This time of year, people are actively looking for ways to improve their health and wellness -- and that includes mental focus as well as physical fitness. Anyone can go to the gym and pop on a treadmill for an hour every few days, but do you have the gumption to get into amazing shape with a structured training program? Here are a few of the top programs, and the benefits you can expect to gain from making that commitment.
CrossFit is growing in popularity, with gyms popping up across the country (and around the world!) with communities of avid CrossFitters. This training program has a little something for everyone, from plyometric jumping to kettlebells and explosive bodyweight movements. Strength, agility, flexibility and some serious caloric burns are the hallmarks of this hardcore training program. Considered HIPT (high-intensity power training), CrossFit offers some aerobic benefits but is most well-known for strength-building and refinement.
Pros: Strong community, exciting atmosphere, competitive environment, fast-paced moves
Cons: Challenging to personalize to meet specific goals or to reduce impact after an injury
Best Suited For: Burning calories, losing weight and improving physical strength
While calisthenics has many of the same benefits of CrossFit training, you are focused on leveraging your body weight and the exercise program is more likely to be personal than community-based. Calisthenics is a program that can be applied based on your current level of flexibility and endurance with exercises that can be completed anywhere you can find the space. Calisthenics is known to build endurance as well as muscles, making it highly beneficial for individuals of all ages and ability levels.
Pros: Inexpensive, you can train anywhere, be creative, works multiple muscle groups at once
Cons: Limitations in leg training, difficulty targeting specific muscle groups
Best Suited For: Improving strength, agility, flexibility and aerobic conditioning
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High-intensity interval training (aka HIIT) includes fast, intense bursts of energy followed by recovery periods that are still meant to keep your body actively moving. You'll be burning crazy amounts of calories and fat and is extremely heart-healthy due to the cardio intensity levels that you will sustain and grow over time. Many HIIT enthusiasts also find that it can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce blood pressure challenges, too.
Pros: Time-efficient, increases your metabolism and can be done anywhere
Cons: Might cause dizziness, higher risk of injury and could leave muscles extremely sore
Best Suited For: Lowering body fat, raising heart rate and lowering blood sugar
While it might have a bit of history as a "bro workout", hypertrophy provides excellent strength and power gains as well as aerobic endurance. Programs are designed to meet you at your current level and continue to push your body past peaks and also requires attention to nutrition as well as adding muscle with weights. Hypertrophy is often utilized by bodybuilders and individuals looking for muscle definition and adding muscle mass.
Pros: Avoids muscle imbalances, increased calorie burn
Cons: Requires more sets and reps than traditional strength training, may overtax muscles
Best Suited For: Fitness athletes and muscle building
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