We asked John Rowley, health and fitness expert, and author of The Power of Positive Fitness, for his insight into the some popular workouts to find out which ones are right for you.
Mud runs have been gaining popularity over the past few years, and people can’t seem to get enough of these challenging obstacle course races. "These are not for the faint of heart but they offer a great source of fitness activities, especially for those who want an extra challenge and are willing to push themselves," says Rowley. At any point, along with likely being covered in mud, you might find yourself scaling an 8-foot wall or climbing a cargo net. "Mud runs can be beneficial for people to push themselves to their fullest and who are very competitive. Perfect for anyone who is looking for a military-style workout, mud runs are also a fun and competitive way to burn calories," he explains.
The caveat: So you think you want to sign up for a mud run? You’ll need to assess your fitness level, warns Rowley. "Those who are not in great physical shape may not be the best candidates for mud runs because strength and stamina play a big role in completing."
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) involves doing a short burst of exercise followed by a time of active rest (moving during your rest period). This ultra-popular workout is great for people with busy schedules since they pack a lot of calorie burn into a short amount of time. Rowley notes that you can also use the technique to tone. "Many look at this as a cardio-only route to fitness, but you can do this while doing your resistance training by simply taking very short rests between sets," he explains. "This is a fabulous way to exercise if done properly."
The caveat: Be careful. Rowley explains that some of the more aggressive movements associated with HIIT, like sprinting, can cause joint pain. "The key is finding exercises that won't hurt your joints while building muscle and shedding fat."
Fitness dance classes such as Zumba are part of a popular fitness trend that continues to draw fans. "Zumba is perfect for just about anyone at any age. It provides a cardiovascular workout in a fun and sociable environment, which to many will be the key to sticking to an exercise program," Rowley says. Although many people think that Zumba is only for women, he says that the guys can jump in as well.
The caveat: The downfall to fitness dance classes for some can be learning the quick movements. And if you aren’t doing all of the moves properly, you might not be getting the best workout.
Another relatively new way to work out that seems to be on everyone’s must-try list is battle ropes, those thick, heavy ropes you may have spied at your gym. "A fun and maybe unconventional way to tone your body, battle ropes can add that variety missing in your workout," says Rowley. "Battle ropes are great because there are a lot of different ways to use them and offer many exercises that can tone your entire body," he explains. They can also be used at any age, and the exercises can be altered based on your fitness level.
The caveat: Since the ropes are so large, space may be an issue because this isn’t a grab-and-go exercise; you need to block of space to use them, says Rowley. So if your gym doesn't have them, you might be out of luck.
"TRX is a suspension trainer program that uses the weight of your body to perform a variety of exercises," says Rowley. These exercises develop core stability, balance and strength all at the same time. "TRX is a great workout because it tones your entire body, and you can control your own challenge levels based on your fitness level," he explains. If you’ve ever marveled at a gymnast’s physique, Rowley says that in essence they do a form of suspension training.
The caveat: Don’t expect to catch on right away. Rowley notes that TRX can be difficult for first-timers and it may take a few tries before you’re able to do it and have it be beneficial.
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