Fitness Exercise Routines & Programs

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all exercise plan. Personal goals, body type, lifestyle and fitness level determine the ideal workout program, which should include exercises for muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular fitness, coordination, balance and flexibility. Consider a professional fitness assessment before planning an exercise routine. A certified instructor can indicate the postural issues and muscular imbalances that prevent you from reaching your goals, and suggest exercises to remedy those problems.

Weight Loss Routines

Weight loss motivates many people to begin a regular exercise program. The best weight loss exercise routines combine aerobic workouts with resistance training. Aerobic exercise burns calories, but resistance training elevates your metabolic rate. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days of the week. Consider longer sessions if you have a significant weight problem, and alternate high-impact exercises such as running with low-impact exercise such as fast walking, elliptical machines and step aerobics. Perform three weekly strength training workouts, exercising all major muscle groups. Do two sets of 12 repetitions.

Muscle Toning

Muscle building, toning and defining require resistance training. Dumbbells, barbells and weight training machines provide the most intense muscle workouts, but body weight and resistance band exercises are also effective. Perform four to eight repetitions at a heavy weight for muscle building, and three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions with a lighter weight for muscle toning. Since resistance is lighter during body weight and band exercises, you can increase to three sets of 15 repetitions. Spot reduction is a myth. Perform 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week. Reducing your body fat makes your muscular development more visible.

Sport-Specific Training

When planning a sport-specific exercise program, consider your sport’s biomechanical and metabolic demands. Compare, for example, alpine and Nordic skiing. Both require balance and coordination, but alpine skiers spend a considerable amount of time waiting for chairlifts, whereas Nordic skiers earn their turns by climbing uphill. Both athletes require aerobic exercise, but the Nordic skier benefits from aerobic endurance.

Optimal sport-specific training programs also incorporate rotary and linear exercises that simulate the sport’s movement patterns. An article in the December 1990 edition of “Physical Therapy Journal” detailed the dynamic pattern theory of motor learning. Author J.P. Scholz, PhD, PT, of the University of Delaware, described the neurological basis for sports conditioning, and explained that the brain is more efficient at memorizing movement patterns than it is at muscle isolation exercises. Golf is an example. It requires strong oblique muscles, but a standing “wood chop” exercise provides more effective training than a supine oblique curl.

Post-Rehab Exercise Routines

While physical therapists usually prescribe exercises for a specific injury, trainers specializing in post-rehab exercise like to “look beyond the site of the crash.” This implies analyzing the postural and muscular imbalances that might have caused the injury, and developing a proactive plan to prevent re-injury. Ankle injuries are an example. They cause a loss of proprioception, which is the body’s awareness of its position in space. A post-rehab exercise program might include balance and proprioception exercise, but it might also deal with the improper pelvic placement that created the faulty movement patterns, which in turn caused the injury. Post-rehab exercise programs also involve strengthening the weaker muscles and stretching the body’s stronger, over-compensating muscles. A trainer may suggest stretching your quadriceps by lying prone on a foam roller, and strengthening your hamstrings with the stability ball leg curl.

About this Author

Lisa Marie Mercer has been a professional writer for nearly 10 years. She has authored “Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness,” “Breckenridge: A Guide to the Sights and Slopes of Summit County” and “101 Fitness Tips for Women.” She’s worked as a fitness professional, tour guide and ski resort employee. Her work has appeared in “Aspen Magazine,” “HerSports,” “The Professional Skier,” “Pregnancy Magazine” and “Wired.”