Doing some form of daily efficient exercise is extremely important to one’s physical health and well as mental health, especially over the last year. Now that things are finally starting to get back to normal, many individuals are ready to get out of the house and do something. However, it can be hard to find time to exercise daily. From working a 9-5, going to school full time, or whatever it may be going on in your life, we all can get quite busy. To make it fit into our schedule, it is important to be efficient with what we do. Nobody wants to spend two hours at the gym after a long day of work, or pass up spending time with friends on a Saturday night to go for a run. It is also crucial to find something enjoyable, and something one can look forward to every day. Learn to what is right for you, and how to get the most out of your workouts. Don’t waste your time doing something that won’t benefit you, be efficient and be smart!

Types of Exercise: Cardio and How It Works

The right program for you depends on what your main goal is. These goals could include losing weight, gaining muscle, maintaining muscle, or simply just stay in shape and continue to be mobile and healthy. Let’s start with one of the most common goals: losing weight. According to WebMD, about half of Americans are actively trying to lose weight. While it sounds easier said than done, the only real way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit, which is burning more calories than you consume. While mastering your diet is one thing, the best way to burn calories is through cardio. There are two main types of cardiovascular exercise: HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) and LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State). HIIT is usually 10-20 minutes of intense and very active exercise. These could include sprints, burpees, pull-ups, push-ups, or fast cycling. An example of a HIIT workout could be to sprint for 1 minute, jog for two, repeat three times, followed by 2 minutes of burpees, 2 minutes of squats, and two minutes of jumping jacks. It can be done quickly and with little to no equipment.

LISS on the other hand is a steady-state version of cardio that is usually between 30 and 90 minutes. This could include a slow jog, walking on an incline treadmill, or swimming. Many people underestimate walking as an easy and efficient exercise, as a 150-pound person with a 3.5 MPH walking pace can burn 150 calories in just 30 minutes! Swimming is also a fantastic exercise, as it can burn upwards of 255 calories in 30 minutes while also being easy on your joints. An average cardio session is expected to burn 400 calories, but this can differ based on your goals and weight. While both are great alternatives, there are pros and cons to both. For someone with time constraints, the HIIT style may be the way to go. However, if you are low on energy from a long Monday, you may want to do a less intense LISS workout. Both types are great forms of efficient exercise. To be efficient, it helps to go in with a plan. Knowing exactly what you are going to do will save time, and we all know time is crucial. Another important part of cardio is to make it fun. Cardio can at times become boring and it may start to become repetitive. A great way to combat this is to try and make it fun! Playing basketball, soccer, volleyball, or martial arts are all great forms of cardio that can be more fun than walking on the treadmill. However, cardio isn’t just for people trying to lose weight. It is always important to train your heart, no matter what your main goal is. Don’t neglect your cardio!

Types of Exercise: Weight Lifting and How to Utilize It

A man bench pressing, which falls under the lifting weights category of efficient exercise
Proper Bench Press Form

For someone looking to add some muscle, lifting weights is the best way to do it. Lifting weights is also good for mobility and good for avoiding injuries. For a beginner, it is important to first be able to learn proper form using lighter weights before lifting heavy. It is also important to thoroughly stretch and do a quick warm-up before lifting weights. A good start would be doing three full-body workouts a week. This will get your muscles in a routine and teach you the proper form to avoid injury. An intermediate-to-advanced person would transition to workouts that are focused on push, pull, and legs. “Push” workouts focus on pushing movements that utilize the chest, shoulders, and triceps. “Pull” focuses on the back and bicep muscles, while legs focus on the leg muscles that include the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. By doing this routine, you can train these muscles multiple times a week, which is important for growth. Some of the most effective exercises are bench press, deadlifting, and squatting. These are beneficial for push, pull, and legs, respectively.

The form is crucial for these exercises to avoid injury. To find the right form, watch videos, see diagrams, and don’t be afraid to ask someone at the gym! Most of the time, someone with more experience would gladly help you out. Focus on doing lower reps in the 4-6 range for these compound movements, while doing higher reps (8-12) for exercises that utilize smaller muscles, such as arms, shoulders, or calves. Pull-ups and push-ups are also great exercises, especially if you do not have access to a gym. For more great advice on lifting specifics, check out Bodybuilding.com, as it is a great forum for people looking to get in shape. Once again, come to the gym with a plan and a set of exercises or goals for that day. This will help you nail a workout while being efficient and smart while exercising.

What Type of Exercise Works for Me?

Example of a women walking on a treadmill, a great form of exercise.
Walking on the treadmill is a great form of efficient exercise

Now that we have a good understanding of types of exercise, it is time to find out what works for you. It all depends on what your long-term goals and what your schedule looks like. If you are looking to lose weight, look to focus more on cardio than weightlifting. Try to do 4-5 cardio sessions per week. These don’t have to be intense such as running but can be something as simple as going for a hike on a Saturday. Try different things, and find out what works for you. If you are busy, try a quick HIIT workout. However, don’t neglect lifting weights! While weight training doesn’t burn as many calories, it is good for mobility and muscle development. If you are looking to bulk up and put on some muscle, go heavy on the weights. An intermediate weightlifting schedule would train six days a week with the following schedule: Upper body, lower body, push, pull, legs. While this may be too much for someone with a busy schedule, you can always work around your day and modify it to your needs. This plan would require minimal cardio, with maybe one low-intensity or high-intensity session per week.

For someone looking to simply stay in shape while maybe putting on some muscle, try to find a good balance of lifting and cardio. This schedule could include 4-5 lifts per week while mixing in 2-3 sessions of cardio. No matter what you are looking to do, always find what works for you. Make sure you are enjoying what you are doing, and if you don’t see results, try switching things up! Time is precious for someone working a full-time job or taking five college classes. Try doing 15 minutes of cardio before work and lift for 45 minutes after work. Be efficient with what you do and try to avoid doing exercises that you don’t see progress in. Efficient exercise involves things that work and benefit you directly.

Miscellaneous Advice for Beneficial, Efficient Exercise

There are many little things that go into exercising and having the ambition to do so. No matter what you are doing, always have a plan. Map out your workouts on Sunday, and go into Monday with each day planned to save time and have a great week to exercise efficiently. An important thing that many people neglect is proper stretching. Stretching helps prevent injury and puts you in a better situation to have a solid workout. Yoga is also a great way to stretch, and a great way to help muscle recovery. Try to avoid exercising on an empty stomach, as it will hurt your energy. Try to never be nervous or intimidated while walking into a gym. Everyone is there for the same reason, to get better and healthier. Nobody is there to judge you, they are there to get beneficial and efficient exercise after a long day. Sometimes, having a new set of clothes can help with confidence and have you excited to walk into a gym and work towards your goals. Check out websites such as Nike, Lululemon, Alphalete, Gymshark, and Adidas to find great clothes and gear for your next workout. Hopefully, this information will be able to help you find the right exercise program for you. At the end of the day, only you can decide what is right for your body. That being said, give different exercises a try, and see what they can do for you.