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Featured in: Fitness & Weight Management  |  August 25, 2016

Create Your Ideal Workout Plan

Want a stronger core or more endurance? There's a workout plan for that.

By Linda Melone, CSCS   |   Edited by Brian Levine and Christie Bacchioni

Whether you want to hit a golf ball farther or feel your best at the beach, a tailored workout plan can help get you where you want to go.  But what should be in your workout plan?   Here we list out 4 key components that should be incorporated in your monthly routine:

#1 Cardiovascular Fitness

As we mentioned in a previous blog, cardio is the best thing for your heart.  It’s also integral to building up your aerobic endurance which is key to remaining active for a long period of time.  But it takes some time to get there, especially if you’ve been sedentary until now.

To succeed, you’ll need to balance these 5 cardiovascular fitness variables:

  • Choose the cardiovascular exercise of your choice
  • Decide on the # of times per week
  • Set your pace
  • Clock your time and distance
  • Track your progression

You should aim for about 3 or more non-consecutive days and plan on some variety.

According to Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, exercise physiologist, marathoner, triathlete and author of Swim, Bike, Run—Eat (Fair Winds Press), “You should aim for about 3 or more non-consecutive days and plan on some variety.  For example, if you enjoy walking, mix it up by biking, swimming or doing other cardiovascular exercise on alternate days.”  

It’s also best to keep it simple when you start out.  “Begin with 20 minutes—or even 10 minutes,” suggests Holland.  “And progress slowly, no more than 10% per week, which pertains to either distance added or intensity. Too much too soon is the reason behind most injuries.”  So if you’re currently walking or jogging a mile, add only one-tenth of a mile each week.  “You should feel less tired and be able to walk farther as you build up your stamina,” says Holland.

#2 Resistance Training

Developing overall muscle tone requires resistance training based on the overload principle (creating greater-than-normal stress or load on the body).

Once the body adapts to a particular level of stress, you must continue to increasingly challenge the muscle for it to keep changing. This change may include increased muscle growth, which appears as muscle tone. (Don’t worry, ladies: Women’s bodies don’t contain male hormones in the amounts needed to produce bulging biceps or tree-trunk thighs.)

#3 Core Strength

A strong core helps you safely perform just about every activity of daily living. Your core muscles wrap around your trunk like a corset and work in a coordinated effort to keep your pelvis, lower back, hips and abs working together in sync. This not only prevents injury but also gives you better stability and balance. 

To develop core strength, it is important to focus on the body from the inside out.  “Areas like the transverse abdominis (deep abdominals) are often overlooked when doing core strengthening,” says Jacque Crockford, exercise physiologist and education specialist with the American Council on Exercise. “These important muscles stabilize your body against movement, protecting it from injury.”

#4 Flexibility

Defined as the range of motion around a joint, flexibility requirements vary for different sports and activities. Being inflexible increases the risk of injury, making improvements in range-of-motion an important part of any workout plan. Even if you initially feel stiff, regular stretching, the use of a foam roller or practicing yoga can help over time.

If you create a tailored workout routine with all 4 of these key components and stick with it, you’ll be on your way to achieving your fitness goals.

What workout plan are you currently following?  Let us know!

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