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Exercise For All Levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced

Exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do for your health, but it can be hard to know where to start.

There’s a lot of information out there and it can be overloading. When equipped with the right knowledge, exercise can be a regular part of your daily routine.

Benefits of Exercise 

Exercising regularly will have immediate and, lead to, long term health benefits. These health benefits include: 

  • Improved brain and heart health 
  • Reduced risk of disease and other health complications 
  • Strengthened muscles, bones and joints 
  • Improved mental health 
  • Improved metabolism and weight management

How much Exercise? 

The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines recommended that you are active on most, preferably all, days of the week – working towards: 

  • 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or, 
  • 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week plus, 
  • At least 2 days of resistance training a week (1). 

Moderate intensity – while exercising, if your breathing rate and heart rate have increased but can still hold a conversation with someone next to you. Examples of moderate intensity aerobic exercise: 

  • Walking briskly 
  • Actively playing with children 
  • Cycling around the block 
  • Walking laps in the pool 

Vigorous intensity – while exercising, if you’re breathing very heavily, your heart rate has increased considerably and you’re finding it hard to hold a conversation. Examples of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise: 

  • Running 
  • Swimming laps 
  • Jump rope 
  • Rowing 
  • Most competitive sports

Sets and Reps 

Sets and reps are very common in exercise programs as they are the basic measure, apart from time, used to calculate how much exercise you have done. A rep, or repetition, is the movement and a set is a group of reps. For example, 3 sets x 10 reps of squats. This means you will do 10 squats, have a break, and repeat three times. There are recommended reps, sets and rest depending on your goal. 

  • Strength – 6 reps or less, 2 to 6 sets, 2 to 5 minutes rest 
  • Hypertrophy – 6 to 12 reps, 2 to 6 sets, 30 to 90 seconds rest 
  • Endurance – 12 or more reps, 2 to 3 sets, 30 seconds or less rest 
  • Power – 1 to 5 reps, 3 to 5 sets, 2 to 5 minutes rest (2) 

For most people, the recommendation for strength training is 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps. Most exercise programs will aim right for the middle with 3 sets of 10 reps.

Types of Exercise 

  • Aerobic – also known as cardiovascular exercise or “cardio”, involves large muscles groups for an extended period. Aerobic exercise targets the heart and lungs. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming. 
  • Resistance – also known as strength exercise, involves your muscles working against resistance. This can be as simple as moving from sitting to standing, squatting, doing a push-up, or a bicep curl. Resistance exercise is the main type of exercise that builds muscle and increases muscle mass. Examples of resistance include you own body weight, machine weights, dumbbells, resistance bands or bottles of water. 
  • Flexibility – also known as stretching or mobility exercise, helps with muscle recovery, maintaining range of motion and injury prevention. Examples of flexibility exercise include static stretching, dynamic stretching, and yoga. 
  • Balance – also known as stability exercise, involves strengthening muscles to help with improving body coordination and proprioception. This is important with age as balance exercise will help prevent falls. Examples of balance exercise include heel-toe walking, tai chi, and single leg activities.  

Exercise Physiologist 

Exercise physiologists (EP) are university qualified allied health professionals that specialise in designing and delivering safe and effective exercise interventions. EP’S domains include cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological, musculoskeletal, cancers, kidney, respiratory and mental health (5). An EP can design an individualised exercise program to assist with whatever goal you have in mind. 

During the initial assessment the patient’s goals will be discussed and initial measurements will be taken. The initial measurements will include anthropometric measures such as weight, height and waist circumference and some basic physical assessments. 

After the initial assessment is finished an exercise program will be tailored to the patient’s goals and needs. It doesn’t matter what level the patient is at, beginner, intermediate or advanced, an EP can help with all exercise goals. 

A monthly follow up is recommended with the EP to discuss the patient’s progress and if there have been any barriers to overcome. The initial measures will be taken again to monitor the patient’s progress. The exercise program will be adjusted depending on the patient’s needs and improvements. 

1-Week Exercise Program Example 

There is not “one size fits all” approach when it comes to designing an exercise program. Everyone is going to have different needs and goals. Below are some examples of some basic 1-week exercise programs for people at different levels of exercise. These can be adjusted as you need. 

Beginner Body Weight – Full body 

  • Monday – 10-minute walk. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: sit to stands, wall push-ups, step ups, arm raises. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Tuesday – 30-minute walk. 
  • Wednesday – 10-minute walk. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: sit to stands, wall push-ups, step ups, arm raises. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Thursday – 30-minute walk. 
  • Friday – 10-minute walk. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: sit to stands, wall push-ups, step ups, arm raises. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Saturday – 30-minute walk. 
  • Sunday – rest. 

Intermediate Body Weight – Full Body 

  • Monday – 10-minute brisk walk. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: squats, incline push-ups, split squat, scapula retraction. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Tuesday – 30-minute brisk walk. 
  • Wednesday – 10-minute brisk walk. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: squats, incline push-ups, split squat, scapula retraction. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Thursday – 30-minute brisk walk. 
  • Friday – 10-minute brisk walk. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: squats, incline push-ups, split squat, scapula retraction. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Saturday – 30-minute brisk walk. 
  • Sunday – rest. 

Advanced Body Weight – Full Body 

  • Monday – 10-minute jog. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: jump squats, floor push-ups, walking lunges, reverse pull-up/inverted row. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Tuesday – 30-minute jog. 
  • Wednesday – 10-minute jog. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: jump squats, floor push-ups, walking lunges, reverse pull-up/inverted row. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Thursday – 30-minute jog. 
  • Friday – 10-minute jog. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: jump squats, floor push-ups, walking lunges, reverse pull-up/inverted row. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Saturday – 30-minute jog. 
  • Sunday – rest. 

Beginner Gym Program – Split 

  • Monday – 10-minute walk on treadmill. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: dumbbell bench press, dumbbell chest fly, chest press machine, dumbbell front raise. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Tuesday – 30-minute walk on treadmill, or cycle, or row, or combination of all. 
  • Wednesday – 10-minute cycle. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: dumbbell goblet squats, dumbbell step up, leg extension machine, standing calf raise machine. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Thursday – 30-minute walk on treadmill, or cycle, or row, or combination of all. 
  • Friday – 10-minute walk on treadmill. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: dumbbell deadlift, lat pull down machine, seated leg curl machine, dumbbell bent over row. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Saturday – 30-minute walk on treadmill, or cycle, or row, or combination of all. 
  • Sunday – rest. 

Intermediate Gym Program – Split  

  • Monday – 5-minute row. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: barbell bench press, cable chest fly, shoulder press machine, dumbbell lateral raise. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Tuesday – 30-minute walk on treadmill, or cycle, or row, or combination of all. 
  • Wednesday – 10-minute cycle. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: barbell back squat, dumbbell lunge, leg press machine, seated calf raise machine. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Thursday – 30-minute walk on treadmill, or cycle, or row, or combination of all. 
  • Friday – 5-minute row. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: barbell deadlift, assisted pull-up, kettlebell swing, seated row machine. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Saturday – 30-minute walk on treadmill, or cycle, or row, or combination of all. 
  • Sunday – rest. 

Advanced Gym Program – Split  

  • Monday – 5-minute row. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: dumbbell bench press, barbell incline bench press, cable chest ply, dumbbell shoulder press, triceps kickback. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Tuesday – 5-minute row. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: barbell back squat, dumbbell Bulgarian split squat, hack squat machine, single leg extension machine, seated calf raise machine. Stretch afterwards.  
  • Wednesday – 30-minute walk on treadmill, or cycle, or row, or combination of all. 
  • Thursday – 5-minute row. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: chin-ups, barbell bent over row, lat pull down machine, dumbbell single arm row, barbell preacher curls. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Friday – 5-minute row. 3 sets x 10 reps of the following: barbell deadlift, hip thrust machine, dumbbell single leg deadlift, kettlebell swing, seated leg curl machine. Stretch afterwards. 
  • Saturday – 30-minute walk on treadmill, or cycle, or row, or combination of all. 
  • Sunday – rest. 

These are some examples of exercise programs for varying experience levels. No matter what level you are at, there are plenty of exercises that you can do. Remember, everyone is different so these will work for some and won’t work for others.

What next? 

To wrap it up, exercise is something that can be done every day to benefit your health. There are many different types of exercise, don’t be scared to try something new. It’s never too late to start exercising. If you need any further assistance on starting your exercise journey and designing a program that is unique to you, contact an Exercise Physiologist at Health Hub Springfield. 

References 

  1. https://www.health.gov.au/topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians 
  1. https://www.nsca.com/contentassets/116c55d64e1343d2b264e05aaf158a91/basics_of_strength_and_conditioning_manual.pdf 

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