If you’re fairly active and plan your workout routines ahead of time, we applaud you! Knowing what you are doing ahead of time is being mindful of your body, keeping yourself accountable, and understanding how to rest properly.
However, if you’re looking to create a smarter schedule, we recommend including three essential components: breathing, strength, and flexibility.
By incorporating these elements, you can create an effective workout plan that will increase stamina, endurance, and overall body wellness.
Breathing doesn’t always get the attention it deserves when we workout, which is normal because we often don’t need to think about it. However, when we do pay attention to our breathing, there are tremendous benefits to any physical fitness routine.
Training your breathing muscles will help increase lung capacity, leading to better performance during aerobic activities. It also works the diaphragm, which is part of the body’s ‘core’ and provides the necessary stability for moving and lifting as well.
Aerobic exercises allow us to breathe faster and more deeply, thus maximizing oxygen levels in the blood. The better we are at aerobic fitness, the more efficient the heart, lungs, and blood vessels are at transporting oxygen around the body – making routine physical tasks much easier to handle.
Building up strength and endurance is another crucial part of a proper workout plan. The benefits of properly executed strength training include increased bone density, muscle strength, improved cardiac function, and higher metabolism.
More obvious benefits include enhanced muscle tone, so strength training is excellent when used alongside aerobic exercises as part of a weight-loss routine.
One thing we do want to emphasize is building your core strength. Made up of the abdominal wall, pelvis, lower back, and diaphragm, strengthening your core is essential to stabilizing your body during movement so you can prevent injury!
Other benefits include improved posture, provide better strength for joints, and assist in other physical activities such as holding your child, carrying heavy bags, or lifting a bike onto a bike rack.
Staying limber means including flexibility training in your routine as it can really help to increase mobility while boosting athletic performance.
Flexibility can be improved through dynamic or static stretches. Before a workout, dynamic stretching (warm-up) will prepare your muscles for a hearty workout. After your workout, static stretching (cool-down) is necessary while the muscles are still warm and pliable.
While you’re stretching, check-in with your breath as it can help relax your mind and allow you to focus on getting your movement right. Take it a step further and plan a workout focused on flexibility, such as yoga.
Finally, stretching should never hurt. Instead, treat each stretch like a question and ask yourself: Does it hurt? Am I limbering up after 15 seconds? Can I stretch a little further without pain?
Flexibility is different for everyone, where some people may have tight hamstrings, while others will find shoulder movement more difficult. So again, find stretching exercises tailored to your body that doesn’t hurt you.
‘Bouncing’ stretches are not recommended as they can cause injury.
Balancing these three components into your workout plan is the best way to maximize your exercises so you can decrease the risk of picking up injuries from everyday activities.