Exercise Guidelines: Aerobic and Resistance Training

Written by | Posted under Exercising | 8 years ago

Use these exercise guidelines to structure your workouts and achieve your desired fitness goals.

Aerobic Training

Aerobic Training has many benefits, including weight loss, increased stamina, and decreased risk of heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Aerobic training is also the core of many exercise routines for women as many women prefer fat burning over muscle building.

Generally, aerobic training should be performed at a level between 60% and 90% of your heart rate maximum (HR max).  Although not  as accurate as an exercise stress test, a simple way to estimate your HR max is to use the formula: 220 – your age.  For example, if you are 30, your HR max is 220 – 30 = 190 beats per minute (bpm).  So your desirable HR range for aerobic training would be 114 (60%) – 171 (90%).  The duration and intensity of your workout are inversely related.  If you are working out at 60% – 70% of your HR max, aim for a duration of 20 – 30 minutes.  If you are working out at 80% – 90% of your HR max, 15 minutes may suffice.  The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise most days of the week.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends aerobic exercise at 65% – 90% HR max for 20 – 60 continuous minutes 3 – 5 days per week.


Aerobic Guidelines

  • Intensity: 60% – 90% HR max
  • Duration: 20 – 30 minutes
  • Frequency: 3 – 4 days per week
  • Tips: Include exercises that involve large muscle groups, such as walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, circuit training, etc.  Begin your workout with a 10 minute warm-up  and end with a 10 minute cool-down.

Resistance Training

Some common goals for resistance training are to build strength/size, endurance/tone, and power.  The guidelines for resistance training are based on your 1-repetition maximum (1 RM).  This simply means the total amount of weight that you can lift once (for each particular lift, such as bench press, squat, curls, etc.).  This can be determined directly through testing, or it can be estimated from the number of times you are able to lift a lighter weight.  To estimate your 1 RM, click here.

Resistance Guidelines

  • Intensity: this is dependent upon your goal.  Recommended numbers of sets and repetitions are provided for your specific 1 RM.
  • Strength/Size: 3 sets of 11 repetitions at 80% 1 RM with 2 – 3 minute rest between sets.
  • Endurance/Tone: 3 sets of 24 – 30 repetitions at 60% 1 RM with 1 – 2 minute rest between sets.
  • Power: Power = force (% 1 RM) x distance / time.  Based on this formula, increase % 1 RM OR increase the speed of the lift (decrease time) to increase power.  3 sets of 3 – 5 repetitions at >80% 1 RM with 3 – 5 minute rest between sets.
  • Frequency: at least 2 – 3 days per week
  • Tips: Circuit training is effective in gaining strength and increasing aerobic capacity.  For example, performing bench press, squats, lat pulldowns, hamstring curls, military press, and lunges in sequence allows you to rest one muscle while working another.  This is considered “active” rest.  It is also a great way to expedite a workout if you are in a hurry.  Begin your workout with a 10 minute warm-up  and end with a 10 minute cool-down.


  • Your training goal: Your body will adapt to the specific demand you place on it.
  • Your age and health conditions: Consult a doctor if you are beginning an exercise program.
  • Your experience with exercise: If you aren’t familiar with something, be cautious and consult a physical therapist or personal trainer for advice.
  • Your safety: When training, start small and increase as you are able.  Remember the need to build a baseline before beginning more advanced activities such as plyometrics.  Always use a spotter when lifting weights.
  • The stability demands of the exercise: For example, using free weights requires more stability than weight machines and, therefore, is more advanced.
  • Different modes of exercising: Balancing your aerobic and resistance workouts with yoga, pilates, stretching, etc. is a great way to cross-train and maintain fitness.
  • Technique: This is crucial to all aspects of training, including running.  If you are doing yoga, pilates, or weight training with incorrect form, you may be doing more harm than good.  If you have questions, ask a physical therapist or qualified personal trainer (or yoga/pilates specialist) for advice.  One-on-one training is the best way to learn correct technique.
  • Recovery: Make sure you have some whey protein available for post workout recovery protein shakes.
  • Supplements: If your goal is to lose fat, you should look into alternatives to the ECA stack to help jumpstart your goal..

Most importantly, HAVE FUN.  If you are enjoying your workouts, you are more likely to adhere to your exercise program and experience the benefits. If you are new to working out, try using music to compliment your beginner workout routine. It will help you ease your way into a regular exercise routine.

One Comment

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  1. belenia said,

    great info…thanks

    8 years ago


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