Fitness: Going (almost) pro

In the previous post, the claim was made that you can approach the fitness level of a professional athlete through 6 hours of exercise per week. Let’s take a look at how this is done.

In general, four broad categories of exercise can be defined and, if you want to take your body to the next level, you should make sure that you incorporate all of these into your active fitness environment. This post will only list these categories and briefly describe what they are and why they are important. The example-posts that will follow this fitness-post series will give some implementation guidelines (how to make it fun and automatic).

1. Aerobic training (cardio)

This is the most important category and should form the foundation of your active fitness environment. Cardio exercises are the ones that get your heart pumping and your lungs working – stuff like running, cycling, swimming and cross-country skiing. Cardio exercises have a long list of benefits, but the primary benefit is the positive effect on heart health. Heart disease is the primary killer in the west and cardio exercises can very efficiently protect you against this rampant killer.

2. Anaerobic training

Weight training and sprinting are the two best known forms of anaerobic exercise. In general, this type or training is done when muscles are pushed close to their maximum capacity for a short period of time either for maximum strength or maximum speed. The most obvious benefit of anaerobic training is more and better toned muscle mass which in itself has many benefits. Anaerobic activity also strengthens bones and tendons, thereby lowering the risk of injury.

3. Flexibility training

This type of training is done when muscles are stretched to the maximum length they can comfortably reach. The stretching exercises we normally do for warm-up or warm-down fall in this category together with other disciplines such as Yoga. Flexibility is important to extend your range of motion which helps to prevent injury and increase performance. It also helps with good posture, circulation and fast recovery after exercise.

4. Skills training

Skilled sports played with a ball or another object fall in this category. These sports require quick, precise and instinctive motions which often involve many different muscle groups and offer excellent training for simply improving the usefulness of your body. Excellent coordination/reflex/balance capabilities will enhance all activities in the preceding categories and increase the ease and the pleasure with which they are completed. Naturally, these benefits will also spill over to enhance many normal day-to-day activities. 

A very rough guideline for distributing your six hours of exercise among these categories would be as follows: 4 hours cardio (of which at least 1 hour is a skilled sport), 1 hour strength and 1 hour flexibility. A fully functional body demands regular exercise from each of these four categories.

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