Why should we care about a well-balanced workout routine?
It’s the path to Vibrant Vitality.
There’s a lot of great info here…. but if it’s just too darn long for you to read, you can check out This fitness Myth my be keeping you Stressed and Exhausted on LinkedIn, which is the short version of this article.
The right workout portions can fuel our abundant energy. Plus, a nice side-benefit to having a well-balanced workout routine is looking good in those clothes in the back of our closets.
A well-balanced workout helps us prioritize how to spend our limited time-budget to get the most out of any time we spend working out.
Too Busy to Workout?
If you are too busy right now to fit movement into your schedule, let this plant a seed for you because one day you will be in a place that you have the time-budget to allow for movement. Until then, remember that 5-minutes is way better than zero minutes, so do what you can without “shoulding” all over yourself.
In order to talk about portions, we first need to talk about ways we can group workout types. Once we group our movement into workout types, then we’ll be able to think about portions and about well-balanced movement. (Just like we aim to think about well-balanced meals!)
Let’s think of these groups as buckets or containers for organizing various types of movement.
Is there one and only one way to group workout types? No, there isn’t. There are many philosophies and many experts in movement, but no single definitive workout protocol that works for each and every one of us because we are each similar, and we are also each unique. Our bodies were designed to move. The how and the how often are unique to each of us, which is a wonderful opportunity for us to connect with ourselves.
Allow that to remind you that YOU are the expert of you. Use the data and studies that are available to inform you. And certainly, if you have any questions or any doubts, consult your healthcare practitioner.
35 Years of Experience
I have been a recreational athlete for 35 years and counting. Over the years, I have earned a number of accolades from competing and more importantly, I have remained injury-free for the vast majority of that time.
These workout buckets distill those 35 years of experience, plus the many books and published studies I’ve read on the topic, into an organized, easy-to-navigate methodology.
There are so many workout trends that it is sometimes challenging for people to know which workout to do and how to best invest our precious time. My solution for that is to organize workouts into groups and then balance workout portions.
Are you ready to start grouping workouts?
First I’ll list my workout buckets, and then we’ll cover each one briefly. Once we’ve organized workout types, we’ll be able to circle back and talk about workout portions.
In future articles, we can dive into each of these buckets in more detail …. and if you’d like to learn more right now, check out my recent book The Busy Woman’s Guidebook to Vibrant Vitality, there is a chapter about movement (plus lot of fast techniques for more energy).
The Workout Buckets:
1. Body in Motion
2. Pelvic Floor Strength
3. Strength Training (thats general strength training)
6. Mobility & Balance
If you are new to fitness and that sounds like a long list, take a deep breath and remind yourself that we start with one step and then we take another and one day, looking back we can be amazed at how far we’ve come. Allow yourself to build a foundation and give yourself permission to celebrate every time you move your body with loving intentions.
If you are a seasoned recreational athlete, you may be wondering why I didn’t include more categories. To that I’d say that most activities can be neatly organized into one of these 8 categories. For example, core work can be done as part of strength training or as part of cardio depending on what you are doing to work your core.
If it feels right for your body, your current fitness level, and your time budget, aim to fit in 3 or more of these buckets over the course of a two-week time period. If you can do more, great. If you can’t carve out the time right now, just take a deep breath and remind yourself that five minutes is better than zero minutes.
Are you ready to dive into the first workout type?
Body in Motion
Body in Motion includes all the small choices we make each day. If we park our cars a little bit further from the destination so we can get in a little bit of extra walking. If we ride our bikes for fun around the block, or if we ride our bike with purpose as our mode of transportation.
Body in Motion means being cognizant of your posture as you are sitting, standing, or walking throughout your day. Body in Motion includes dancing in the privacy of our living room to our favorite song. Body in Motion includes taking a walk with friends to connect and catch up.
What else could body in motion mean in your life?
Pelvic Floor Strength
Before we dive any further into this particular workout bucket, I want to give you a heads up that we will be talking about our female anatomy during this one workout type.
Our pelvic floor muscles can be out of sight, out of mind, but peeing in your pants is no fun. Statistics are not on our side as we age if we don’t strengthen those muscles. It’s worth it to give some attention to your pelvic floor strength now.
These are the muscles that control continence (that’s bladder AND bowel). Can you see how your body would benefit from giving these muscles a few minutes of focus on a regular basis?
One well known technique for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is the
Kegel. I’ll share the best tips I’ve learned in a future article. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more right now, you can check out Amy Stein, MPT, who is a well-recognized expert on this topic.
The 3rd workout type is Strength Training (now we are talking about strength training in general).
I resisted incorporating strength training into my routine for a surprisingly long time given what I know about the benefits. I resisted because even though I knew logically it wouldn’t be possible, I held onto an irrational concern that if I lifted weights I’d end up looking like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you are feeling resistant, I completely empathize.
Strength training is incredibly important for women, especially as we age. It matters for our bone density and it matters so we can prevent muscle loss. It has also been shown to provide an increase in metabolic rate, which is super-helpful for weight loss and long term weight controls.
I personally like to budget time 2-3 days per week to get in a short strength training workout.
Cardio is a common term used to refer to workouts that provide cardiovascular conditioning. This “cardio” category is a catchall for workouts like aerobics, marching in place, running, swimming, cycling, hiking, jumping rope, dance class, spin class, playing soccer, HIIT training- which is high intensity interval training, and so much more. There are a lot of options for cardiovascular conditioning, so choose one that is right for your current level and build your way into fitness.
If you ever find yourself less enthusiastic about your cardio, consider exploring options until you find one that you enjoy.
Short on time? Remember five minutes is better than zero minutes.
Flexibility and Mobility & Balance
The next two workout types we are going to talk about are the 5th bucket which is flexibility and the 6th bucket, which is mobility and balance.
Flexibility can include stretching and foam rolling. Yoga fits well into both the flexibility and balance (and more buckets too depending on which style you are practicing). In addition to yoga, another balance and mobility workout is Tai Chi.
If you are interested in reading a book on mobility, The Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett is a thorough resource.
Oxygen is ESSENTIAL to our wellness. Use breath as a tool to fuel your body well. It’s free (at least it is now and for the foreseeable future), and it doesn’t take up a lot of time. The return on your time investment is so huge. Breathe on purpose and often, and know you are doing something wonderful for yourself.
Recovery is Part of the Workout
If our goal is Vibrant Vitality and long-term wellness, then recovery is a MUST.
Whether you want to call it rest, repair, rejuvenation, or recovery if you are moving your body regularly, build this into your plan.
How do we measure if the workout portions are well balanced?
When it comes to the proportions of your portions, that will be individual based on your current fitness level and time budget… but here’s a guideline for you….
Depending on your current fitness level and time budget, aim to invest some time in three or more of these buckets within a 2-week long time frame. Can you do more, yes. But when we are super-tight on time, that isn’t always possible.
Since guilt and stress are absolutely not the path to Vibrant Vitality, be kind to yourself. Do what you can, and when you simply cannot budget the time, remind yourself that five minutes is better than zero minutes.
Well-balanced workouts are a great way to fuel your body well and support your Vibrant Vitality!
Here’s wishing you joyful and effortless movement that furthers you on your wellness path!