I've been writing so very much about mindset over these past 550+ posts. Sometimes I leave the true workout breakdowns to the sessions themselves, but I think it's helpful to most of you if I share a (somewhat) basic list of what your relationship with fitness should look like, ideally. A list of what components you should include in your workouts.
These days, everything seems to be so separated. Hitting different classes and methods can be great to add variety, but sometimes even with classes we fall into one main modality and miss the mark in other areas. There's HIIT, barre, yoga, pilates, running, crossfit, martial arts, walking, sprinting, spinning... it's difficult to choose what's right for you and where to best spend your energy and time. And every day, someone in this industry is trying to squash other modalities in order to be competitive. And it gets confusing! Who's sincere? More importantly, what's best for YOU individually?
Try to tick these boxes with your workout repertoire and you're likely to be in your best shape, securely fit and healthy for your future and also happy & balanced in your present.
Yes, it can be one of the most effective methods to improve your overall fitness. To keep your heart rate conditioned for high bursts and quick recovery (so if you ever need to dash after or away from something suddenly, you won't drop dead). It boosts metabolism and burns fat.
Classic strength moves are classic for a reason. Use a mixture of specific exercises and broader, compound movements to keep all of your muscles strong, to strengthen bones, joint and muscles, ward off injury and debilitating conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.
1-2 times / week, do a longer, less intense cardio session to keep the endurance side of your heart in good shape. This is an important base for every body. It's also incredibly good for your mind and stress levels, to have a light intensity, easy sweat focusing on sustainability.
Pros are divided here. You have to find someone you trust, and find what works best for you. Obsessively stretching a muscle that feels "tight" is not necessarily the best move. If your body feels really imbalanced, consider working with a professional or at least booking in once for a program design that will help you to tackle some of your imbalances. You might have some muscles not firing properly, and then others being inhibited because of this. Imbalances over time can lead to acute OR chronic injury, leading to pain... leading to a less favourable relationship with exercise all around. So take your anatomical balance seriously. I can't, here, comment on exactly what kind of stretching you should or should not be doing, but most people need some whether it be dynamic (movement-based stretching) or static (holds).
Minute Movement and Posture Work
Elements of pilates or smaller, rehabilitative movements should be included in almost everybody's exercise routine to again focus on rebalancing one's anatomy. Your strength routine should include work on the glutes, core and midback to counter our smartphone-addicted and desk-job culture. We HAVE to use our workouts to combat the positions we find ourselves in repeatedly day in and day out, otherwise we risk imbalances leading to dramatic discomfort.
Isometric AND Dynamic Movement
Every good program will include isometric exercises. Isometric exercises are ones in which you exert strength and hold a position. The plank, for instance, is the most popular one. Although we use many plank variations in our training, we also add isometric holds in other exercises. I love isometrics particularly because they strengthen the mind-body connection. Holding a contraction improves proprioception or your brain's ability to conceptualize the work it's doing, "body sense", in the specific area you are working. On top of this (and also BECAUSE of this) you can complete more effective work. Isometric movement also improves cardiovascular function, allows you to train your breathing while holding exertion, and is very beneficial for the joints.
Dynamic movement includes a broad ROM (range of motion) and helps to improve mobility. I believe a good exercise program will include both angles of movement, isometric and dynamic. The more ways in which you can train your body to move and exert, the better. Dynamic exercise MUST execute great form and must consider both the LEVEL and the IMBALANCES of an individual. There are 5 million exercises on Instagram, but which ones are too fancy and lack efficiency for you specifically? It can be hard to know. It's good to build from the classics, note any pain or discomfort in basic compound movements, and use these results as a guide for what more complicated movements should come next. Again, cookie cutter workouts can be okay to get you moving at first, but unless you have a lot of experience, be careful here. You don't want to further wedge an imbalance and risk chronic pain or injury.
Multi Planes of Movement
This goes along with dynamic movement. Make sure that you are not always moving frontwards and backwards in a sagittal plane of motion! A lot of exercises (running, cycling, walking, forward or drop lunges, squats) have you moving in the same directions all the time. Add in some lateral lunges, squat shuffles, lateral jumps, different angled rows, chest presses and push-ups, AND rotational exercises, for example, to prevent getting stuck and again, creating imbalances that will lead to anatomical dysfunction.
I hope I'm not forgetting anything. This is a bit of a complicated post, but a good place to start. Most of these facets can be fit into one great workout, and we at PT certainly follow this blueprint, aiming to have our clients functioning most efficiently from many different angles. That said, you can compose your workouts this way yourself. There are so many resources out there these days.
*To sum up, and this applies to all levels and its intensity can vary*:
Add some lengthier, easier cardio sessions (a bike ride, long walk, easy run, etc.) Add some circuit training or interval components. In your strength routine itself, include some mobility and postural work, isometrics, dynamic movements, multidirectional exercises AND classic, compound moves. And, above all, do try to learn proper breathing, patience, focus and efficient form. I know it sounds like a lot, but start somewhere and get practicing. It can mean a world of difference for getting in and STAYING in your best shape.