Defining a Basic Fitness Routine


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By Alex C. Smith, NSCA-CSCS

When thinking about what a “basic” fitness routine should consist of, we should first identify our objective. The main goal of exercise is to improve your overall health and longevity through positive stress. By purposefully subjecting your body to stress, you adapt. With exercise we can decrease pain and improve our body’s function in daily life. Exercise also has a positive impact on our mental health. We’ll focus on how to prioritize your exercise regimen.

What to focus on:

  • Decrease sedentary behaviors

  • Exercise 150 – 300 minutes each week, (HHS Releases Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition.)

  • Complete a proper warm up

  • Design your own routine around the fundamental movements

  • Prioritize compound movements over isolation exercises

  • Switch up your routine (sets, reps, exercises, and exercise modality) to keep it fun

One of the most effective and applicable way to increase your physical activity and health is by reducing sedentary activity. Simply standing or walking more you will increase your daily expenditure of calories and help you improve your overall health.

When working out we should be conscious of what movements are the MOST important. All human movement can be broken down into fundamental movements such as squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull and rotation. Each of these can be thought of as a heading under which all other exercises fall under. We should also start our workouts with the compound exercises as they will burn more calories, allow the use of more weight, and most importantly, improve your overall muscle function.

It’s important to note that there is not one way to exercise. We live in an environment that has variety in just about everything. Making sure you find activities you enjoy and that you can push yourself to improve your fitness each week is important. Try a yoga class, learn something new from a personal trainer, or do your own research to find a program that works for you. Consistency is key. It’s not always about how hard you push yourself in the gym, it’s about understanding how hard it is to be consistent with yourself. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans is published every 2 years by the US Government to help people live more healthy, and active lives.

Unsure of where to start? Work with LifeStart’s certified personal trainers and health coaches to find a basic fitness routine that works for you!

References: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “HHS Releases Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition.”, US Department of Health and Human Services, 12 Nov. 2018,

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