Want to build your athletic prowess? The right workouts can enhance your lasting power in sports and everyday activities, as well as make your muscles stronger. And you have much more to gain than just athleticism; exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, fights depression and boosts your self-confidence. Working out can even extend your lifespan, helping to prevent chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and even cancer.
Pump those muscles with three days a week of strength training, working all major muscle groups. Give each body part at least a day of recovery to avoid overuse. For legs and buttocks, do squats and deadlfts. Perform rows to work your back, and V-ups and crunches for your tummy. Do biceps curls and triceps extensions for your arms, and assisted pushups against a desk for your chest. Perform two sets of 12 reps for each exercise.
When it comes to increasing endurance, aerobic exercise reigns. Which type should you choose? That depends on your current fitness level. If you don't work out at all, try walking at a brisk pace or dancing around your living room. Relatively fit? Add short running intervals into your walks, swim laps or play doubles tennis. If you are fit as a fiddle, go running or play singles tennis. Whichever activity you choose, do aerobic exercises three to five days a week and strive for at least 150 minutes a week total.
The line between endurance and strength training is not drawn in stone. It is possible to get a cardio workout and build muscle at the same time. In fact, many aerobic exercises tone muscles to some degree. Try running up and down stairs, building endurance while working your glutes and legs. As you advance, carry hand weights for greater resistance. Biking uphill also builds strength and endurance, as does using a rowing machine for at least 10 minutes.
As awesomely healthy as exercise is, you can hurt yourself if you are not careful. Always take time to learn the proper technique for each activity. Warm up and cool down before every workout, and mix up your activities to prevent overuse, which leads to sore muscles and even stress fractures. Don't rush into an intense routine; start at a comfortable level and work your way up to longer stints and greater resistance. Stay hydrated, and lower the intensity in hot temperatures.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.