Fitness is essential to a healthy lifestyle. A well-rounded fitness program involves more than just doing cardio exercises and lifting weights. To achieve optimal health, a balanced fitness program should include four key components: cardio, strength training, mobility, and flexibility. Call it the recipe for “The Perfect Workout”!
By incorporating all of these elements into your workout routine, you can ensure that you are working out all the planes of motion in your body. And also avoiding imbalances that can lead to injury and other health issues.
Cardiovascular exercise, or “cardio” for short, is any activity that gets your heart rate up and increases your breathing rate. This type of exercise is important for improving cardiovascular health and burning calories. Also, it helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Examples of cardio exercises include running, cycling, swimming, and jumping rope.
Mobility Training/Flexibility Training
Mobility and flexibility training are the most important and most often missed ingredients to the recipe for the perfect workout.
They are two crucial components of a well-rounded workout program that focus on improving joint range of motion and muscle flexibility.
These types of exercises are essential for:
- maintaining joint health
- preventing injury
- improving athletic performance
- preventing muscle imbalances
- improving posture
- and reducing stress
Examples of mobility exercises include yoga, stretching, foam rolling, and dynamic warm-up exercises. On the other hand, flexibility exercises include static stretching, yoga, and Pilates. By incorporating mobility and flexibility training into your workout routine, you can optimize your physical health and fitness and reduce the risk of injury.
Contrary to a popular myth, strength training is more efficient for burning fat and keeping it off than cardio. Strength training involves lifting weights or using resistance to build and maintain muscle mass. This type of exercise is important for increasing strength and power, improving bone density, and boosting metabolism. Examples of strength training exercises include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and bicep curls.
Balanced Programming and Planes of Motion
To achieve optimal health and fitness, it’s important to incorporate all four of these components into your workout routine. A balanced program should include a combination of cardio, strength training, mobility, and flexibility exercises. All of these should be tailored to your specific fitness goals and abilities.
In addition to incorporating these four components, it’s also important to work out all the planes of motion for your body.
There are three planes of motion:
- sagittal (forward and backward)
- frontal (side to side)
- and transverse (rotational)
By working out in all of these planes of motion, you can ensure that you are targeting all of the muscles in your body. You’re also avoiding imbalances that can lead to injury.
Examples of exercises that work out all the planes of motion include:
- Squat with a lateral raise. This exercise works out the sagittal plane (squatting) and the frontal plane (raising your arms to the side).
- Standing rotational chop. This exercise works out the sagittal plane (standing upright) and the transverse plane (rotating your upper body).
- Side lunge with a twist. This exercise works out the frontal plane (lunging to the side) and the transverse plane (twisting your upper body).
A balanced fitness program that includes cardio, strength training, mobility, and flexibility exercises, along with a focus on all the planes of motion, is essential for achieving optimal health and fitness. Incorporating strength training, in particular, is a more efficient way to burn fat and keep it off than cardio alone.
So, what does that even look like anyways? Drum roll, please…
Enter “The Perfect Workout”
To achieve the perfect workout, it’s important to structure your routine to include all four tenants of fitness and all three planes of motion.
Begin with a dynamic warm-up.
This should include cardio, flexibility, and mobility exercises, as well as a specific focus on preparing the body for the workout ahead. You can find more details on dynamic warm-up techniques in my other article on here titled “The Dynamic Warmup, Are you ready to lift?“. Cardio (5-10 mins Max.)
During the flexibility portion of your workout, focus on stretching exercises that help loosen up your muscles and improve your range of motion. This is also an ideal time to incorporate self-myofascial release (SMR) techniques. Example: foam rolling, to help alleviate muscle tension and improve flexibility. (10-15mins)
Next, move on to strength training exercises that target all three planes of motion.
Incorporate exercises that work on the sagittal plane, such as squats and lunges. Also, the frontal plane, such as side lunges and lateral raises. Then, the transverse plane, such as rotational exercises like woodchoppers and Russian twists. Most people I find generally train too long in this phase risking injury (45mins Maximum).
After completing your strength training exercises, finish your workout with a cool-down.
Include light cardio and static stretching. This will help bring your heart rate down and prevent dizziness or fainting. Static stretching can help improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness.
Stay tuned for some great cool-down workouts in future articles!
Remember: foam “rolling” in the dynamic warm-up is focused on trigger point release. On the other hand, post-workout rolling is more focused on rolling out the muscles to improve recovery.
Obviously, in our busy lives, it would be quite a challenge to incorporate all of this into every workout every day. But with proper programming it is achievable. I can’t tell you how many times I have come across the 6-day week aspiring bodybuilder who literally can’t externally rotate (can’t turn left) due to lack of mobility and flexibility in their program.
“Let’s make skipping mobility and flexibility as shameful as skipping leg day when it comes to gym culture”
In conclusion, by incorporating all four tenants of fitness and all three planes of motion, along with SMR techniques during the flexibility portion of your workout, you can ensure that your body is properly prepared for the workout ahead. Also, that you are targeting all the muscles in your body to avoid imbalances that can lead to injury and postural dysfunction. And most importantly we need to be working out Pain-Free!