If you’re new to exercise, congratulations on a smart choice that will enhance your health and fitness. Regular workouts are one of the best ways to improve quality of life, and it’s never too late to begin.
Even if you have fallen away after exercising previously, you can return at any time. Exercise delivers multiple benefits, including:
- Weight loss and/or management
- Decreased blood pressure
- Increased energy
- Lower body fat
- Greater strength and stamina
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
- Stronger bones
- Improved flexibility, stability and range of motion
- Better ability to manage stress
- Enhanced quality of sleep
And these are simply a few advantages. Scientific research is continually discovering more ways that exercise positively affects our lives. For the best results, incorporate a regular workout regimen into your lifestyle, so that it becomes a habit. Greater adherence means better fitness.
Regarding adherence, however, research shows that 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out within the first six months. That’s one-half! Here’s how to ensure that you’re not one of them:
- Schedule workouts – Schedule your weekly workouts, and block out this time. Determine when you will go to the health club and when you’ll exercise outdoors or at home.
- Set a goal – When you’re just starting a workout routine, this can be as simple as exercising 3 days each week, or you can aim to run a 5K in 3-6 months or lose 5 pounds in 2-3 months. Write down your goal and review it often.
- Add variety – Mix up workouts to stimulate your body and mind. Try new activities, incorporate cardio, strength and flexibility and vary your workout duration and intensity.
- Plan ahead – If you’re traveling, see if your hotel has a workout facility, or check the weather for outdoor workouts, and bring your gear.
- Have a back-up plan – If you get sick or must work late, schedule another workout on a different day. Don’t beat yourself up and quit – just keep going.
- Just do something – Short workouts are better than nothing at all. Walk on your lunch hour, or during your son’s soccer practice or do calisthenics while catching up on TV programs.
- Enlist support – Working out with a partner, hiring a trainer, taking a class or joining a club can keep you motivated.
- Reward yourself – Treat yourself to new workout shoes or apparel when you reach a milestone.
- Appreciate benefits – Focus on all the benefits that you get from exercise.
- Ditch the excuses – Everyone is busy. Make exercise a priority and do your best to fit it in regularly.
Balanced Workout Plans
The best exercise regimens include cardiovascular work to condition the heart and lungs, strength training to tone the muscles and boost metabolism and flexibility to maintain range of motion. If you’re just starting, you may choose just to do just cardio; but over time, it’s best to incorporate strength training with body weight, dumbbells or barbells, machines or resistance bands.
And try to stretch the major muscle groups at least a little bit after every workout. Depending on your goals, you should aim to exercise 3-5 times each week for 20-60 minutes as a beginner.
Many cardio options exist, such as jogging, cycling, swimming, stairclimbing, rowing and more. Choose your favorites, and if you can, vary workouts to challenge your body in different ways.
The elliptical machine is a excellent way to work both the upper body and lower body at the same time, and it’s low-impact, which is ideal for beginners. Total-body workouts use more muscle groups, burn more calories and can help provide better results, which motivates everyone. Plus, exercisers on ellipticals often don’t perceive how hard they are working, so they are more inclined to work longer and stick with their routine.
Today, several different types of ellipticals are available, including these varieties from Octane Fitness: traditional standing; recumbent xRide, which gets you working from a seated position; LateralX, enabling you to move side-to-side as well as front to back; and the new XT-One, which combines walking, jogging, hiking and climbing all in one machine. There is no “best” elliptical – try different ones and use those that you like the best. If you have access to different models at a health club, definitely try them all!
Choosing Elliptical Workouts
When it comes to elliptical workouts for beginners, many options exist. First, make sure you know how to properly use the machine – if you’re at a health club, ask a trainer to show you, and if you are at home, check the owner’s manual and work your way around the console.
Most ellipticals offer a variety of preprogrammed workouts, which essentially let you push a few buttons and get started. The easiest program for beginners is Manual, where you direct the workout duration and manually adjust the resistance level, stride length and/or incline at any time. This is a great way to get used to ellipticals.
But for best results, don’t just stay with Manual. Check out some other programs, such as Hill or Interval, for more variety. Typically, in these programs, which include a helpful preset warm-up and cooldown period, the machine automatically adjusts the resistance level throughout the session, incorporating more intense periods with recovery intervals. These options are ideal for pushing yourself a little more.
Another easy way to add intervals if you are using an Octane Fitness elliptical is with Workout Boosters, including X-Mode and ArmBlaster, which command you to squat, lean back, go in reverse and more for one-minute intervals every two minutes of your session.
Some ellipticals with adjustable stride length offer programs like PowerWalk and Dual Direction that capitalize on this variety, thereby changing the stride length periodically to deliver a different feel and challenge.
Interactive heart rate programs provide customized resistance levels based on your target heart rate range, which you can easily determine by putting your age into the console, through free online resources or with a personal trainer. With these regimens, such as Heart Rate Interval, the elliptical adjusts your resistance level to keep your heart rate in a specific range.
As you get more comfortable with the elliptical workouts, try a goal-based program, such as 10K or 350 calories, which keep you working until you achieve the target goal.
For more challenge, take on CROSS CiRCUIT®, exclusively on Octane Fitness ellipticals, which combines cardio intervals on the machine with strength-training exercises adjacent to the machine. You can pick the length of the intervals, and CROSS CiRCUIT offers hundreds of exercises to choose from, using body weight, Powerbands or dumbbells. This way, you benefit from a super-efficient session that encompasses both cardio and strength.
If you prefer even more direction and use Octane ellipticals, get the free SmartLink™ app, which serves as your virtual personal trainer. With this free app, downloaded to an iPad® or iPhone®, simply enter your workout preferences and choose among four goals: Lose Weight, Feel Better, Get Stronger and Athletic Performance. SmartLink creates a cardio workout plan customized to your needs for 30, 60 or 90 days. No need to plan – all you do is sweat!