The Pillars of Fitness
Updated: Mar 2
Although everyone's fitness journey looks different, there are helpful guides to follow in order to have a well-rounded routine that will help you maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle. And with all of the information out there, it can be overwhelming deciding on which direction to a take. We break it down for you step-by-step, to help you achieve that healthy lifestyle you have always wanted.
First, especially if you are new to fitness, focus on small, solid, realistic goals. Next, decide the best ways you can make healthy changes that fit into your unique life and schedule. Finally, for well-rounded fitness routine, follow what is called: the five pillars of fitness: strength, endurance, mobility, body composition and lifestyle.
First things first, strength. This is where free weights, machines and body weight all come into play. Each of these creates resistance in your exercise routine which then trains your muscles and stimulates muscle growth. Strength will not only help increase your metabolism, you will see (and feel!) your body composition begin to change as well as your overall mobility and stability.
These are all great things! The problem is, many people aren’t quite sure where to begin with the strength part of their healthy lifestyle journey. One place to begin is getting in with a personal trainer who can help guide you with the strength routine that best fits your fitness level.
A beginner's strength training routine might look a little like this: choose an exercise at a weight level high enough to hit 12 - 15 repetitions. Begin with a 20- to 30-minute strength training session, two to three times per week hitting full body and focusing on both compound movements (movements that target larger muscle groups such as squats, dumbbell shoulder press, chest presses, lunges and pushups); and single muscle movements (triceps extensions, bicep curls, leg extensions and hamstring curls). As your strength increases (which it will!), you can then start to slowly increase weight, repetitions and sets.
If brisk walking, jogging, hiking, running, swimming or even climbing is something you enjoy doing, then you are building muscle endurance at its finest. Muscle endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to perform repetitive contractions against a force for an extended period of time.
Building muscular endurance is important to creating a well-rounded fitness regimen. Why? Focusing on muscular endurance can increase your cardiovascular health, help with weight management, your overall body composition, mood and you may find yourself sleeping like a baby through the night. So yes, it has benefits to better sleep, too.
But not too fast - building endurance takes time, so start with slowly increasing your time and speed to train your body. For example, tell yourself you are going to walk the dog for 10 minutes. Then as the weeks go by, begin adding time to that goal. Before you know, you and your pup will be running the neighborhood.
Also keep in mind, the greater your muscular endurance, the higher number of repetitions you could complete in your weight training sessions, too.
Now let’s talk about mobility. A stronger mobility focus has been pushed more and more amongst fitness professionals because over the years, we have realized the important role it plays in your overall fitness - it is not just a fitness fad. Try reaching your hands overhead or performing a basic squat. Your mobility has a lot to do with how far you can squat and extend your arms over above your shoulders. If mobility is something you failed to focus on over the years, don’t fret. It is never too late to begin to improve it, just as the other important pillars of fitness.
Mobility exercises help increase the range of movements and motions your body can perform. These include flexibility, balance, pliability and strength. The best thing you can do for your body is to combine all of this for injury prevention, improvement in your muscle’s range-of-motion and the joints they control.
Some ways you can improve mobility is to strengthen the muscles that control and stabilize your joints. In time, this will increase your range-of-motion to allow you to reach those other pillars of fitness: strength and endurance, or exercise all together.
Some great mobility exercises include body weight exercises such as walking lunges and myofascial release (foam-rolling, yoga and controlled dynamic stretching, for example). Incorporate these kinds of movements into your warm-ups and active recovery/cool down after your workouts.
Your body composition refers to the percentage of fat, water, bone, muscle, skin and other lean tissues that make up the body. While checking your weight on the scale can be helpful for seeing your total weight, it doesn’t tell you the composition of your body. Body composition refers to the percentage of your body weight that is composed of fat compared to lean mass. Therefore, looking at body composition goes beyond a number on a scale, and tells you the actual source of that weight, which is a great thing to live by. So what does body composition actually say about your health?
A lot, actually. Let's say that your weight is now at a healthy range for your height, but you have a high body fat percentage. This can actually bring adverse consequences to your health. It is better to have a healthy body composition which would mean that a majority of your weight is coming from lean body mass, including muscle tissue. This may make you look at the scale a bit differently now, which isn’t a bad thing.
The best way to improve your body composition is with good nutrition and exercise. Keeping your calories, fiber and protein in check is a good first step to take. Keep in mind that although all exercise can help with fat loss, weight training is the best way to increase muscle mass.
If we told you that rest is just as important as exercise would you believe us? To complete a healthy lifestyle, properly fueling and resting is the final step. In addition, staying consistent with your workouts, sleep and eating habits are all important aspects to achieving a healthier lifestyle.
Sleep helps in the recovery process after a successful exercise and training day. If you take rest out of the equation, you are increasing your risk of getting injured plus your workouts will be less and less efficient. On days you are not training or doing hard cardio, think active recovery such as light and easy walks with the family, and simply moving around and staying mobile and active throughout the day.
Eat wholesome, healthy foods. You can workout every day, but if you are eating badly, it will be very difficult to reach any of your fitness goals and you might as well throw your body composition out the window. You will also notice a slower recovery time, too.
Take deep breaths. Complete your good lifestyle habits by controlling your stress levels and finding great relaxation methods (yoga anyone?) and rest days marked on the calendar, and you are on your way to an overall healthier you.
Get started with a personal trainer at Trainers Spot to jump-start your healthy lifestyle. Your trainer will not only go over your fitness goals and design an exercise regimen that is just right for you, but your training sessions will also include an InBody scan to track your body fat, improving body composition, and more - watch your progress soar!