Sometimes the changes necessary in ones life can seem daunting. Making ones health a priority can seem like quite a time commitment to a professional, and some people travel for work and won’t always have access to a gym. My favorite exercise program is one of progressive overload customized to the specific fitness interests, goals, and restrictions of my clients. The most important part of my training is teaching exercise concepts which internalized they can be adjusted to any goal and any form of exercise, including the easy to pack for a flight calisthenics (although I do have a full gym I can bring with me, down to dumbbells, kettlebells, elastic bands, and others). I also try to find way to efficiently and compassionately approach the time commitment of fitness.
The CDC recommends at least 2 days a week of full body strength training, and at least 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity cardio, or 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity cardio simply to remain healthy. You, as an important person, probably have other time commitments, and may prefer to combine the two. Interval training is a method of improving ones VO2 max (the heart’s ability to metabolize oxygen). If one wishes to increase the intensity, one can do so either by adjusting the intensity of the exercise or reducing the rest time between “sprints.” This is recommended for everyone from athletes, to youth, to those with various chronic conditions, for various different reasons. If the goal is on increasing muscular strength or size, there are other adjustments that could be made to an exercise plan while staying with a more moderately paced tri-set or superset or traditional set of an exercise.
Adjusting the time under tension of an existing exercise is a way to keep one in the preferred repetitions and sets of an exercise routine to benefit more from hypertrophy (muscle growth). This is a particularly important concept to keep in mind as one progresses in calisthenic exercise. If one remains moving so rapidly as to fully engage the cardiovascular system, then the exercise would improve the body’s VO2 max (important as it declines with age) more than the strength of the muscle fibers in question, like interval training above. Isometric exercise is an extreme version of slowing the movement of an exercise to stillness, and the reduction in range of motion does not have very much impact on hypertrophy, if any. It has been found to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure more than aerobic exercise, and one could expect similar benefits from this more steady paced exercise focused on eccentric movement (inverse resistance) as you also see with practices like yoga or qi gong, not that either are a substitute for medicine.
Plyometric exercise can be used to improve ones fast twitch muscle fibers, the explosive strength necessary for a burst of force. It has been found that plyometric exercise has the same hypertrophic benefit for the lower body as it does when compared with resistance training. One could easily apply the principle to clapping pushups, and see that it is just as transferable as the other concepts. This style of exercise is more than just a performance specific routine for volleyball players or high jump competitors. It can be used for rehabilitation, and even intervals can be used for people with health conditions - provided a doctor signs off on it.
Tabata is a way to ensure that ones VO2 max is improved to the fullest by pushing oneself to the utmost for 20 seconds before a rest of 10 seconds, thereby specifying interval training to a very high intensity. This improves the VO2 max to an equivalent rate as five days of an hour of cardio exercise in four days of four minutes. This high intensity interval training can be combined with circuit training to allow it to be extended as long as the heart rate remains below the exerciser’s maximum. If that is a concern, the rest period is a fantastic time to check and verify that for the duration one has less than one’s age minus 220 BPM divided by 6 (because of the 10 second rest). A way to reduce the intensity to a more bearable level is to increase the rest period while lengthening the exercise time itself in turn.
I think that it is always a good idea to have ones meso, macro, and micro cycles planned out to reach a specific goal. After all, progress is more than just the exercise today, but where to go from there and how to get to the next peak. Not to mention taking time to improve flexibility and recover so as to avoid injury. It is a shame to live without meeting ones potential, and I think it is part of adulthood to recognize ones goals in life and taking the steps required to get there. It is only by pushing oneself that one can soar to success.