What Form Of Exercise Is Best For Your Goals?

By Kateri Kane, PT, DPT

Regular exercise should be a routine for everyone whether that person’s goal is maintaining good health, weight loss, or simply staying in shape. But what form of exercise is the best fit for your goals?

In a previous blog we discussed the appropriate routine for exercise for health reasons vs. weight loss which can be found here.  So then, what sort of exercises should you do if your goal is to stay active and in shape?  Well, to figure that out, let’s address one more question. Do you want to build larger muscles for power, have more toned muscles for endurance, or do you want more overall energy?

If your goal is to build larger power muscles or create more toned endurance muscles then the solution is resistance/weight training.  For building power muscles, the key is higher intensity exercise over a short period of time; therefore, performing a low number of repetitions with increasingly heavier weights would be the route you want to take.  Discovering your 1 to 10 repetition maximum (RM) would be a beneficial tool for this form of training.  Your 10 RM is found by testing the amount of weight that you can lift for 10 repetitions.  If you can lift 50 pounds 10 times and are unable to lift one more repetition, then this is your 10 RM.  There are calculators online (like this one) that can help you discover what your 1 RM is based on your 10 RM or any other RM under 10.  By performing several sets of your 1 to 10 RM (whichever number of repetitions you chose within this range) you will be causing your muscles to hypertrophy thus gaining size and power.

If you said your goal is to create a fit and toned shape to your body with more endurance, then you should be focused on performing low-intensity, repetitive, or sustained activities over a prolonged period of time.  Do a larger number of repetitions with a lower amount of weight during your exercise routine in order to meet these goals.  Endurance training is an important component for maintaining proper posture due to the fact that these posture muscles must support you for the entire day.  It is also an important component of training in the work force when your job requires repetitive motions throughout the day.  So, when toning and endurance are your goals, start by performing 15 repetitions of your exercises and gradually build up your number of repetitions instead of simply increasing the amount of weight.

Endurance is also an important factor for those individuals who wish to get more energy out of their exercise routine.  Aerobic exercise is one form of endurance training that can be particularly beneficial for these individuals.  Aerobic exercise is classified as low-intensity, repetitive exercise of large muscle groups performed over an extended period of time that increases the need for oxygen.  Instead of weight training, this form of exercise consists of activities like walking, running, biking, swimming, etc.  Overall, aerobic exercise improves the muscles ability to use energy and increases the body’s maximum oxygen consumption, resulting in increased muscular and cardiopulmonary endurance.

In general, a combination of resistance training and aerobic training may be the best fit for most individuals.  It is important to note that there are risks with every type of exercise depending on your current health status, so if you are unsure if you are fit for these various forms of exercise, check with a healthcare professional.  There are an abundance of exercises that can be done for each area of the body so we cannot list all of them here.  In order to figure out which exercises you should do to strengthen certain areas of your body, please contact your physical therapist who can direct you toward the best routine for your goals. If you have any questions on this topic or any others in which you are interested, feel free to leave any questions, comments, or suggestions. Thank you for reading and stay active.



Muscle and Strength

Kisner C., Colby LA. Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques (5th edition); Philadelphia: F. A. Davis Company; 2007: 149, 165, 232.


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