT, whilst these elements are incorporated into a muscular exercise program, they are applied differently than aerobic exercise.
How to exercise – Intensity
The definition is still the same; Intensity is how hard you push yourself during your exercise program.
Exercising muscles is all about control. Strength building exercise needs to be performed steadily, with control. An intense workout is achieved when your muscles move through its maximum range of motion. In other words, they need to go from fully relaxed to fully tensed and back again.
Range of motion is sometimes referred to as maximum tension or maximum flexion. It’s essentially the same thing. Note that by not stretching during a warm up, you will limit your muscles range of motion, limiting your intensity.
Don’t push your muscles beyond their MAX range of motion. Doing so may be very painful if too much muscle tissue is torn. This is too intense and will take much longer than necessary, to recover. Your MAX range of motion will improve as you build strength. Subsequently, you will become more flexible.
Remember to exercise both sides of your body equally. If you stretch your right leg, do the same with your left. You need a balanced body just as much as a balanced diet.
How to exercise – Frequency
Again, this is how often you exercise per week. To get a good routine going, focus on your muscles for 3 days of the week. If you combine this with an aerobic workout, you can alternate the exercise type, day-by-day and have a rest day in between.
I referred to this as the A/B rule. This will help motivate you to keep your routine going. The benefits you gain from building muscle will certainly help when exercising aerobically.
I would definitely recommend exercising both types of exercise (your muscles and aerobic capacity/ VO2 MAX) but as always, consult your doctor/dietician.
Frequency (using the gym) – Gym sessions tend to last longer, on fewer days of the week. That’s just in their nature.
If you do have a gym membership you’ll probably stay for about 1-2 hours. In which case try to split time into 4 equal sections. Work a particular muscle group in each section or split it into an aerobic and muscular workout.
The A/B rule can be applied here too. Perhaps start on the treadmill, then work your thighs then back to an aerobic exercise and finish using an exercise ball.
If money is tight or you haven’t achieved your desired result in the gym, save some time and money and cancel your membership. It is not necessary to go to the gym to be aerobically fit, strong and flexible.
I am not discounting gyms for their worth. But if you don’t get great results, why pay for it when you can exercise effectively, for free?
Love using free weights in the gym?
If you don’t want to quit the gym and love using free weights, consider improving your routine.
Exercising your Core Muscles
One way to exercise your core muscles is to do some Pilates. Pilates usually involves you lying on your back to tense and relax your core muscles, making them stronger and firmer.
Another great piece of home exercising equipment is an exercise ball (AKA Swiss Ball). An exercise ball is one of the cheapest, most versatile way to exercise your core muscles and the exercises are quite simple.
How to exercise – Duration
Each individual stretch/lift/push etc should be held for a matter of seconds. The exact time will vary but it usually ranges from 5-12 seconds.
Overall, aim to work your muscles for 30 minutes. Don’t Forget, you need to give 3-5 minutes for a warm up and a cool down (that’s 6-10 mins in total).
Cool Downs – Stretches
You can’t replace one with the other, both are important. Cool downs prevent your muscles from tightening up too quickly after exercise. A cool down releases any tension in your muscles and joints, experienced during exercise.
The same principals are used in facial exercise and eye exercise. We use our eyes everyday and make hundreds of facial expressions every day. There is bound to be a lot of tension in our face and eye muscles. That tension can be a cause of wrinkles and stress.
What happens if I break the rules?
Intensity – If, rather than using steady, controlled movements, you move quickly or explosively, you’ll risk injury. Bouncing during the movement will have a similar effect and reduce the benefits gained by that muscle.
Frequency – Any less than 3 sessions a week is typically only useful for maintenance. However, since muscular retention is better than aerobic retention, skipping a week won’t be such a big deal.
Since each muscular exercise lasts for seconds, it is sometimes easier to build muscle than building fitness. Without building muscle, building fitness may take longer and can reduce your recovery time.
Duration – Just like aerobic fitness, any less than 30 mins won’t reap as many benefits. Also, taking long breaks, anything over 60 seconds will reduce the intensity of a workout, reducing its effectiveness.
And don’t forget the most important part – healthy eating is another thing to do before and after your workouts.