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What are the Different Types of Workout Plans?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated: Feb 20, 2024

There are almost too many types of workout plans to name, but all fall within three main categories. Sub-categories are also available, meaning they may combine more than one type of plan or they add something extra to an existing concept. The three main types of workout plans are generally either cardiovascular, strength training, or flexibility plans. Many times, one plan will use elements of all three categories to enhance results.

Cardiovascular (cardio) exercise is any type that makes the heart beat faster and the respiratory system work harder. This means that more blood is pumped through the body in less time, breathing becomes elevated, and the person doing the workout usually sweats from the rise in body temperature which often results. These types of exercises generally burn the most calories, as well as promote heart and lung health.

Strength training involves the use of weight machines, free weights, or resistance bands. These types of techniques are used to build muscle and firm up the body. Since muscle cells burn fat and calories faster than fat cells, having more muscle usually means faster weight loss.

Flexibility training helps the joints and muscles become more limber over time by stretching them. Examples of this type of exercise include yoga or Pilates. Flexibility exercises also help to elongate and lengthen the muscles.

The best types of workout plans combine all three of these exercise types to enhance weight loss and promote health. Circuit training is one example that combines both cardiovascular exercises with strength training. Participants perform strenuous cardiovascular moves for 30 seconds to one minute at time, and then switch to a weight machine for the same length, followed by a brief period of less strenuous cardio. Some research has indicated that by alternating periods of fast-paced movement with periods of light exercise, more calories are burned in less time. The average “circuit” is about half an hour in length.

Pilates is another one of the many types of workout plans which combines several types of exercise. This type of workout combines yoga-like stretching routines with muscle toning moves and cardio elements to burn calories. There are different variations of this workout, some being more fast-paced than others.

One can also invent many types of workout plans at home by combining cardio, flexibility, and strength training in a variety of ways. Dancing combined with yoga and free weights, for example, would be an effective weight loss routine. Any combination that works the muscles while increasing the heart rate and promoting flexibility will aid in weight loss and maintenance, firm the major muscle groups, and promote longevity.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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