Summer Fitness Essentials: Cardio and Strength Training Tips

By Juan Dimate, ACSM-CEP

Whether you’re a young High School or college student looking to stay in shape over the summer, a young professional balancing a hectic schedule, or an older adult looking to stay active, understanding the basics of cardiovascular and resistance exercise is crucial. These exercises are key to a healthier heart, stronger muscles, and overall well-being. Let’s dive into some informative and fun tips to complement your summer fitness plans!

Understanding the basics
Cardiovascular exercise, often referred to as cardio, involves activities that increase your heart rate and improve the function of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Examples include walking, running, swimming, and cycling. Cardio is essential for maintaining heart health, boosting stamina, and enhancing overall fitness.

Resistance Exercise
Resistance exercise, also known as strength training, involves activities that make your muscles work against a force or weight. This type of exercise helps build and maintain muscle mass, improve bone density, and increase metabolic rate. Examples include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups and bodyweight squats.

Heart Rate Max
Your heart rate max (HRmax) is the highest number of beats per minute (bpm) your heart can reach during maximum physical exertion. A simple way to estimate your HRmax is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 30 years old, your estimated HRmax is 190 bpm. Knowing your HRmax helps you determine the intensity of your workouts.

Training Structure
With this information in mind, now we can dive in and see ways to easily plan your workouts for your week. An effective resistance workout encompasses several key components to ensure safety and maximize benefits.

  • Start with a warm-up that includes 5-10 minutes of light cardio, such as brisk walking or cycling, to increase blood flow and prepare your muscles for exercise.
  • Follow this with activation and balance exercises like leg swings, glute bridges, and single-leg stands to engage your core and improve stability.
  • The strength portion should consist of compound movements targeting major muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, push-ups, and rows, performed in sets of 8-12 repetitions.
  • Finish with a cool-down and stretching routine, focusing on static stretches for all major muscle groups to enhance flexibility, mobility and aid recovery.

To complement your resistance training, incorporate cardiovascular exercise at least 3-4 times a week. This can include activities like running, swimming, or cycling for 30-60 minutes, ensuring a well-rounded fitness program that supports heart health and endurance. The general recommendation for cardiovascular exercise according to the American College of Sports Medicine is a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week (moderate intensity is the equivalent of 65-75% of your HRmax).

Fueling Your Body
Proper nutrition is the fuel that powers your workouts and aids in recovery. Make sure to fuel up with a balanced diet rich in lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Hydration is also key – drink water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated and optimize performance. Consider consulting a registered dietitian for personalized nutrition advice tailored to your fitness goals.

With these simple yet effective tips, you can take your workouts to the next level and make exercise a rewarding and enjoyable part of your lifestyle. Whether you’re aiming to build strength, improve endurance, or simply feel better in your own skin, incorporating these strategies will help you achieve your goals while staying motivated and engaged. Remember, fitness is a journey, not a destination – so embrace the process, stay consistent, and celebrate your progress along the way!