Lifestyle Health

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Karl Henry: Tailor workout plans to suit yourself

Woman stretching
Woman stretching

Karl Henry

Karl Henry answers your fitness questions

Q. I'm just enquiring about an exercise programme. I'm a 35-year-old woman with an over-active thyroid. I train five times a week and do a variety of classes including spinning, kettle bells, weight training etc. I have been told to stop all heavy training. Can you give me any information on a workout plan please?


Karl says: I am not a fan of heavy training myself but I am intrigued to see why you were recommended to stop. However, it sounds like you have been training super hard and possibly overtraining. I thought that I would show you how to build your own programme to ensure that you aren't working too hard.

Specific: Are you building a programme that is actually for you or are you using one that your friend gave you?

Remember everyone is different and has different needs, so your programme should reflect this.

If you have injuries or weaknesses in certain areas then your programme should reflect this, maybe you need to strengthen your upper body more than your lower body? Or is your weakness your flexibility?

Make a simple list of your strengths and weaknesses and then make a note of what you are aiming to get out of the programme, these will act as your base and criteria for creating it, now work from there and you should get a real programme that will work for you.

Measured: Many people often neglect this part, measuring your success and progress. You are building a programme for a reason, to get results.

At the very start, measure your set criteria. These can be weight, inch loss, body fat, muscle or your metabolic age. The more complicated it gets the greater the chance you will need expert help.

Many cheaper alternatives such as scales and hand-held devices that measure body fat are useless and inaccurate. Most professionals use expensive equipment to measure these things using scales etc that cost from e4,000 to e5,000. Unfortunately I have yet to see an accurate scales for under e500 that will measure more than weight.

Body fat calipers will be the best option for those looking to measure body fat cheaply and accurately.

Realistic: Are you building a programme for an Olympic athlete or for yourself? I often fall into this trap myself, building amazing sessions that would work great if I were a fulltime athlete and not working so that I had the time to recover.

You need to ensure that the programme you build can fit into your daily schedule, your life and your sports. If it doesn't then the chances are it won't last long-term and you will give up after a few weeks or so.

Timed: Set a time limit on this plan and aim to change every four to six weeks or so. Change in your workouts will result in change in your body.

Your body adapts to the environment that it finds itself in, so by constantly changing it you will get the best results possible.

This will also force you to change your programme a lot, furthering your knowledge in the exercises that you are putting together.

Warm up/ Cool Down: No matter what exercises you are using, ensure that you have scheduled in plenty of time to warm up at the start and cool down at the end.

Generally I use a 10-minute warm up and a five-minute cool down with my clients – this allows the muscles to warm up safely and cool down nicely, letting the blood vessels contract slowly.

The whole purpose of a warm up and cool down is to avoid injury, keeping you away from the physio and keeping you healthy for longer.

Rest: You certainly don't want to overtrain, by pushing yourself too hard. The easiest way to ensure this is that you put your feet up at least one day per week and stay away from exercising.

This day will let the muscles repair themselves and let your mind recover, keeping you fresh for the following week's workout.

If you keep these principles you will ensure that you are building a programme that will get you the results that you want. Ensure each programme has a combination of cardiovascular, resistance and stretching work.

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