4 ways back-to-back classes can improve your fitness

Rob Brown Personal Trainer and Programme Manager - Corporate Wellbeing More by this author
Combining two fitness classes in a row can have a bigger impact on your fitness than you may think. Personal Trainer Rob Brown provides a round-up of some of the benefits.

1. Targeting weaker muscles

Fatiguing a muscle group in one class and then attacking it in another is a great way of targeting a weak point in your body and helping you build strength and tone faster. Creating muscle tone and size comes from stressing the muscle enough to create small tears in the muscle fibers, allowing them to adapt to the exercises put on to them. So pre-exhausting the muscles will create more muscle stress, resulting in more growth and muscular development.

It’s worth noting though that if you fatigue a muscle group, you are at a greater risk of injury so listen to your body. Push hard when it burns but not when there is pain. If you encounter pain stop and speak to the instructor.

2. More time for the main workout

As you’re already warmed up from the first class, you can spend more time in the next class pushing yourself. This means more time targeting your goals. Over time your body will be able to cope with more and more stress and increase the size of your cardiovascular system, which means you can go harder for longer. This only applies to classes of a similar nature, such as circuits followed by a HIIT class. Don’t jump straight into a class without warming up correctly for the nature of that class.

3. Adapting to suit your goals

Stacking two of the same class can change the effect of that class to better suit your goals. For example, you can do two spinning classes in a row to turn them into an endurance-focused workout rather than a power or speed session. Cyclists often adopt this approach to increase their aerobic output.

Be aware that doubling up on your classes does mean that your intensity may have to drop to cater for the duration to prevent fatigue. Unless your goal is to work on your lactate threshold or maximum output, (this is the feeling where you are going all out then you start to slow down and you feel like your muscles are getting tighter and tighter) I would only recommend this to the experienced athlete/gym user.

4. Maintaining fitness with little time

For people who struggle to find the time to go to the gym every day combining classes means you can target numerous muscle groups harder without a daily commitment. But it’s still important to do at least 30 minutes of gentle exercise five to seven times a week. This can include walking or cycling to work. Find more tips on keeping active throughout the day here.

Considerations

If you are thinking about stacking your classes break yourself in gently. Try doing a little bit of resistance training before your next class and see how you feel.

The order of the classes is a huge factor in your performance. A recent study conducted showed that performing cardiovascular-themed exercise is best performed after weight training to increase VO2 max output. When performed the other way around fewer reps were performed, rate of perceived exertion was higher, average power and velocity was lower.

If you are looking to stack your classes, go with a weights class (BODYPUMP, ViPR, Kettlebells) followed by a cardiovascular class (BODYATTACK, Cycle, GRIT) to prevent cardiovascular fatigue, which could increase your chances of injury.

Monday 14 November 2016