The Best Workouts For Stress, Six Packs, Strength Building & More

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There is no doubt about it, exercise is key to being healthy, both physically and mentally. But there are so many different workouts out there, which one should you pick? Below personal trainer Christiana Lewis advises readers on which workout works best for your specific goals. 

Best Workout For Strength Building

To build full body strength, there are certain exercises you should definitely do. Women used to be scared that strength training would make them bulky but now see that it enables you to shape your body. Moves that work big muscle groups, like squats and deadlifts, are an absolute must. These exercises not only build strength in your legs and glutes, they are fantastic for your core and back. Using weights needs to be done with the correct technique and frankly, personal training is the best way to ensure you are doing things correctly/safely and inline with your goals. Many people repeat the same exercises at the gym using the wrong form or weight size and then wonder why they don’t get results. If personal training isn’t an option, classes like Body Pump (available at most commercial gyms), Ursus Fit (at Ursus Fitness), or the strength class at Studio Fitness are all great options. 

Best Workout For Stress Release

Stress raises our cortisol levels. When those levels are too high too often, issues like weight gain, sleeplessness and other health problems can arise. Exercise lowers your cortisol levels and helps us release endorphins (sort of like a happy feeling hormone) but what works best depends on your body. For some people, yoga calms the mind and body, for others kickboxing helps get their frustrations out. Some people find weightlifting sweats away the stress! Green Queen’s favourite stress release? Hiking! It’s a great activity for the whole family too, which is handy. You can find the best kid-friendly hikes here

group yoga

Best Workout for Getting a Six Pack

Everyone wants abs now! Before talking about the best workout for a six pack, I can’t emphasize enough how when it comes to a six pack, there is no amount of exercise that will counter the negative effects of a poor diet (unless you are a genetic anomaly). Six packs require a diet of dedication- no matter how strong your abs are, if fat is covering then, they will never be seen! At the same time, you do need muscle, and not just abdominal muscle. Your body needs to be a muscle machine from head to toe. For a six pack workout, you need to place a lot of emphasis on full body strength and high intensity cardio- burning fat has to be the main goal: crossfit and HIIT are perfect for this purpose. 

Best Workout For Improving Endurance

For improving endurance, go for longer workouts with minimal rest. Running, cycling and swimming are ideal choices. If the no break option is too hard, go for an on-off approach: 2 mins running, 1 minute brisk walking for example. Spinning classes, like the ones at Torq Cycle, provides a perfect, indoor environment to work on cycling endurance. You can stay off the performance board and go as easy as you like, or compete against others around you to push yourself harder. Adding some distance targets and timing yourself will allow you to see if your improving your endurance over time.  

kickboxing woman

Best Workout For Getting Lean

Mix it up! It can be a real struggle to get lean and even harder to stay lean! The leanest among us vary their workouts. Every week, make sure to do some endurance training, strength training and high intensity training in order to constantly surprise your body. You do need to build a ton of lean muscle: the more lean muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. It’s that simple. Another key component? Watch that diet! Alcohol, refined carbs, refined sugar, fruit juices etc- those are all a no-no. It’s also massively important to get enough sleep. Time and time again, the research shows that those who sleep too little have trouble burning fat. One more thing: don’t overtrain i.e take adequate rest days.

Best Workout For Rapid Weight Loss

Incorporate some intense, powerful workouts as well as longer, more endurance focused training. For example, combine high intensity cardio like rowing machine sprints or hill sprints with lower impact but still heart-rate pushing hikes, cycles, jogs, etc. These types of exercise will burn more calories and have more of an impact on your metabolism than workouts like Pilates or yoga. Long story short: you need to get your heart rate up and sweat!

Best Workout For Beginners

For those new to exercise, I really think it’s best to have more instruction and by that I mean invest in a personal trainer if possible or go to classes with fewer people where you are likely to get more individual attention. TRX classes are a great way for beginners to get a full body workout that incorporates cardio, core building and strength training, plus instructors can easily adapt the moves to suit your specific needs. Avoid spending hours on machines such as the Elliptical. It’s pretty much a complete waste of time. Find a gym with a friendly atmosphere AKA supportive and encouraging trainers! If you are a beginner, the key is to find a community and a workout you find fun- you are far more likely to stick with it! So go on, be brave and give something different a try. What’s the worst that can happen?

Christiana Lewis is an accomplished kick-boxer, a certified personal trainer, a cycling instructor and the co-founder of Asia’s first grass-fed whey protein ice cream company Ice ‘N’ Lean.


Photo credit: 6-9-12 Project Yoga Richmond via photopin (license),   Opening Sportweek 2009 via photopin (license) and Photo Imaging Expo 2009 via photopin (license).

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