What’s inside this article: An overview of some of the most popular workout programs, including their benefits, so you can choose a workout program that helps you meet your personal goals whether that be weight loss, muscle growth, mental wellness, flexibility, etc.
Rain or shine, cold or heat, early morning or well after sundown—there’s always time to get a workout in. Well, easier said than done, right? Some days it just feels like there’s something more pressing to do, instead.
A workout might be the afterthought, the thing to fit in if you have time.
And that’s the reason I’ve heard the most—in all my years coaching group HIIT classes and personal training—for missing out on a workout.
‘I just don’t have the time.’
To a degree, it can be true. I don’t see it as an excuse outright. It’s not.
It’s hard to find time for a workout on any given day. You probably do have a million other things to do. The entire process can become time-consuming. If you need to drive to the gym, get ready, workout, shower after, take a pre-workout drink for energy, make sure you’ve eaten enough beforehand. Before you know it, a couple of hours of your day are gone.
The truth is, there’s no easy solution. Time management can be challenging.
Some days are better than others. Some days you wake up ready to knock out a workout, and doing so makes you feel refreshed for the rest of the day.
Other days it’s a slog, a chore to get through, and you don’t even feel that much better afterward.
But, regardless of how you feel, maintaining your health and wellness isn’t all about the day-to-day victories or defeats—it’s about the continued effort, the path forward, the bigger picture.
An off day won’t break every bad habit, and it won’t ruin every good one. The most important thing to remember is to show up, to take on the challenge of your workout, and to invest in yourself.
With that said, the only real advice I can give you is to find the workout that works best for you.
Different types of exercise can help you achieve specific goals. What is it that you want for your health, body, and overall fitness?
Finding the right workout for you, regardless of what other people swear by, is the easiest solution to motivate yourself to get it done. When you enjoy what you’re doing, and the results are congruent with your goals, it’s easier to knock it out.
You should enjoy that sweat and burn even when you don’t—and to move on with your day, knowing you’ve accomplished something.
However, with a plethora of options out there—covering all the four main fitness elements of strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility.
Which Workout Program is Best for You?
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)
- Short Workouts
- Group Classes or Solo Options
- Strength, Endurance
I will admit a bias, as this workout program is my bread and butter.
With that said, if speed is of the essence for you, HIIT could be the way to go.
With workouts that range from 15 minutes to 45—knocking out a HIIT workout will have you burn a lot of calories in a very condensed amount of time.
The key to a HIIT workout comes from the timer.
Rather than rep counts, just like Tabata, it often focuses on an allotted amount of time to work out and rest: intervals. For example, you may do as many squats as you can for a 45-second interval, then have 15 seconds of rest before moving onto the next move.
The variations of the workouts will depend on the trainer, but there is no shortage of options.
HIIT will predominantly cover strength and endurance, but also some balance and intense cardio exercise as well.
That said, it can often depend on what equipment is available. However, whether offered at a local gym or an online program—HIIT will have a laundry list of fun exercises to keep things interesting.
Cardio Intensive Programs
- Short to Long Workouts
- Fun Classes or Solo Outings
Cardiovascular endurance is the name of the game—and there are a lot of ways to play.
Anything from going on a half-hour walk, swimming, or running—to taking an aerobic dance class like Zumba, a cycling class, or a skills-based class like boxing counts as cardio.
Cardio intensive programs are everywhere and for a good reason. They’re tons of fun, and they offer what most people are looking for—a good burn!
Working through intense aerobic exercises, getting your body moving and breathing can do wonders to burn calories and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
While I encourage some mixture of anaerobic movements in any workout plan—there’s no better place to start being active than a fun cardio-intensive class or going on run solo or with friends.
- Longer Workouts
- Group Classes with Variations
- Strength, Balance, Flexibility
I honestly cannot praise the benefits of Yoga enough. Either as a primary form of exercise or an addition to a program—Yoga offers a multitude of mental, as well as physical benefits.
Yoga is usually led by a trained instructor, either online or in person.
- Hot Yoga
- Flow Yoga
- Vinyasa or prenatal
- Hatha yoga
- Iyengar yoga
- Kundalini yoga
- Ashtanga yoga
- Bikram yoga.
- Yin yoga.
- Restorative Yoga
Expect both your strength and flexibility to be challenged because you’ll be holding sometimes complex poses. It helps engage a lot of muscles, improve balance and posture by building a strong core.
With beginner options offered, and if mental wellness is part of your goals—Yoga may be the right choice for you.
- Mid-Range Workouts
- Group Classes, Videos
- Strength, Balance, Flexibility
One of the most popular trends of the past few decades came from at Pilates videos and in-person classes.
Pilates covers all the basics of Yoga with the incorporation of muscular strength and endurance exercises.
It’s often a more grounded workout than flow-yoga, and sometimes Pilates uses weights and resistance bands in up the intensity.
It’s an exciting program that is less high energy than HIIT but still offers resistance training and weights for toned muscles. It’s a solid choice for physical and mental wellness.
Oh, and trust me, it’s harder than it looks.
- Short to Long Workouts
- Solo or with Friends
I put weight-training last on the list because while it’s remarkably beneficial, it’s also the most dangerous. The majority of people you see going into a box-gym containing free-weights, machines, and the like scattered about are going there for weight-training.
They’ll move around the gym, following a routine, doing any variety of barbell squats, dumbbell presses, lat-pulls, curls, and so on.
The thing to remember about weight-training is that although there are some fantastic workout programs ascribed to the idea, higher weights can be dangerous without training.
Without knowledge of proper form and mechanics, something taught by classes, personal trainers, or extensive prior experience, many people can get themselves hurt weight-training.
With all that in mind, I still love weight training. But I also acknowledge that before embarking on a weight-training journey—you start training using light to no weight and proper mechanics—correct form matters above everything.
Finding the right workout for you and your goals can be challenging. Remember to choose a program you enjoy and feel comfortable with. This makes forming new health habits all more possible.
Although I believe all of these workout programs are good—variety is the spice of life. And, there are still a ton more out there.
Find something you enjoy, or mix it up—but, above all, stay active.