GENERAL EXERCISE GUIDELINES
Congratulations on taking this step to educate yourself more about the fundamentals of fitness! In today’s world, there are many myths and lies perpetuated in the fitness industry. It’s difficult to decipher the truth through it all. Let us help! UCLA Recreation’s FITWELL Team is comprised of Certified Personal Fitness Trainers (PFT), Certified Group Exercise Leaders (GEL), and Strength & Conditioning Consultants (SCC). For specific exercise questions and individualized programming needs, consult one of our PFT’s. For general exercise information, consult a GEL. SCC’s are available in all of the Strength and Conditioning Zones to assist with exercise and machine set up. We’re here to help you!
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
In general, you should have a doctor’s consent to participate in any exercise program. If you plan on starting a moderate intensity exercise program, however, the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire will help you to know whether a doctor’s consent is mandatory. Created by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, this questionnaire is helpful in determining your health risks in exercise.
AFTER CLEARANCE/GETTING STARTED
1. Start slowly! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t become fit over night. If you do too much too soon and don’t ease into the routine by gradually increasing your intensity, frequency, and duration, you will most likely fail. Additionally, you will miss the process of becoming fit. Worse yet, an injury may prevent you from continuing to exercise at all. Also, if you used to exercise and just took a break for awhile, do not pick up where you left off! This almost always turns into an injury. Again, start slowly. Make gradual increases and you will see the results over time!
2. Set realistic goals! Examine your lifestyle and what is important to you. Set yourself up for success by honestly assessing how much time you can commit to an exercise program. You do not need to set aside hours upon hours. Make sure that you are exercising for the right reasons. The FITWELL Team strongly believes that appearance centered goals are less likely to be achieved and sustained than lifestyle goals or performance goals. In addition, movement and exercise should be appreciated and enjoyed. It should not be torture.
Classically, there are 4 components of Fitness: Cardiovascular Fitness, Muscular Strength and Endurance, Flexibility, and Body Composition.
1. Cardiovascular Fitness: “Cardio” refers to the heart and “vascular” refers to the blood vessels; so, Cardiovascular Fitness refers to the health of your heart and blood vessels. This is important because the heart and blood vessels transport blood to the vital organs and working muscles. Blood contains oxygen, and we need oxygen to stay alive! Thus, cardiovascular fitness is important!
The heart is a muscle, and with exercise it becomes stronger just like any other muscle. A weak or unfit heart has to beat many times in order to propel enough blood to the working tissues. It generally beats rapidly. Unfit hearts have high resting heart rates, recovery heart rates, and exercise heart rates. The heart has to work over time to supply the blood and oxygen that your body needs. A fit heart, on the other hand, is more efficient. With each beat, it is able to propel more blood; thus, it doesn’t have to beat as often or as rapidly. It is more efficient. That means that a fit heart has a lower resting heart rate, a lower recovery heart rate, and a lower exercise heart rate. A fit heart helps to prevent heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, hypercholesterolemia, and many other debilitating diseases.
Cardiovascular exercise is not only vital for heart health, but it is also helpful for athletic performance and an increased quality of life. Daily tasks become easier when you are fit. Lastly, cardiovascular exercise burns calories and helps to maintain a healthy body composition. For more information on cardiovascular fitness, weight loss etc., go to www.snac.ucla.edu .
2. Muscular Strength and Endurance: Muscular strength refers to how much can be lifted and muscular endurance refers to how many times a particular resistance level can be lifted. Both are important. Improvements in muscular strength or endurance are induced by the principle of overload. The key term is “overload.” Without sufficient overload, there is not a sufficient response. Weights can provide this overload, but the overload could very well be one’s own body weight or other non-traditional forms of resistance such as medicine balls, resistance tubes, and even water. Sufficient overload varies with one’s own personal fitness level. Sufficient overload or stimulus must be considered when designing a strength training routine.
Muscular strength and endurance are important for a number of fantastic reasons! Most importantly in my opinion, strength training improves self-confidence. Training with weights makes every day tasks easier and makes one more self-sufficient. Confidence grows by being able to manipulate one’s own body weight. Knowing that you could climb a fence, pull yourself onto a boat that had tipped over, or move something that had fallen on you or in your way breeds a confidence that is unmistakable. By not having to rely on other’s to do tasks for you, the playing field becomes a bit more level. Dependence turns into cooperation because you are working from a place of equality and not a place of subordination. Strength training fosters self-reliance. Secondly, strength training prevents several debilitating diseases or conditions: osteoporosis and those conditions associated with a sedentary lifestyle (hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke, diabetes, etc.) Lastly, strength raining builds muscle and muscle helps to maintain a healthy body composition or ratio of lean body mass to adipose tissue. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue. Adipose tissue is not. Because muscle requires energy to move and even just to be, having more muscle boosts metabolism. Everything you do (even sitting and sleeping) requires more energy or caloric expenditure. This helps to maintain a healthy body composition and in turn helps to prevent many diseases associated with excess body fat and a sedentary lifestyle.
3. Flexibility: Flexibility is defined as the range of motion around a joint. Joint structure, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and muscle all play into the flexibility of a joint. Muscle has elastic properties, but tendons have a more plastic property. Effective stretches are held for 30 seconds or more and can alter the plastic properties of tendons. This provides lasting changes in the range of motion around a joint.
Flexibility is important for many reasons. To prevent injuries, a normal range of motion around a joint must be maintained. If a joint has a limited range of motion due to the tightness of the tendons or muscles or to some other factor, and you go to perform some motion that requires a normal range of motion, an injury is likely. Also, if you are constantly moving from a place of limited range of motion, overuse type of injuries are likely. Flexibility is considered the key to youth; so, work to maintain it throughout your life.
4. Body Composition: Body Composition is defined as the ratio of lean body mass (bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, organs) to adipose tissue (or fat mass). It is considered a component of physical fitness because an unhealthful body composition is a risk factor for many deadly and dreadful diseases.
A body composition over 35% for women and over 30% for men is considered to be “at risk.” Body composition, however, is not a true indicator of fitness. Linked closely to genetics, one could have a higher body composition and still be relatively fit. The converse is also true. To alter one’s body composition, a nutritious diet and a balanced exercise regimen of cardiovascular activity and strength training must be employed.
EXERCISE RECOMMENDATIONS: The FITT FACTORS
When designing your exercise routine, pay attention to these four FITT Factors: Frequency, Intensity, Time (Duration), and Type (Mode). Frequency is described as the number of times per week you engage in that activity. Intensity refers to the difficulty or resistance level of the activity. Time (Duration) reflects the length of the activity. Lastly, Type (Mode) refers to the activity type. The American College of Sports Medicine ACSM recommends the following FITT factors for the different components of fitness.
Cardiovascular Recommendations: F: 3-5 bouts per week I: On a scale of 0-10, cardiovascular benefits are yielded when working between a 3 and 7. (0=sleeping and 10=running as fast as you possibly can) T: 20-60 minutes T: Continuous activities that involve large muscle groups and can be sustained for the recommended time. Examples: walking, running, swimming, biking, fitness classes, etc. Again, if you are just starting out, take it easy. You don’t have to exercise for 20 minutes or for 3 times a week. Gradually work your way up to these recommendations. You can do it!
Muscular Strength and Endurance Recommendations : Recommendations for muscular strength and endurance are a little more complicated and depend entirely on one’s goals. For the best results, consult one of our certified Personal Fitness Trainers. (link to PFT). In general and to achieve health benefits, consider the following recommendations. F: 1-2 times per week, balanced full body routine I: For Strength: 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions, For Endurance: 1-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions T: Rest until you have recovered from that set (approx. 30seconds-2minutes) T: Enjoy a balanced routine and use a variety of machines, free weights, exercise tubes, and your own body weight. Be sure to hit all the major muscle groups: Chest, Upper Back, Abs, Low Back, Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps, Quadriceps, Gluteals, Hamstrings, Tibialis Anterior, and Gastrocnemius. Beginners should always build endurance first. Start slowly. One set is fine but choose a resistance level that overloads your system by the end of the set. You can do it!
Flexibility Recommendations : F: 2-3 concentrated sessions per week and after each workout I: To the point of tension but never to pain T: Work up to holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds and up to 2 minutes T: You can stretch on your own but be sure to hit all the major muscle groups. Try yoga as well! Reminder: Never stretch a cold muscle. Always warm up before you stretch. The best time to stretch is after a workout when your muscles are really warm.