Top Three Exercises To Get, Stay In Shape

2008-07-10 10:20

Americans are looking for clear and concise answers when it comes to how to drop a few pounds this summer and many are turning to their personal trainers to show them the way. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently conducted a survey of 1000 ACE-Certified Personal Trainers to get their advice regarding the best techniques to get fit for summer.

They recommended strength training, interval training and increased cardio as their top three exercise approaches for a summer, total-body makeover when combined with a sensible, portion controlled, healthy diet.

1. Strength Training -- Nothing too intimidating, but just 20 minutes of basic exercises two days a week will help firm and tone the whole body. Strength training will modestly increase metabolism, helping to burn more calories -- even at rest. Start any strength-training program with one set of exercises and a weight that allows the completion of eight to 12 repetitions. Any program should exercise the major muscle groups of the lower body, torso, and upper body. Special attention should also be given to strengthening the core muscles and lower back to help enhance individuals' functional capabilities for safely engaging in various summer recreational activities.

2. Interval Training -- Lack of time is the number one reason people give for not exercising regularly and lack of results once they do start exercising isn't far behind. Interval training is a great solution for both of these common problems. Interval training involves alternating short bursts of intense activity with what is called active recovery, which is typically a less-intense form of the original activity. "In its most basic form, interval training might involve walking for two minutes, running for two, and alternating this pattern throughout the duration of a workout, it is an extremely time-efficient and productive way to exercise," said Cedric Bryant, PhD., FACSM, chief science officer for ACE.

3. Increased Cardio/Aerobic Exercise -- Aerobic exercise is any activity that uses large muscle groups in a continuous, rhythmic fashion for sustained periods of time. Walking is a weight-bearing aerobic exercise. So are jogging, rope skipping and dance-exercise. There are also non-weight-bearing aerobic exercises, such as bicycling, stationary cycling, swimming and rowing. "Consistency is key to a successful program, said Bryant. "You should exercise at a comfortable pace and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. To lose weight, gradually work towards accumulating 60 minutes or more of low -- to moderate -- intensity physical activity on most days of the week."

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