7 types of exercise training – and how to find which is best for you

HIIT, strength, cardio. There are myriad ways to exercise, but how do different training types differ, and which is best for you?

HIIT, functional, cardio, strength, cross-training – there is a host of ways to improve your fitness.

But according to fitness trainer Sam Merza, one method of training stands out above all others.

“It is the one that you can do consistently and will help you reach your goals,” says Sam, national fitness trainer at Genesis Health and Fitness.

“There are many different types (of training), but find what makes you smile and fits in your lifestyle routine.”

Flow Athletic director Ben Lucas suggests trying a few types of training to see what you will stick with.

“Generally, though, if you’re looking to lose weight, a combination of strength and cardio training would be ideal for you,” he says.

“If you’re looking to gain weight, do less cardio and more strength. If you’re training for fun and good health, mix it up.”

To help you decide what might suit you, here’s a basic run down on some popular forms of training.

What is plyometric training?

Plyometric training comprises exercises that train your muscles to produce strength and speed, explains Ben.

“You will often see people doing squat jumps, lunge jumps or bounds as part of a plyometrics session,” says Sam.

Benefits of plyometric training

Sam says plyometric training is good for boosting athletic performance.

What is strength training?

Strength exercise essentially involves training with weight.

“When training for strength you will progress from body weight to weighted exercises, and find squats, bench press, pull ups, deadlifts and sit ups among the common training programs,” says Sam.

Benefits of strength training

Strength training can provide both physical and mental gains, says Sam.

“We see increased bone mineral density, increased functionality and independence, weight loss and other physical responses, but what we love celebrating in the fitness industry is the confidence and positive lifestyle change that comes with strength training,” he says.

What is functional training?

This is training with your body’s functions in mind – such as sitting, standing, getting into a car, pushing open a door, playing with your family, taking part in casual sport and recreation – to improve quality of life, stay healthy, happy and able for longer, says Sam.

“We will often see movements weighted such as squats, deadlifts, bent over rows, bodyweight exercises such as lunges, push ups, and rotational movements such as ball throws,” he says.

Benefits of functional training

“It can help build strength, agility, balance,” says Ben. “It could also help with weight loss and bone density.”

What is athletic training?

Sam explains athletic training is a specific series of movements designed to improve performance in a certain sport or activity.

“An example of this might be training with a heavy sled working through a series of sprints,” says Sam.

Benefits of athletic training

“The obvious benefits are performance based, so sport dependent, but using football as an example, training someone with explosive strength and power will help them break the line and gain meterage for the team,” says Sam.

What is cardio training?

Cardio training is anything that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster and more deeply, explains Ben.

“It helps improve aerobic capacity which in turn helps your heart, lungs and blood vessels efficiently deliver oxygen throughout your body,” he says.

Traditional cardio exercises include jogging, running, cycling and swimming.

Benefits of cardio training

Ben says cardio training can help you build fitness, tire less easily, burn calories, have better appetite control, get a better night’s sleep, and boost your endorphins.

What is HIIT training?

High intensity interval training (HIIT) involves working at an intensity for a period of time and then resting, says Ben.

The exercises can vary, but burpees, high knees, squats, push ups and star jumps are commonly used in HIIT training.

Benefits of HIIT training

“Your metabolism is higher for hours after you exercise this way,” says Ben.

“It can help you lose fat, may help you gain muscle, and can reduce blood sugar levels.”

What is cross-training?

This involves multiple types of training, says Ben.

“For example, instead of adding more miles to their training, a runner may want to also do swimming or cycling to build their endurance and work different muscles,” he says.

Sam says a simple example of this type of training would be to include weight training one day, and swimming the next, then Pilates and so on.

Benefits of cross-training

Sam says the training variety allows decreased risk of repetitive movement based injury, problems resulting from insufficient rest and increasing your overall and general fitness.

Written by Claire Burke.