What does a complete fitness program look like?

It depends on who's asking the question, and what their specific needs are.

You already know that MyFitnessRoad.com is home to the Sensible Fitness Program – Al's best solution.

On this page, I'm going to show you why it's a complete fitness program – and how you can go about creating your own best program.

In essence, the sensible way holds that a complete fitness program should allow superior levels of functional and health-related fitness along with excellent physical condition year-round–supported by a practical efficient exercise regimen, and a nutritious but enjoyable eating plan.

No 'one' program is a complete fitness solution for everyone

So many people search the Web in earnest for that one perfect complete fitness program. You know, the one that will finally expose the secrets to weight loss or muscle-gain – magically allowing them to reach their goals.

Sorry to tell you – it's not going to happen. 

And along those lines, the Sensible Fitness Program is 'some' and not 'other' people's complete fitness program.

Unlike most Fitness 'Experts', I recognize the individuality-factor as opposed to conveniently using the blanket-approach.

Remember, the Sensible Fitness Program is a 'complete' solution for 'Al', who faces similar challenges to what I once battled.

Although it's a highly-effective program, it is not for everyone. But this doesn't mean that you can't take the program-layout as a cue for structuring yours, if you're somewhat different to Al.  

No online fitness resource worth its salt will ever be able to honestly provide you the 'best' or the 'complete' fitness program, unless engaged as your Personal Fitness Coach, where things can be customized. 

With that important clarification out of the way, let me reveal why the Sensible Fitness Program is complete in the way is serves Al and I.

You can then use the information as a solid basis for your own 'best' or 'complete' fitness program (or you can also request a customized one.)

Why is it my favorite program?

It’s not only because of the physical exercise component which efficiently delivers great results. The associated nutrition plan is flexible enough that I don’t need to spend unnecessary time and effort preparing boring meals that nobody else in the household is going to eat. I don’t eliminate any of my favorite meals or desserts either.  

In short, would you want to spend more time working out and planning your program than entirely necessary? I thought not. 

Why would you want the deck stacked against you?

That’s precisely why this program is ideal for Al and I. Ask us, there's a lot to do during a 24-hour period in our lives.  I do of course need to be organized, but that’s a small price to pay for being able to actually do the program and spend quality time with family and friends. 

For me the results mean that life is sustainably good on all fronts: body, mind and soul. I stay in great shape and feel good. And in turn, by being in a comfortable routine and happy about my condition – I’m motivated to be consistent with the program.  

I’m therefore in charge of my life and fully in touch with my wants, needs and goals. No better way to enjoy an all-round sense of wellbeing.

Can you really follow one program all year-round?

Once or twice per year, I may include other ‘periodizations’ in my training (a fancy word in fitness-speak meaning ‘vary’) to either consolidate my condition, to ‘bulk’ or to ‘cut.’ These last two are oft-used fitness terms, which respectively mean add mass and reduce body fat.  

Although the cutting program gets me down to 7-7.5% body fat, it does require a little planning and monitoring—and the nutrition is a more tricky. The results are rewarding but 'cutting' requires quite a bit of discipline and is really only for those looking for specialized results. 

While I enjoy the occasional challenge of cutting, I absolutely love the Sensible Fitness Program because of its efficiency, the solid returns it provides, and for the flexibility of the nutrition.

More bang for the buck! So yes, with the exception of one or two periodized blocks of around 2-3 weeks per year, I maintain the same program.

Nutrition

The nutrition used with a complete fitness program should allow an eating plan which requires minimal thinking. (With meal planning/prepping, there is a learning curve at first – but before long you’ll see that practice makes perfect.) 

The meals are healthy, variable and enjoyable, as well as affordable. Remember, it’s a ‘sensible’ plan. I don’t know about you, but I would definitely lose interest sooner or later if I were to follow a tedious diet. And if that didn’t do it, then I would surely be put off if I had to fork out lots of cash on supplements beyond what’s necessary.

As for meal-frequency, a complete fitness program should allow variable protocols.

I tend to favor the intermittent fasting (IF) protocol on most days—meaning that I consume all my food for the day between 12h30 and 22h30. On the other hand, when I eat 5-6 meals per day, I have the same meals, except they’re more spread out. 

I don't favor one eating protocol over the other. Both have their advantages and I find each to work just fine for me. However, with time, I have found the advantages with IF to suit my lifestyle more.

My daily consumption averages between 2300 and 2500 calories. I vary the types of carbohydrates, protein and fat sources (with ratios of 40-25-35). Although many in the fitness industry follow uniform eating plans because it’s ‘easier’, humans do need variety. My first 2 meals of the day are usually the same, but I switch the later meals around.

My general approach is to use 80% of my calorie-allowance for wholesome, practical, enjoyable and easy-to-prepare food. The remaining 20% caters (excuse the pun) for pleasure foods. What do I mean by this?

Just listen to your digestive system and brain. Yes, those signals.

That’s why it’s important to get educated about food profiles (meaning their nutritional breakdown). That way you're able to swap food-types, so that you don’t have to always stick with chicken, brown rice and broccoli. And remember, you will regularly dine with other people and in other settings. In such cases, it's good to be able to 'eyeball' food on-the-fly.

With practice, you'll be able to gauge nutritional values and portion-sizes quite reliably. Once you're in touch with your daily needs, you're fully in control. You'll know how to adjust your intake to lose weight, to maintain or to gain.

With this in mind, do you ever think you would want to be locked into a strict eating plan?

Imagine the tedium and frustration you, your friends and your family would experience if you became a one-trick pony. It could happen if you chose to follow one of those fad 'diets.'

I've been there and done that. 

Restrictive = unsustainable = alienation.

'Sensible' is the only way.

Supplements

Notwithstanding some safe and effective supplements on the market - I choose not to use any for the most part. That doesn’t mean I’ve never used supplements. I have experimented with several like CLA, ZMA, Creatine, BCAAs, fatburners, pre-workout formulas etc.  

While I found some of these supplements provided performance and recovery benefits – I didn’t feel that they were effective enough to warrant continued use, especially over the long-term. Again, this is in line with the sensible way – which is the overall approach I adopt to fitness strategies and protocols to make life ‘simpler’ while being fit and healthy.  

Some would argue that a fitness program is incomplete without some form of supplementation. I disagree. If you're like me and your goal is health, physical fitness and a sense of wellbeing, then all you need is real food and an eating plan that comprises the 3 macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat), sufficient water and moderate amounts of dietary fiber.

I really don’t feel that the efficacy of vitamins, antioxidants or fitness supplements is worth the money and daily effort of remembering to use them. This is especially so if you're eating responsibly and consuming quality products from all the food groups.

There’s also something a little unnerving about popping dozens of pills, powders and capsules every day – sometimes multiple times a day. 

Unless I opt to use supplements, like when doing the occasional endurance run, the exception I may make is for creatine or protein (due to the convenience-factor that the powdered versions offer).  

So to be clear, it is not my intention to shoot any of these products down – it's just that the physical exercise and nutrition plan of the sensible fitness program provide me a more-than-adequate and sustainable package – without the reliance on supplements.

Workout Routines

In order to be a complete program, you need to incorporate resistance work (training with weights), as well as cardiovascular exercise into your protocols.

Resistance exercise

In keeping with the spirit of 'complete', the sensible fitness program uses compound resistance exercises (involving multi-joint movements) which form the basis of this complete fitness program. Compound movements target all the major muscle groups with fewer exercises, especially the larger muscles like the gluteus maximus (your behind), quadriceps (thighs), back and chest.  

The advantage of compound exercises is three-fold: the workouts are shorter, more calories are burned during these workouts and there’s more muscle-building potential. And gains in muscle mass mean a faster metabolism, which means more calories get burned – even at rest.  

A true win-win situation!

I do of course alternate exercise types for maximum stimulus, and to alleviate boredom. Yes, your body quickly adapts to what you do.

So if you're a newbie like Al, and want to progress, you need to consistently increase the amount of weight (poundage) you lift over time—otherwise known as ‘progressive resistance.’  

You do however also need to gauge your growth and recovery to know when and how hard to 'step on the gas.' Dabbling at fitness programs will waste your time, going too hard will lead to overtraining.

Each person’s ‘happy medium’ is unique.

Cardiovascular exercise

‘Cardio’ is quite a controversial topic in the fitness industry, particularly when considering body transformations, recompositions and muscle-building. There are opposing opinions on whether or not it should form part of these types of fitness programs. Granted, cardio is not always fun. Some people just can’t bear the repetitive nature of running, cycling or swimming. They may even adjust their daily calorie-intake downwards just so they can avoid cardio.  

You can achieve fantastic physical condition by lifting weights and excluding cardiovascular exercise. But your eating really has to be on point, and you end up foregoing a lot of the health-related benefits which you gain from cardiovascular conditioning. 

I personally prefer cardio and having more calories to play with. Besides, there are several benefits associated with doing cardio, like improved heart-health and metabolic conditioning. Also, it does wonders for recovery from resistance exercise by reducing muscle-soreness and ridding the body of waste products like lactic acid.

Based on the above reasons, I believe that for a fitness program to be complete, it has to include cardiovascular training.

Flexibility exercise

Flexibility should always form part of a complete fitness program. Although the effects of flexibility exercise are largely unseen, including them affords much-needed range-of-motion, balance and coordination. These complimentary aspects of physical fitness are invaluable.

Warming up

When training with weights, I always ensure adequate warm-up prior to a specific muscle group being worked. That means I'll do one light set before the actual working sets. The objective here is to get increased blood flow, particularly to the joint/s, muscle and soft tissue of the area being worked.  

I’ve learned a few useful lessons in the past. Saving two minutes by skipping warm-up sets risks unnecessary pulls, strains or worse. It’s not worth it to skimp on warm-ups. 

Although I don't perform any warm-up activities prior to cardio on the Sensible Fitness Program, the workouts themselves, whether low, medium or high-intensity, begin slowly. So by the time I begin to accelerate the pace, my body is more than sufficiently primed.

Stretching

An important aspect of flexibility is stretching. You'll see that the fitness industry has varying opinions on this. Some pundits say that stretching should be performed before any type of exercise. I disagree for the simple reason that cold joints and muscles are more prone to injury. And I know of several cases where athletes have strained, or even torn muscles in the process. 

My approach is to perform stretching movements after cardio. I simply spend 3-5 minutes post-training to stretch and loosen trained muscles and connective tissue. 

I do a full-body stretch routine, with added focus on the lower body. Cooling down is particularly important after high-intensity sessions, as it helps bring blood circulation down gradually, and reduces lactic acid levels.

Relaxation

Making time for relaxation and active (but enjoyable) leisure activities also contributes greatly to spiritual wellbeing, overall health and functional fitness. As a family, we do a lot of recreational walking, hiking, cycling, swimming and playing games.

In closing

That pretty much sums up why the Sensible Fitness Program is a 'complete' fitness program – and why it's is my go-to solution. 

As you'll appreciate, it isn't possible to be exhaustive on this page, since there are simply too many program design and training aspects to cover in depth. 

However, please feel free to get in touch/or leave any comments you feel are relevant.