Food & Fitness

Looking for the Ultimate Workout

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Check out my previous Aspire Fitness blog posts:

Part One: HITT and the City

Part Two: Tracking food and exercise online

Looking for the Ultimate Workout

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what the “ultimate” workout is. Generally when we decide we need to train for a goal, lose weight, or get in better shape, we tend to look for the perfect workout that will do wonders for us.

I don’t think there is such a thing as the ultimate workout. Maybe – maybe – each of us has our own ultimate workout, the “perfect workout” for us as an individual. Maybe. But as a general rule, I don’t think that there is one way of working out that is necessarily better than another.

There are a variety of benefits that we get from doing different kinds of exercises. For example, at Good Life Fitness, one of my favourite classes is Body Pump. It is an hour-long class with 10 different songs. Each song focuses on a different body part. That means we end up doing 6 minutes straight of different kinds of squats, for example. Killer. After the song is over, we move onto another body part – we are finished with that particular muscle group for the day.

Then again, there is also HITT at Aspire Fitness. In it, we do 90 seconds of an exercise before going straight into the next one, no breaks. 90 seconds is much shorter than 6 minutes, but the weights are generally much heavier, and it is the same movement that we repeat (rather than switching between different kinds of squats throughout the 6 minutes at Body Pump, we do the same kind of squat for 90 seconds of HITT). We also perform that same exercise twice more after we have finished the rest of the exercises in HITT.

Both Body Pump and HITT work the muscles, but they work them in different ways. I am straining my muscles in both classes – for different reasons. And I truly love them both.

My nemesis - hill sprints at HITT! I love this exercise... but hill sprints also cause me much pain 🙂

This is why having a variety of different ways of exercising can be really beneficial. We need to focus on endurance, on good form, on strength-building. I don’t think that it is necessary to do both at the same time, however. You could combine the different kinds of exercises and do, for example, HITT two days a week and Body Pump two days a week, but that might be overkill. Switching things up once every couple months might be a better way to go. Or you could do what I am trying to do: focus on one way of exercising as your main form of fitness (HITT at Aspire Fitness), and use another kind of exercising as a way to supplement it (cardio classes like Body Combat at Good Life Fitness). With plenty of walking and biking for cardio purposes on the side 🙂

My HITT trainer was recently half an hour late for our class (it can happen to anyone! 6am is early – it means I have to wake up just past 5am in order to get there on time. Eek!), so we only did two circuits of the program rather than our usual three. We’re going to be having an extra class at the end of the eight weeks to make up for missing part of the class, but I wanted to get my full workout that day. So, later on that same day, I did a minute or two each of the following: jumping jacks, forward lunges, wall sits, and bicycle crunches. It wasn’t up to par with a regular HITT circuit, but at least it was a little something extra.

I don’t like doing resistance training more than three or four times a week, tops. Our bodies need to recover from all that movement. Combining resistance training with cardio is a really great idea, though. It keeps you having fun and it keeps your body in peak condition. Give me a few different kinds of workouts and I’m happy!

Do you have a favourite kind of exercise? Would you rather do an exercise for five minutes in a row or break it up and come back to it later? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


  1. julie

    Kickboxing! I like zumba, step, too. I do the resistance/strength training about 2x/week, but don’t love it. I love riding my bike, but consider it transportation, and really love hiking, though I don’t have time anymore.

  2. Holly

    I agree! I don’t think there is one workout that is superior to everything else. I think the key is mixing it up!

    I love intervals for cardio (in spin class, walking on an incline, and running) and I love to challenge myself during strength training, too. I used to be ALL cardio, but now I’m about 50/50!

  3. Jody - Fit at 52

    Like you said, I think we all have to find our best workout, what we like & works for us AND we will do!!!

    I love my weight training.. no secret there!!! But I do mix it up with my cardio. I do machines in the gym but different ones & use HIIT, Jody intervals as I call them, steady state & more. I also do plyometrics here & there.

    It is all about finding what works & them listening to the bod & changing it up to keep the bod guessing! 🙂

  4. Pubsgal

    I don’t think there’s one perfect workout for me. I like to mix it up. Maybe that’s why I like triathlon – it keeps me cross-training!

    I loved BodyPump class, and went faithfully, until our gym changed ownership and the new owners dropped all the Les Mills classes. I was happy that the instructor stayed, but the class she teachers is so different! I’m sore every week again. She really mixes up the strength exercises, but it does cover the whole body like BodyPump does. I wish I felt more comfortable with doing strength training on my own, though. It’s an area in which I could really use some improvement.

    For awhile there, I really loved spin class, but I burned out on it last spring. Plus when summer came, I wanted to ride a real bike more often. 🙂

    And I’d love to try kickboxing and zumba! The gym I go to doesn’t have them at a time I can do it.

  5. Dr. J

    I do all kinds of workouts. Really for me nothing puts it all together like the martial arts. All the weight training, long distance running for real endurance (something you do not get from HIIT. If your instructor does not do long distance running ask them to run a 5K and see how far the HIIT takes them.) body work, and bag training all come together when I’m actually applying it by fighting with the other combatants!

    1. Sagan Morrow

      One of the things that frustrated me with aikido was that so much of it was mental rather than physical. That’s what I love about Body Combat – it’s much more physical and you really FEEL your entire body working.

      Although I’ve got to disagree with you about the HITT (at my gym, it’s called HITT – I know that other places call it HIIT, though. Maybe it’s a copyright thing). The person who owns Aspire Fitness actually works with tons of marathon runners and has been able to help them significantly decrease their times and increase their strength. I think that HITT can be a great supplement to running – if you’re a runner, as long as you do running a few times a week, I bet that HITT helps build up that strength a lot more than if you were just doing running alone.

      1. Dr. J

        I do HIIT, Sagan. I just make aerobic running the foundation of my program, not the other way around. All top marathon runners do the same, as well as the speed training

        From my experience, aikado is nowhere near the workout karate is.

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