It’s easy to get caught up a static exercise routine. I used to do the elliptical for an hour at a time at a moderate pace, 5 days a week, and that was my workout. I did this for a few years, all the while considering myself a fit person. But there is so much more to fitness than cardiovascular and respiratory endurance. I’ve also known someone who only lifted heavy weights as their single form of exercise. But there is so much more to fitness than muscular strength. If we strive to be physically fit, we should make it a habit to address all five components of fitness into our regular routines.
Moving the joints to their full range of motion. I’m listing this one first because I think it’s the one most people skip. There are 2 basic types of stretching, dynamic and static. Dynamic stretches are active movements, like an alternating frontal kick to stretch the hamstrings. These types of stretches are best done as a warm up to slowly increase heart rate while prepping the body for more movement. Static stretches are held longer, 10 seconds or more. These are best done at the end of the workout, after the body is warmed up and circulation has been increased throughout. I also like to do some deep restorative stretches before bed.
This a is more of a high rep / low to no weight type of exercise. If you can go through a movement for 10 repetitions or more, you’re training your muscular endurance.
Strength is more about how much you can lift at once, at your very max. If you are doing 3-6 reps and struggling to finish the last reps, you’re training your muscular strength.
Specifically your muscular composition. Using your weight to distinguish your body composition like using the BMI scale, is an outdated and ineffective way to check your body composition. As we all know, muscle weighs more than fat, so a very muscular person is usually considered overweight or obese when using the BMI scale. Knowing your body fat percentage is a more accurate way of testing your body composition.
Elevating your heart rate and keeping it elevated. When I used to do my moderate cardio for an hour, I would barely break a sweat. I moved through my cardio session with ease, and I had no clue that my workout was not an effective exercise, especially once I had been doing it for a while and my body was so used to it. When it comes to cardio, it’s all about the intensity. A short 10 minute high intensity interval session can be more effective than a 45 minute moderate session. You can usually tell how intense the workout is by your ability to breathe or talk. Tabata training came about after studies on very short but very intense exercise. I’ve tried it on a stationary bike, going for 10 seconds at your absolute max followed by 20 seconds rest, and repeating 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. It’s actually an extremely effective and time efficient way to train for cardiovascular endurance. Not only do you continue to have an increased calorie burn for much longer after you’re done, it also increases your vO2 max, but it’s easier said than done. A 4 minute Tabata session feels like it requires at least 100 times more effort than a long moderate session.
Don’t be overwhelmed by all of this. Including at least 4 of these can be done within an hour of exercise. You can begin with a 5 min warm up, including dynamic stretching. Then start some training with high rep, low weight and slowly begin to go heavier for less reps. You can do this for 25 minutes, then fit in 25 minutes of cardio, followed by 5 minutes of deep static stretching. All that is left is body composition which takes time and regular work.
I hope this helps inspire you to be well-rounded in all the areas of fitness.
Thanks for reading,