Wednesday, 2 January 2008

How I design a rotation

Anna asked me how I make up my workout rotations, so here's what I do.

First of all, I think of my workouts in categories:
cardio (I own three types: step aerobics, floor aerobics and kickboxing)

yoga (I own two types of this: kundalini yoga and vinyasa flow/ashtanga/power yoga)

strength training aka weight lifting (again, two types in my collection: low resistance/high repetition--sometimes called fast & light--and high resistance/low repetition--sometimes called slow & heavy)

AWT (aerobics with weights training--aka circuit training aka cardio+sculpt aka interval training)

There are so many training styles out there, but these are the types of workouts that I have decided that I prefer. It's important for your success that use a variety of training styles.

Now, there aren't many rules when it comes to making a workout rotation, but there a few key things to remember:

1. Do not weight train the same muscle group two days in a row. Give a muscle group at least 24-48 hours rest between workouts.

2. Even though your heart rate goes up during weight training, it is not thought of as an aerobic workout. It is more anaerobic. Conversely, even though a cardio workout works the legs very hard and might sometimes make you sore, it is not thought of as a sculpting or strength training workout. You need to incorporate both types of training in your regime.

3. For weight loss, conventional wisdom says you need to do 200 minutes a week of cardio (aerobics). For maintenance/heart health, not so much is required. Cardio exercise burns calories during the workout and briefly straight afterward.

4. For strength and muscle building, you need to do weight lifting three times a week, working the targeted muscle group to fatigue. Weight lifting will burn up glycogen stores and build muscle, which burns calories 24 hours a day.

5. You must have a rest day (no working out) at least 1 out of 7 days, but if you go more than 48 hours without a workout, you begin to lose your training effect. There is such a thing as 'active rest', which means you can go for walks, ride bikes, do yoga, etc, on a rest day. These activities are not that strenuous, depending on how you tackle them.

6. Yoga and stretching helps you train those tiny little muscles, improves posture and balance, and helps you perform better on all your workouts. Do include it!

OKAY, so here's how I make a rotation.
1. I sit down with the calendar for the month on which I have written my work start and finish times, days off, appointments, etc. I drop in my REST days on days that I finish work late anyway, making sure to plan one every 5th, 6th or 7th day (ideally). That usually means 4 rest days a month, but remember you can do yoga on rest days, so some of those might end up being yoga days.
2. I then decide what my focus will be for the month. Lately it has been strength training, so I drop in three strength training days per week, making sure there is at least one day between them. I then plug in a cardio or yoga or both on the remaining days. (During my weight loss phase, my focus was more on cardio, so I dropped in cardio first, making sure I chose long enough workouts to total at least 200 minutes a week). If I'm including circuit training, I make sure to go light on any muscle groups I may have worked the day before.
3. Some months I plan every single workout by title, sometimes I just write C, Y, S for cardio, yoga, strength and choose on the day.

I'm not a bodybuilder or 'super serious' exerciser or anything. The above tips are designed for people who want to achieve and maintain weight loss and overall fitness through relatively moderate at-home exercise. (While it's true that I am an 'advanced' home exerciser, I don't consider myself in any way an athlete. I know some home exercisers do, but I think jumping up and down in your living room a few days week is nowhere near athleticism. Being in good shape doesn't make you an athlete.) Anyway, you will find all sorts of more detailed and theoretical training methods elsewhere online. I'm not getting into any of that! This is what I do and it's worked for me so far!

Happy rotation planning!

*Sigh* This story is all over the news today: UK, US most keen on fast food

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