3 Steps to a Balanced Exercise Program

Often when someone is first considering starting an fitness program, the hardest thing is trying to figure out what to do. A well balanced fitness program needs to have 3 major components: strength training, conditioning (aerobic component) and mobility/flexbility. Whether your goal is to play a better game of golf, lose weight, increase your endurance – all three of these components need to be included if you are to reach your goal. Let’s take a look at each individual component:

Strength Training – lift some weights – no way around it. Weights build strong muscles = leaner body = easy to maintain a healthy weight and ensures strong bones:

iweight traiing

  • Free Weight based – use dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, body weight
    • Do not use machine – no core engagment; isolates, does not integrate
    • Use complex, multi-joint exercises (squats, lunges, deadlifts, push ups, pull ups)
    • Perform minimum of 2-3 times per week
    • Monitor loads; increase weights as exercise becomes easy. Do not stay with the same weights indefinitely.
    • No changes in weight used = no response by the muscles = no change to the body

      Conditioning: – often termed “aerobics”. Increases cardiovascular conditioning, buildings strong heart muscles = increase stroke volume = lower resting heart


    • No such things as “fat burning zone”
    • Fat burning zone – example of old technology and outdated science
    • Fat Burning zone – only good for those very new to exercise and need to “build a base”
    • Conditioning workouts about intensity – get the heart rate up
    • Some examples are: kettlebell swings, jump squats, skipping rope, mountain climbers, treadmill work – endless combinations can be strung together to create a workout.

      Must work to create the EPOC Effect. EPOC = excess postexercise oxygen consumption. This means that the intensity was high enough during the workout to create an oxygen debt.

      As Dr. Len Kravitz explains, “During EPOC the body is restoring itself to its pre-exercise state, and thus is consuming oxygen at an elevated rate. This means that energy is also being expended at an elevated rate”.

      Studies have shown that resistance training elevates EPOC for upwards of 24-48 hours after training.

      Steady state cardio (fat burning zone) does not elevate EPOC, so once your cardio session is done, you are done burning calories. In order to elevate EPOC, you must be working at an intensity high enough to create this oxygen debt.


    ankle circles

    Mobility through the joints must be maintained. Often joint mobility is lost as we age and also due to injury and inactivity. Mobility drills to increase ROM though all major joints (hips, ankles, thoracic spine) should be included in all exercise programs.

    Flexibility throughout all muscle groups must be assessed. If muscles are tight, these should be addressed with a well directed stretching program. Not all muscles will necessarily need to be stretched.


    Flexibility and mobility testing need to be done prior to the start of an exercise program and if deficiences or asymmetries are present, these need to be addressed within the workout program.

    Strength, cardiovascular conditioning, mobility/flexibility – the three components of a well balanced exercise program – will ensure that you are covering all the bases when embarking on a fitness program.

    Till next time,

    “Monitoring, Mentoring, Motivation”

  • References: Dr.Len Kravits, PHD., Associate Professor Exercise Science, The University of Mexico

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