Choose the ideal workout for you

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Editor’s Note: Rachel Stewart is a plant-based diet and fitness coach whose website is We welcome here as an occasional Live, Laugh, Learn TV guest columnist!

By Rachel Stewart

There are so many different workout methods, gyms, programs, and fitness philosophies. Each one with their own set of chiseled, glowing spokespeople promoting their own method as the “best” way to achieve the body of your dreams. And, really, each one of them could get you to you goals.

So how do you choose? Is there a right choice?

The 100% true answer to that is YES, there is a right choice… for YOU. But, that right choice may look different from you best friend, your boyfriend, or that beach goddess fitness model you are following on Instagram.

When you look at it this way, the issue seems so complicated. But there are a few aspects of a workout program that you can look at to help narrow down your choices. Ultimately, you will have to try some and adapt them to create the lifestyle that works for you.

There are two main aspects that you should look at when deciding which route to take:
They should be both aligned with your goals, and something that you ENJOY and can stick with for months into the future.

Somewhere near 95 percent of the clients I have worked with over the past several years use the words “lean and toned” when describing their ideal physique. Is this you too? I bet it is. This means that you want to decrease your body fat percentage (“lean out”) to reveal muscle structure underneath (“tone up”).

The first part of that statement is “lean”, which means overall fat reduction. Scientifically, the ONLY way to lose fat is to be in a consistent calorie deficit over several weeks. Your diet is the most influential factor when it comes to fat loss, but this is an exercise post, so let’s stay on topic here, Rach.

Fitness-wise, increasing your movement overall, is the best way to increase calorie burn, helping you to put yourself into a caloric deficit. Cardio workouts have the most immediate calorie burn, so if leaning down is your goal, you should include some cardio in there.

Not to mention, it has the added benefits of increasing cardiovascular health, improving endurance, giving you energy, and upping happy hormones.

There are so many different ways to include cardio into your week:

• Walking/running/jogging
• Cardio machines like ellipticals and arc trainers
• Taking a cardio dance class
• Playing a sport
• Cycling
• High intensity interval workouts
• Circuit training or reducing the rest times in between your sets of strength training
• Swimming
• Jumping rope

The second part of that “lean and toned” idea is that underneath the body fat that you are losing, there is some sculpted muscle to reveal…so, you have to set your mind and body to building some muscle. You can’t reveal any “tone” underneath, if there is nothing there that has be toned in the first place. The only way to build muscle is through resistance training, so if a sculpted body is your goal, you need to be doing something each week that stresses your muscles under a load causing them to grow and get firmer.

You’re going to have to get out of your cardio comfort zone and work those muscles! Don’t worry, ladies, this won’t make you bulky or manly! It will shape sexy curves, aid in hormonal regulation and help you to age more gracefully.

There are so many ways to do resistance training workouts, though:

• Weight lifting
• Yoga
• Pilates
• Barre classes
• Bootcamps
• Circuit training
• Calisthenics

Depending on your schedule, preferences, and goals, one may work faster for you than others, but they are all legitimate ways to build muscle tone.

OK, you’re clear on what it takes to reach your “lean and toned” goal, so how do you pick from all of those options. You have to TRY them, and find ones that you enjoy enough that you can stick with it for several months. It takes at least that long to really see progress and results that will last into the future. Fitness isn’t something that you do for just a few weeks and then forget about. Your workout methods have to be something that can be incorporated into your lifestyle for long-term physique and health improvements.

To get “lean and toned” you should be doing a combination of cardio and resistance training each week, for several weeks…months…years.

Hate running but love dancing? Then don’t run! Take a weekly Zumba class and get your groove on!

Hate the vibes of a weight room? Try a barre class or get a couple dumbbells and an at-home workout program that you can do in your living room.

Do you have a knee that acts up with too much jumping? No worries, hop on the elliptical and take some power yoga classes.

There are innumerable ways to “lean down and tone up” your body, but you will never know what is right for you without trying something new. The best way to try out a new system so to have a coach to help you through it.

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