If you want to get the most out of your training, you need to ensure you’re incorporating more than one mode of exercise. The fitness principles for an exercise program to be complete are:
- Aerobic capacity
- Mobility (flexibility)
Building strength and its benefits go well beyond being able to swing your kids around when you turn 40 and to open a jam jar after you turn 60. The health implications go from a musculoskeletal right down to a hormonal and cellular level.
For healthy neuromuscular function, you need to stimulate your nervous system with high resistance exercise such as weight training. For more information, refer to strength training.
If you have a solid foundation of strength, you’re off to a great start. However, strength doesn’t equal power. It’s only part of the equation. Most functional movements, everyday tasks, and sports require power.
Power is the application of strength over time and is dependant upon the speed that you can apply maximal force. Therefore, to develop power, you need to work on the time component alongside your strength training. For more on the benefits of acquiring power, refer to power training.
So you’re strong, have added power development to your training program and have engaged all of your type II “fast twitch” muscle fibers, the skeletal muscle fibers used for strong and powerful bursts of movement. But when it comes to muscle metabolism, the consumption of energy by your muscle fibers to perform work, aerobic respiration replenishes the anaerobic energy system.
Building your aerobic capacity improves your lung power and cardiorespiratory health. It also significantly increases the efficiency of muscle metabolism. Aerobic exercise is also known to enhance mitochondrial function which, although not often discussed, is an essential component of health.
When you’re able to tick the boxes for strength, power, and aerobic capacity, there’s one last thing to be aware of: mobility.
For a balanced body posture and to be able to move well, you need to be mobile. Stretching improves your range of motion, otherwise known as flexibility. It also enhances your ability to apply proper technique as well as advances your optimal agonist versus antagonist interaction. For more, refer to stretching for flexibility and mobility.
With those four foundations covered, you should move well and feel good.
What makes the perfect fitness program specifically for you does not have a simple answer. Everybody is different, and many factors need consideration including your goals, age, personal preferences, genetic potential, training history, available equipment, time allocation, occupation, posture-related issues, weaknesses and history of illness and injury.
This is where the value of a quality coach or personal trainer comes into play, even if they only assess you and set you up with a program. For more on how to choose a trainer, refer to choosing a coach or personal trainer.