Staci Alden by Staci Alden

With 2020 creeping into the rear-view mirror, it’s time to start thinking about how to make movement consistent, holistic and enjoyable in 2021! The key to a successful year of movement comes down to understanding and planning. Before jumping into a weekly workout, let’s first identify five aspects of a multicomponent fitness program and get in touch with what kind of exercise gets you fired up to move.

These five training components should be a part of every workout plan in order to prevent injury and live your healthiest life.

1. Muscular Training

Increasing overall muscular fitness and lean mass (muscles, bones, connective tissue ) is essential to living a long, healthy life. Fit muscles make it possible to do everything from carrying heavy groceries to moving a couch or jumping off a curb. Building and maintaining muscle mass also increases the body’s resting metabolic rate, which means your muscles burn more calories when you are at rest. This added metabolic benefit can also help you maintain a healthy body weight.

2. Cardiorespiratory Training

Moving your body at a faster pace with regular cardiorespiratory exercise such as brisk walking, cycling or even dancing challenges the heart and lungs to control blood pressure, increase circulation and strengthen the immune system. The best exercise is the one you will do consistently, so choose an activity that you enjoy.

3. Core Training

A functional core aids in balance postural stability and limb mobility as well as strength and endurance in the muscles of the shoulders and hips  and the  front, back and sides of the trunk. Enhancing the fitness of the muscles that support the trunk  has also been shown to be an effective way to support low-back  health.

4. Mobility Training

Maintaining adequate mobility is essential for avoiding injury in both sport and life. Mobility training can help keep your connective tissue and muscles limber enough to move your joints through their full range of motion with a balance of strength and integrity.

5. Awareness and Rest

While it may be tempting to set ambitious goals at the start of a new year, it’s important to include plenty of time for rest and recovery as well. Listen to your body and rest when necessary to avoid burnout and overtraining.

Identify Your Favorite Workout Environment

Now is the time to get really honest with yourself and identify the activities and environments you truly enjoy. Take a look at the questions below to help get in touch with what kind of exerciser you are. You might answer yes to more than one, which will make it easy for you to mix up the workouts you try. The goal is to identify workouts you will actually look forward to doing on a regular basis.

Do you love to move to the music?

  • Music-based strength classes such as BodyPump or BodyWorks can be easily found online and in a gym.
  • Dance classes and indoor cycling classes are a great form of music-driven cardiorespiratory training.

Do you enjoy a little competition?

  • Seek out online or gym-based fitness challenges occurring in the new year.
  • Find a short race or a fun run in your area and sign up.

Do you enjoy working out on your own?

  • Find a personal trainer who can build a program for you to do on your own. Schedule in-person sessions so the trainer can check in on your form and progress.
  • For cardio training, consider downloading one of the many audio coaching apps currently available, which make it easy to increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of a run or walk.

Do you need a cheerleader to help keep you going?

  • Attend classes that include the fitness components mentioned earlier. Group fitness instructors are typically excellent motivators, while also offering effective and fun workouts for a variety of fitness levels.
  • If exercising in a class with other people doesn’t appeal to you, hire a personal trainer or try some online classes to help build your confidence while also creating accountability.

Make a Plan

Your 2021 fitness goal is just a wish if you don’t have a plan. Now that you know about the components that make up a well-rounded fitness plan and taken time to reflect on what gets you motivated, it’s time to build a weekly workout plan. Don’t feel obligated to match a specific day of the week to the movement suggestion provided below; a specific workout might have to wait until the next seven days of the week and that is O.K. The most common reason people stop a routine is because they fall out of it one day and feel like they must wait seven days to get back to the beginning again. Allow yourself some flexibility and rid yourself of all-or-nothing thinking.

Sample Weekly Workout Plan

Here is a very basic plan to get you started in planning your 2021 routine. Feel free to replace days that involve cardio with dance or a cardio group fitness class instead of the suggested workouts.

Daily warm-up

  • Reverse lunge with a twist
  • Monster walks
  • Ankle rolls and arm circles
  • Walk outs to kneeling push-up
  • Jumping jacks (start with low-impact and gradually progress to high-impact, if appropriate)

Day 1: Full-body strength circuit (perform 10-15 repetitions of each exercise; complete 3-5 rounds)

  • Squats
  • Bent-over rows
  • Biceps curl to overhead press
  • Push-up to superman
  • Supine bicycle crunch

Day 2: 30-60 minutes sustained cardio

  • Dance class
  • Walk or jog
  • Bike ride

Day 3: Mobility, core and mind/body

  • Pilates mat class
  • All-levels vinyasa yoga or gentle flow yoga
  • Simple stretches performed while listening to a pre-recorded meditation:
    • Supine twist and hold
    • Pigeon stretch or seated figure-4 stretch
    • Butterfly stretch
    • Legs up a wall

Day 4: Full-body strength circuit (Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, with 30 seconds of rest in between; complete 3-5 rounds)

  • Reverse lunge
  • Triceps dips on a bench or chair
  • Alternating step-ups on a step, bench or chair
  • Side plank
  • Supermans

Day 5: 20-45 minutes medium- to high-intensity cardio intervals (Alternate 1-2 minutes of work and 1 minute of rest)

  • Indoor cycling class
  • Hill or stair repeats (run up a hill and recover while walking back down)
  • Swimming intervals

If there is anything that 2020 has taught us, a workout doesn’t need to happen in the gym to be effective. If working out in a facility is not for you, research fitness apps or videos with classes or private sessions offered by certified health and exercise professionals. Now work this 2021 fitness plan into your life and get moving!