Here we're going to take a look at how a 'physical' fitness program is an essential part of overall wellness, and some tips on creating your own best program.
Firstly, why follow a 'physical' fitness program?
It's simple really. The short answer is:
Consistently following a physical fitness program, will get you into good shape and bring you lots of health-related benefits.
Let’s look at some basic considerations and components which you can use to set up or revise your own fitness program. There's also a sample program to help you on your way.
The long answer could take us days, if not weeks to consolidate. Even then, it'll only be of general relevance - because of our unique and individual needs.
What do I mean by this?
You see, my physical fitness needs (or wants) are uniquely mine. I do mostly resistance, cardiovascular and flexibility training. The results are: optimal physique and a high degree of health-related fitness.
But, the next person instead, may want to focus on losing weight.
You, on the other hand, might be interested in bulking. Olympic distance athletes want muscular endurance – and so on.
Therefore, no one physical fitness program can be generalized to all.
And so, a simple definition could look something like this:
A physical fitness program is an integrated regimen of physical activities catering to one or more specific need such as functional, skill-related and/or health-related fitness.
- Note that the term ‘physical fitness’ can be considered a sub-set of fitness, which usually refers to an overall condition. (The fitness definitions page goes into more detail.)
As such, the ‘physical’ part of a fitness program is merely one facet of overall fitness (or wellness). We haven’t even mentioned nutrition, let alone its importance and benefits.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
These topics are covered elsewhere on the Site. This page is going to focus on the physical fitness program in terms of Al’s perspective.
Why do I ‘need’ a physical fitness program?
Because it’s arguably the best thing you can do for your state of health and wellness. And it will reduce your risk of chronic diseases, strengthen your body, and improve your balance and movement – not to mention support weight loss and muscle-gain.
All these go a long way to boosting your morale, self-esteem and confidence – no matter what your age is. But you need to be responsible and consistent to make sure addressing you health and fitness needs. Nobody else can do that for you.
Yes, with all of life's daily challenges, it's tricky staying true to your to-do list AND following your program. But it's so damn worth-it if you can.
What components should a physical fitness program consist of?
Any program worth its salt should deliver on its promise, but that means a clear goal needs to be established up-front. Ask yourself: “What are my personal fitness goals?”
This dictates the program-design, which should include types of exercise, frequency of training, measurability and nutrition. (More about these below.)
How does the term ‘physical fitness’ fit into the realm of overall fitness?
I often asked this in the past, since I like to know I am using fitness terms and definitions correctly.
My research and experience has proven (as you'll see on the fitness definitions page), that there are no hard-and-fast laws governing the use of key terms and definitions in the fitness industry.
‘Fitness’ is normally meant (most likely for sake of convenience) to denote ‘physical fitness’, whereas ‘overall fitness’ includes physical fitness, wellness and wellbeing.
Bottom line: the objective of a physical fitness program is to improve your body’s ability to function effectively and efficiently.
Physical fitness is usually intended to include either the 5 health-related fitness components, or the 6 skill-related fitness components (for sport-specific conditioning).
How ‘complete’ should a physical fitness program be?
As mentioned above, an effective program should deliver the results you chose beforehand, IF you are consistent.
So besides your physical changes, the basic health or skill-related fitness components you desire - you could even incorporate other non-physical elements to get you closer to holistic health/wellness.
You’ll be the one to decide.
How does physical fitness relate to health, skill and other aspects of physical conditioning?
You will have gauged by now that ‘fitness’ is a very general term. Individual needs tend to be highly specific and very different from person-to-person.
So, even as an everyday person, try and cultivate a clear-cut thinking when it comes to improving your personal fitness needs.
- Do I want to change my body or have better health? Or both?
- Do I need specific skills for sport?
- Do I need functional fitness for a particular task, job or activity?
- Do I want to reinforce my muscles, connective tissue and bone-structure - maintain optimal flexibility, posture and balance so I can approach old-age with the best possible health-potential?
These questions will help you design or select your best program along with a complimentary nutrition plan. (The page on fast-twitch muscle fibers details how different training protocols influence the body's adaptation and response.)
To give you some food-for-thought: you can train for power, strength, increased muscular-size (hypertrophy) or endurance. It's impossible to specialize in all these areas, but that doesn't mean you can't employ one or more into your training regimen.
Although it's beneficial health-wise to gain multiple benefits, you can't have your cake and eat it all the time. In the same way, marathoners don't compete in 100 meter races and sprinters don't feature in distance-running.
The diagram below puts this into perspective for you by showing the relationship between the respective metabolic (energy) pathways, and the specific training effects these can potentially provide.
A quick example: if you want to become a bodybuilder, you're going to focus on using your anaerobic energy systems in your workouts more than anything else. This means working from 0 to around 60-75 seconds at full-intensity, usually ending in muscular-failure.
Yes, you may decide to do some cardio using the aerobic (or oxidative) energy system. But this would be of limited frequency and duration, if your goal is to build muscle. It's just the opposite for those who want to build their endurance levels. Instead of short bursts of high-intensity type training - they will concentrate on lower intensity protocols over longer periods.
The take home message is simple: understand the interplay between your energy systems so that you can structure your program appropriately for the results you want.
Who should set up my program?
Either one of two people. It could be you - depending on your knowledge and experience with fitness, and whether you take the trouble to read, research and experiment. Or you could simply approach a fitness expert.
Example of a physical fitness program for health
There are literally tons of programs available online. But remember, an effective regimen should ideally correspond to your specific needs.
The missing link though, is whether you know what you’re doing in terms of identifying the ‘right’ program for you, and using your common sense and discretion in the process.
The sample physical fitness program below is at best an example for improving general levels of fitness.
If you're relatively new to fitness, you could try these protocols, gradually and consistently aiming to increase the intensity and volume of the exercises. You should be constantly considering your particular needs by monitoring your progress and adjusting as necessary as you body becomes accustomed to the training-effect of your workouts.
If you're more experienced, and want a more comprehensive or challenging program, I'm just an email away. Send me a message via the contact page - I'd be happy to help you.
Sample Physical Fitness Program
Aim: TO IMPROVE GENERAL LEVELS OF FITNESS AND PHYSICAL CONDITION
The focus is on optimizing range-of-motion (ROM), balance and coordination by performing stretches after warm-ups or exercise sessions.
The objective is to establish an improved metabolic, heart and lung function, as well as muscular endurance.
The aim is to strengthen muscles, soft tissue and enhance bone-density.
|Flexibility||5-7 times per week||Passive / static stretching|
|Cardio||3-4 times per week (20-30 mins each)||Power walking, cycling, running or swimming|
|Resistance||2-3 times per week||Major compound types (free weights/resistance bands/own bodyweight)|
Before setting out, please make sure you have a medical check-up – especially if you're a first-timer to physical exercise, or if you have any doubts about your health.