Daily exercise has significant benefits, including reduced levels of body fat and stress, improved lean muscle definition, greater bone density and better overall health. However, it's important to vary the type of exercise you are doing every day, in order to avoid overtraining one part of the body or incurring injury. There are many different types of exercise, each of which will bring different benefits to the body.
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Your Monday workout should be an upper-body weights session in which you do three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of the following exercises: bench press, bent over row, shoulder press, lying dumbbell flies and overhead tricep press. Pick a heavy weight that you can lift with proper form. Don't worry about "getting bulky" -- lifting heavy weights is going to help you burn fat and get better muscle definition, but most women simply don't have the genetics and hormones to put on a lot of size.
Tuesday should be a lower-body weights session. Aim to do three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of the following exercises: deadlifts, squats, calf raises, leg press and single leg squats. Choose weights that will allow you to do eight repetitions but no more than 12. Once you've worked with this weight selection for a month or two, you can increase the weight and start working in the six- to eight-repetition range.
Walking is a simple form of exercise that can lower stress, improve circulation, help reduce body fat and improve mental clarity. Walk for 30 to 60 minutes, preferably in a calm and beautiful environment, such as a park or forest. This will help your body recover more quickly from your weight lifting workouts relieve any delayed onset muscle soreness you might experience. You should also do some stretching and mobility work today to improve your flexibility and range of motion.
Thursday should be your second upper-body workout for the week. Do three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of exercises including pullups (or assisted pullups), tricep dips, cable curls, forward raise and bent-over dumbbell flies. Choose weights that will allow you to do at least eight repetitions, but not more than 12. As with the lower-body workouts, you can increase this to a six- to eight-repetition range as you become stronger and more confident in the movements.
Friday's workout is your second lower-body session for the week. Include three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of the following: squats, deadlifts, lunges, leg curls and leg extensions. If you are feeling sore and stiff afterward, you can work it out by walking at a gentle pace on a treadmill for 10 to 15 minutes. This will help reduce the stiffness and allow your muscles and nerves to relax.
Sprinting is a highly effective -- and highly demanding -- form of exercise. On Saturday morning, head to your local park or track to do a short sprint workout. Sprinting is a form of interval training, which calls for short periods of very intense work, followed by short periods of rest. Warm up first with a few minutes of light jogging, then sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat. Do this eight times, then talk a leisurely walk for 10 to 20 minutes to cool down and relax.
Sunday should be a full day of rest. Don't do any structured exercise; just allow your body to recover. If you end up getting incidental exercise as part of another activity, that's fine -- enjoy it. Just don't feel that you need to make it into a workout. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and take care of your body today.