Healthy Living Part II: Cardiovascular Exercise And Weight Training

What does it mean to exercise and weight train?

Exercise is simply any activity that forces your body to exert a physical effort. It comes in many forms: walking, running, swimming, bicycle riding, playing sports, weight training and even gardening! By moving your body and performing physically taxing tasks, you help improve the circulation of your blood and other critical bodily fluids, including those in your joints and spine. 

Weight training is a form of exercise that allows one to focus on specific muscle groups and is the most effective method of building strength and muscle. What makes weight training more versatile than other forms of exercise is the ability to precisely control the amount of resistance a workout provides by using graduated masses, typically utilizing barbells, dumbbells and apparatuses like Nautilus machines. 

Why should I exercise and weight train?

The answer is very simple: your body needs to move. Regular exercise is of paramount importance when it comes to maintaining a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. When you are inactive and remain stationary for long periods of time, your heart has a hard time circulating your blood, as well as appropriately refreshing and distributing other vital fluids. This in turn negatively affects your overall physiology and will inevitably lead to significant health problems. By exercising, you’re not only getting your fluids flowing, but you’re also working and strengthening your heart and vascular system—minimizing or even eliminating the potential for many harmful diseases. 

Weight training takes it all to the next level. It works both the cardiac and the skeletal muscles, building strength that makes many everyday activities more effortless and enjoyable. When you strengthen your body, you not only look good, but you feel good as well. One of the best feelings in the world is being able to accomplish physical tasks seamlessly and feeling completely in control. 

What are some of the basics in a proper weight training program?

If you’re going to weight train correctly, your best bet is to either find an avid workout partner who will push you to your limits or a good personal trainer. You also want to establish reasonable goals and expectations, such as weight-loss, strength and/or endurance goals, and make sure you stay focused on that finish line. Most importantly, as mentioned in Part I of this series, a healthy diet—preferably whole-food, plant-based—is a critical component of a successful weight training program.  

How should I exercise and weight train to get the most out of my efforts?

Depending on what your schedule allows, you have some options. Cardiovascular exercise like running and swimming can and should be done as much as your time and body permits. As for weight training, your regular daily and weekly routine will more strongly dictate your program. Ideally, if you can only work out three times a week, you should be doing full-body weight training on those days; if you work out four times a week, you want to alternate full upper body with full lower body; if you can manage to work out five days or more a week, that gives you the luxury of focusing on specific muscle groups. 

Regardless of the frequency of your weight trainings, it is important to vary your workouts. The three basic varieties of training are: high-repetition burnout with lighter weights, high weight with fewer repetitions, and a moderate workout of eight to twelve repetitions with moderate resistance. If you rotate these approaches throughout your weight training regimen, you will maximize your outcome because these changes in weight and repetition will shock your muscles. In doing so, your body is forced to adjust by adding new tissue to strengthen where the muscle was shocked, which in turn adds both strength and mass to your frame.     

Key things you should not forget:

In parting, there are two final important concepts. The first is that in order to truly build brawn and bulk, you must push your muscles to the point of failure. You can still be fit and healthy without doing so, but you will not see results in regards to a significant increase in strength and size. So if you’re looking to fortify and sculpt your physique, pushing yourself to the limits is a must. 

Lastly, and very importantly, is to make sure that you do not neglect your core workouts. The core muscles are responsible for maintaining and stabilizing our bodies, so they are crucial to health and fitness. Exercises like planks, sit-ups and crunches will ensure that abdominal and other critical muscle groups are strong and resilient, providing a solid foundation for your strength and health. By following these instructions and adhering to a whole-food, plant-based diet you are guaranteed to see results in your vigor, vitality and physique.