I am asked frequently how can I get a fit body. Nothing about fitness and training is cookie cutter. What may work for one person may not work for you.
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Challenging your body
According to Prestes, Lima, Frollini, Donatto, and Conte (2009), after 12 weeks of resistance training for 3 days per week decreased fat mass, increased lean body mass, while improving strength. If that is not the definitely of becoming fit I am not sure what is!
For a fit body workout, I highly recommend total body training days for those who are new to weight training, 2-3 days a week. I also recommend hitting each large muscle group at least one, and to keep the body in balance have equal push and pull movements.
For example: pick one lower body pushing motion like goblet squats (one of my favorite lifting exercise for beginners and elite athletes) or walking lunges and also pick one lower body pulling motion like Romanian deadlifts or ham string curls to balance the quadriceps and hamstrings, allowing the hip and leg to be in balance.
Again, hitting one upper body pushing motion like a dumbbell chest press to balance any upper body pulling motions like a pull up will allow the shoulder and thoracic to remain in balance. Aim to hit quadriceps, hamstrings, back, chest, shoulders, and core at least once during a work out. For beginners, I recommend 2-3 sets of 10-12 for hypertrophy (increase muscle size) and for those who have some experience and good form in all exercises you can go 3-4 sets of 8-12 for hypertrophy as well!
A highly intense form of training that improves fitness levels
According to Denham, Feros, and O’Brien (2015), after sprinting for three days a week for four weeks, participants improved their VO2 (oxygen uptake used during a maximum test) and improved their 5 km run performance, thus improving their cardio-respiratory levels.
Clearly sprints can help improve for fitness levels. I do not recommend sprinting if you do not have the strength or balance to do weighted lunges in a deep range of motion.
For those who do not have the strength, I recommend walking at an incline for 1:00 with 1-2 minute recovery for 15-25 minutes. For those who do have the strength, I recommend starting with 100-200 meter sprints (20-45 seconds) with 1-2 minute recovery with 6-10 repetitions of sprints.
You want your work to rest ratio equal or with a bit more rest if you are new to sprinting. If you are going hard during these sprints, you will want the recovery time. Increasing your heart rate to high levels near your maximum require the rest to recover and allow your body to perform another sprint at that same level.
To look fit, you need to be fit
Increasing your strength, decreasing your fat mass, and increasing your cardio-respiratory levels are three for sure ways you can improve and look more fit.
Ending thoughts; if you aren’t challenging yourself that you are not improving yourself. Continuing the same work out, same weights, same repetitions, etc. for months is not challenging your body and you will not see the improvement you are looking for.
Prestes, J., De Lima, C., Frollini, A.B., Donatto, F.F., & Conte, M. (2009). Comparison of linear and reverse linear periodization effects on maximal strength and body composition. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(1), 266-274.
Denham, J., Feros, S.A., O’Brien, B.J. (2015). Four weeks of sprint interval training improves 5 km rum performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000862.