Training for a fun run or trying for a squat PB? Preparing for your first triathlon or aiming for a headstand in yoga? No matter what your fitness goals, you need a roadmap to get there. By incorporating these five essential elements, you’ll cover your bases – cardio fitness, muscular endurance, flexibility, balance and postural corrections. So you can run faster, lift heavier, jump higher, go longer and continue making progress. Let’s go!

Perfect Workout 101: Fitness is more than just cardio

When you think ‘fit’ you probably think of running a 5km without stopping or swimming laps at pace, or even a hard-fought game of tennis without puffing. But fitness is so much more than just cardiovascular endurance (although that’s one of our key elements). True fitness encompasses muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, balance and rehab to correct any weak areas. So your perfect workout will incorporate all these elements too. Here’s how you start.

Step One: Cardio Fitness

Schedule sessions to build your cardio endurance. If your goal is a faster 5km, incorporate sprint sessions or tempo runs. If your goal is your first half-marathon, mark your diary for slower, longer runs to build your cardio base. If you don’t have a specific event to train for, walking at pace is brilliant for the heart, lungs and mental state!

Add two or three sessions and try to progress each week – a little longer, a little faster, or a little more intensity.

Step Two: Muscular Fitness

A combo of strength plus endurance signals muscular fitness. So incorporate some high-exertion efforts plus some volume sessions to increase strength and resist fatigue. If you’re training in the gym, you might schedule a heavy leg day with less reps and a mid-weight volume day with lighter weights and more reps. If you’re training for a triathlon, add a sprint session in the pool coupled with some hard/easy repeats to test your limits.

Add two or three strength training sessions per week, a mix of heavy and higher volume.

Step Three: Flexibility

Flexibility is not just about being able to do the splits or nail a backbend in yoga. Increasing your range of movement through your joints is key to long-lasting fitness. You’ll be stronger, resist injury and move more efficiently if you maintain and advance your flexibility. 

Book in a weekly session to move mindfully with your body – yoga, barre or pilates are great options.

Step Four: Balance

One of the greatest injury risks as we age is falls, from lack of balance and joint stability. In one of life’s cases of ‘use it or lose it’, we need to practise and extend our bodies’ abilities to balance, pivot quickly and stabilise when we’re knocked off kilter. Incorporate exercises such as hopping, single leg balance, single leg squats, ice skaters and tai chi.

Add these exercises into your weekly strength training session. Or extend your cardio warm up with some hopping, single leg squats and bird dogs.

Step 5: Rehab / Prehab

Whether you’re working on correcting an injury or preventing one from happening, make sure you focus on your weaknesses. You can run all week and hit the gym hard, but if your glutes don’t fire or your lower back is weak, you’ll never achieve your full potential.

Great options for runners are hip and glute activations such as single leg bridge or clam shells. Swimmers might incorporate shoulder and back strengthening such as supermans. New mums can add core and back exercises to help combat the neck strain of breastfeeding or carrying your new bub. 

Schedule specific rehab exercises based on your goal. Dynamic stretching and foam rolling can help with recovery too.



So how might your perfect workout plan look?

  • Monday – Cardio session + balance
  • Tuesday – Strength training + rehab
  • Wednesday – Cardio session + balance
  • Thursday – Flexibility
  • Saturday – Strength training + rehab
  • Sunday – Cardio (get out with the fam for a walk, swim or ride!)

You’ll incorporate all five elements of true fitness, challenge your body and smash your goals. 

Aim to get a little faster, stronger and more flexible each week and your fitness will advance in leaps and bounds. And so will you!

Courtney Robinson

Courtney Robinson  

Courtney Robinson is a Gold Coast mum, passionate foodie, whole foods recipe creator and personal trainer certified in holistic digestive health and nutrition. Follow @athletist_ or visit athletist.com.au for recipes, workout tips and training hacks.