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A Basic Fitness Plan

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds

Fitness often denotes overall physical health rather than a specific area, such as cardiovascular strength, muscle endurance or flexibility. To improve your overall fitness, a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility training is your best bet. Having a plan to coordinate your workouts will get you on your way to achieving your desired fitness level.

Step 1

Incorporate strength training into your fitness plan. Improving your muscle strength can improve your sports performance, exercise capacity and ability to perform daily activities. According to the Wellness Council of America, more than 100 million workdays are lost to U.S. companies each year due to lower back pain. Targeting your upper and lower body and core/trunk area with specific exercises can help you avoid this common pain. Target your upper body muscles with biceps curls, triceps extensions, bench presses, chin-ups, pull-ups and push-ups. Alternate which muscles you work to prevent fatigue. For your lower body, include squats, lunges, dead lifts, calf raises and other lower leg exercises, alternating muscle groups. You can use machines, resistance bands, dumbbells, free weights or your own body weight for these exercises. Work your stomach and abdominal muscles with crunches, leg raises, sit-ups, bicycle kicks and other exercises targeting your upper and lower abs, obliques and stomach muscles.

Step 2

Include an aerobic exercise schedule in your plan to burn fat and improve cardiovascular fitness. Aerobic fitness activities can include jogging, skating, skipping rope, cycling, swimming, stairs, rowing or dancing. You can also use exercise machines like ellipticals, treadmills or stationary bikes to get an aerobic workout or attend classes at your local fitness center.

Step 3

Vary your workouts with cross-training. Cross-training challenges muscles in new ways and can keep you from getting bored with your routine. Tennis, for example, provides neither the muscle-building of strength training or the fat-burning of aerobics, but because of its high-intensity and frequent recovery periods, it will train your body's reactive power and recovery systems.

Step 4

Improve your flexibility by stretching before or after your workouts. You can also add activities like Pilates and yoga into your routine. These activities incorporate strength and flexibility into one workout. Both activities also focus on breathing and precise form so they can be great choices if you have high amounts of stress or tension in your back and neck.

Step 5

Create a daily schedule and write it down, creating a chart, if you desire. This will help you coordinate your workouts. Your fitness plan should alternate exercise types and muscles worked. An good fitness plan might look like this: Monday: Strength training (upper body) Tuesday: Aerobic exercise Wednesday: Strength training (lower body) Thursday: Aerobic exercise Friday: Strength training (core/trunk) Saturday: Aerobic exercise Sunday: Tennis or cycling sprints If you'd like to combine strength and aerobic work into one session, you might try: Monday: Strength training (upper body)/aerobics Tuesday: Strength training (lower body/core)/aerobics Wednesday: Tennis or cycling sprints Thursday: Strength training (upper body/core)/aerobics Friday: Strength training (lower body)/aerobics Saturday: Tennis or cycling sprints Sunday: Rest Depending on what type of fitness you desire, you might emphasize certain types of workouts.

Warning

  • For your safety, check with your doctor before adding new activities to your exercise routine. You may need to avoid certain exercises if you are pregnant, recovering from an injury or have been diagnosed with certain illnesses.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.