The TYPE of exercise you do is the last part of the FITT principle and is significant to deriving maximum benefits out of exercise. In strength training, mechanical resistance is best placed on the muscles through free weights like dumbbells and barbells. Resistance always works vertically, in the direction of gravity. So, free weights ensure that tension on the muscles can be maintained continuously, especially where you are using multiple joints in an exercise – like the squat and deadlift.
Machines using pulleys and cables are not favored for exercises that involve the whole body and that are done in standing – squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc. Such exercises are called structural, as they use multiple joints and positively load the entire bone structure, stimulating bone growth maximally. These exercises are unsupported and they demand brain-body coordination of multiple muscles and joints, and very importantly the core – muscles that go to support and stabilize the spine. Training the core in this way has the greatest functional transfer to daily life activities, by making them easier and faster to execute. Hence, they contribute to the anti-aging benefits of exercise.
Although machines using pulleys and cables are useful, use them sparingly. Reserve them for exercises that occur at only one joint. Like lateral raises, leg curls, etc. Such exercises when done with free weights, do not challenge the muscle to their full potential. What’s more, they do not demand the core to work hard. And so, a lateral raise on a machine is superior to dumbbells.
In Cardio, type/mode will depend on the amount of joint stress wanted or allowed. These range from Weight bearing Impact based (running, stair climbing, cardio kickboxing, to name a few) to non-weight bearing non-impact based (indoor rowing, cycling, and swimming, to name a few). Swimming and cycling are actions that will take the body weight off her knees and allow her a pain-free prolonged bout of cardio exercise. When you choose running or jogging for cardio, you welcome a lot of benefits. It is a highly functional activity that prepares you to move rapidly and speedily. The repetitive striking of the foot on the road/treadmill places positive stress on the bones stimulating bone growth, making them dense. Moreover, since the action is natural, there is not a great deal of skill to be developed.
When it comes to flexibility training, choose the stretches that elongate multiple muscles simultaneously. For e.g. The downward dog position stretches all muscles that lie on the posterior (back) side of the body. Such stretching is not only functional to the body, as in, whenever we bend down, all muscles lengthen together, the fascia (a tissue) over them also stretches. This is valuable to us because as we grow older, fascia loses its elasticity and can lead to stiffness and injuries. Compound stretches, as they are called, also save a great deal of time!
In conclusion, like time, the type of exercise you choose will have a big effect on the results you achieve. If you are looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness, then exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, stair climbing, and rowing are very effective. An effective and safe approach to stretching is to use the PNF method, also called contract-release. A certified trainer can administer the same for you.
To improve muscular strength, you should include the use of free weights and machine weights. Do add body weight exercises like chin-ups and dips. Stay away from machines that lend you back support. Instead, choose back strengthening standing exercises that you can do with dumbbells or barbells. Separate the wheat from the chaff!
Senior Faculty (Exercise Science)
K11 Academy of Fitness Sciences
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