Similar to topics like motivation for weight loss or nutrition, many trends, recommendations, and resources are available on the internet. Finding the right workout strategy is tricky; the next issue is balancing sports and a full-time job. “After work gym – endurance training – some machines – back home” seems to be the most straightforward plan. Does it work out effectively? Of course, it depends on what exactly you have set as your goal, but in any scenario, working off excess calories on the treadmill is only one component of the weight-loss process. If you only train your endurance, you won’t have enough muscles to burn calories and protect your body against becoming overweight, and if you only build muscles, you neglect your cardiovascular system.
If you want to train strength and endurance in one day, following the right order when training the exercise sessions is essential. Based on Jana Stewart’s best tips, our body fitness athlete from the USA, we wrote down a helpful guide on how to shape your perfect workout.
Strength before endurance
That doesn’t mean you should jump right on the machines – a short warm-up on the stepper or treadmill is important to avoid injury. However, the targeted endurance training should happen after the strength training. You round off the entire training session with stretching to do something good for your body and not to shorten the trained muscles.
Here is our recommendation for the optimal workout in 3 steps:
Step 1: Strength training
If you want to train strength and endurance together, setting priorities is fundamental: Strengthening exercises should go first, and within strength training, the large muscle groups should take precedence over the small muscle groups. Extensive endurance training before strength training would lead to body exhaustion, concentration during strength training would decrease, and the risk of injury would increase. The order of strength before endurance not only reduces the risk of injury but is also ideal for fat loss. Training on weights or fitness machines uses up the body’s sugar stores – and so endurance training increasingly targets fat stores as a source of energy.
After you finish your weight training workout, you may burn more calories throughout the day. This is due to Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
Step 2: Endurance training
Endurance training helps you reduce weight, strengthens the cardiovascular system, and supplies the body and brain with oxygen. It would be best if you did it after the strength training because the other way around, you would have much less strength for the muscles and would act counterproductively. Depending on how long you want to exercise, you should adjust the duration of your endurance training after the strength training: If you want both workouts to be extensive, it is recommended to train endurance and strength on two different days. Otherwise, you can train both in one session, just don’t overload your body.
Step 3: Stretching
Many tend to skip stretching. However, it is essential for the body’s regeneration and the muscles’ relaxation after physical activity. Stretching also increases the mobility of joints and strengthens tendons and ligaments, which makes the body less vulnerable. Regardless of the training sequence, the following applies to stretching: always stretch the muscle itself and its counterpart (antagonist). This means, for example, that you should stretch not only the biceps but also the opposite part – the triceps.
It’s recommended to stretch after your main training: extensive stretching before the strength workouts would affect performance due to the lack of pre-tension in the muscles.
Set up your perfect workout routine
After the exercise sequence is defined, you can start putting together your special workout. There are numerous exercise combinations for all muscle groups, and you should choose the exercises you enjoy the most, so you can rather make your training more likely to stick. Sometimes we don’t like a particular part of our body and tend to train only this part neglecting the rest. Ideally, you dedicate a certain amount of time to the whole body, focusing on all major muscle groups: leg, arm, back, chest, abdominal, and shoulder.
Depending on your exercise preferences, you can compose your workout by yourself, or if you have yet to find out, what you like, you can try out some of the exercises shared online by different coaches. Before starting your research, you should have a look at some gym exercises we prepared for you, provided by our athlete Jana Stewart.
Start with the right mindset
Jana Stewart recommends starting with a goal and following through on it, both short-term and long-term. A strategy, including what you’ll eat and how often you exercise, can help maintain discipline. Some people keep a diary in which they write down what they ate during the day so they can also count the calories. Others also plan in detail what they will eat to prepare meals for the entire week. In this way, the risk of eating junk food will be lower because if you are hungry, you will always have something healthy in the fridge. Whichever way you choose to do it, you should think one step ahead: whether it’s your sports bag with the gym clothes you’re taking to work tomorrow or a healthy lunch for which you still need to buy the necessary ingredients.
Returning to “liking the exercise,” Jana also recommends having fun with what you do. For example, if gym training is not your thing at all, you can also cycle in the fresh air instead. It’s important not to torture yourself because if you force yourself too much, you probably won’t stick with it for long.
Another and probably the most important element is to stay positive about yourself and your body. Believe in yourself and your progress; this mindset will help you stay on track!