Balance Is Key: How to Create a Well-Rounded Workout Routine (Guest Post)

Variety is the spice of life – and fitness.

Sure, in the grand scheme of things, doing anything is still better than doing nothing – especially if your goal is to meet the CDC’s 150-minutes-a-week requirements – but doing the same things day in and day out?

Sounds boring, if you ask me.

Plus, it can lead to some nasty injuries – and we don’t want that, do we?

But how to create a well-rounded workout routine that not only reduces the risk of injury but prevents imbalance and helps you meet your fitness goals, too?

Stick around, and you’ll find out!

3+ Pillars of a Well-Rounded Fitness Program – and Why They Matter

I know you’re probably thinking:

What’s up with all this balance talk? Can’t I just stick to whatever’s worked for me in the past?

Well, you could – but you shouldn’t.

Every type of exercise – be it jogging, Pilates, or whatever fitness gurus seem to be promoting these days – has its specific benefits, but it can never replace a complete, balanced fitness program.

Look at it this way:

Bananas are healthy and nutritious, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to eat bananas and nothing else for the rest of your life, huh?

That said, here’s what a well-rounded fitness program should look like:

Cardio (Aerobic)

By incorporating cardio into your workout routine, you’re working towards a healthier heart, lungs, and blood vessels, and improving your circulation and oxygen delivery throughout your body.

In short, cardio could reduce your risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, and diabetes, to name a few.

Don’t limit yourself to just running, though:

Any form of exercise that uses large muscle groups, causes you to breathe faster, and brings your heart rate up for a set period counts – so, biking, dancing, swimming, and yes, even walking can (and should) be a part of your workout routine.

And while cardio is a cornerstone of most fitness programs – especially for those looking to shed some pounds – it’s not the only type of exercise you should do.

Strength (Resistance) Training

Okay, let’s get one thing straight:

You do need to lift, no matter what your fitness goals are.

Maybe not crazy, make-your-head-spin weights, but you still need to work your major muscle groups two to three times a week at around 75 to 85 percent of their maximum capacity.

Building muscle strength and endurance helps with a myriad of things, from retaining or increasing muscle mass and improving your muscle tone to burning extra calories and helping you maintain your weight loss.

Oh, and don’t let the fear of “bulking up” stop you from picking up a pair of dumbbells:

It takes a lot (and I do mean A LOT) more to bulk up than what you’re led to believe.

Bonus Tip:

Pay attention to your core strength, and I don’t mean just working on your six-pack, either – there’s more to it than a flat belly:

Your core includes your abdominal, as well as your back muscles, and targeting these muscle groups will not only keep your back healthy but improve your stability and posture, as well.

Flexibility

I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that this one keeps getting ignored left and right. Nobody seems to care about adequately stretching their muscles before or after working out, let alone dedicate entire workouts (yoga, anyone?) to improving their flexibility.

But here’s the thing:

Your muscles won’t be able to go through the full range of motion if they lack flexibility, which leaves you with restricted movements and a higher risk of injury.

How To Create A Well-Rounded Workout Routine: How Much & How Often

Let’s do a quick re-cap:

You want your workout routine to be effective, balanced, and safe.

To do so, you have to incorporate different forms of exercise and switch things up on a regular basis.

So, the next time you’re about to put together a workout plan for the week, I’d like you to follow these simple tips:

  • Pick three to six days a week and make them your cardio days – 30 to 45 minutes per session should be enough to meet the requirements set by the CDC. As you can see, aerobic exercises play a significant role in your overall workout plan and comprise a considerable portion of your total workout time.
    Opt for rhythmic, full-body movements that will elevate your heart rate enough to leave you slightly breathless, but able to hold a conversation.

  • Aim to do a minimum of two to three days of resistance training each week, with sessions lasting between 20 and 30 minutes, but make sure you’re not working the same muscle groups on consecutive days. Instead, opt for running after leg day – if you can handle it, that is.  

Everything from lifting weights to doing the good, old bodyweight exercises (think push-ups, squats, and crunches) counts here.

  • Whenever you do cardio or strength training, set aside some time for stretching before your session – and do the same at the end of your workout.
    And no, stretching is not optional – as I mentioned before, it will improve your flexibility, range of motion, and posture.

  • I know rest days are optional, but I strongly recommend you give yourself a day off each week – it will give your body some time to heal and rest, and you’ll be able to give it 100 percent during your next workout!

Balance Is Everything

I know you can’t wait to put everything you’ve just learned about how to create a well-rounded workout routine to work, so I promise to keep this short:

No one expects you to do all of it in one session (but kudos to you if you can!), so don’t leave feeling overwhelmed – as with many things in life, it’s all about finding balance.

Do a little bit of everything throughout your week, and you’ll get there – no matter what your fitness goal is!

Before you hit the gym for your next session, remember to drop a comment below, and let me know if you found the article helpful!

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