Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, have more energy or improve your overall fitness, a well-rounded exercise training program is essential. According to the Centers for Disease Control, adults need to incorporate muscle-strengthening activities into their routine at least twice a week and should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday: Aerobic Fitness
Aerobic exercise is the cornerstone of most exercise programs. During aerobic exercise, you breathe more deeply and faster, which increases the amount of oxygen in the blood. Increasing your aerobic fitness helps the heart work more efficiently and increases the oxygen in the body, making it easier to do physical tasks without becoming fatigued or winded. Make getting 50 minutes of aerobic exercise your priority on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can walk, bike, jog, swim, dance or do any other activity that gets your heart pumping. If 50 minutes of straight cardio training is too difficult, break the time into more manageable pieces and get exercise throughout the day. For example, you can walk the dog for 30 minutes in the morning and go for a 20-minute bike ride in the evening.
Tuesday and Thursday: Strength Training
Muscular fitness is the other major component of a well-rounded exercise program. Focusing on strength twice a week helps increase muscle tone, mass and bone strength. Concentrate on lower-body muscles on Tuesdays. At the gym, do leg presses, leg extensions, cable abductions or leg curls. At home, do sets of squats, wall squats and lunges. Build your upper-body muscles on Thursdays. At the gym, do bench presses, dumbbell flies or barbell presses. At home, do sets of pushups or use free weights for curls and other exercises. If you don't have weights at home, improvise by using cans of food or plastic bottles filled with sand.
Monday and Friday: Core Strength Training
Core strength training is the last element of a well-rounded exercise routine. The core muscles in the abdomen, pelvis and lower back connect the lower and upper body and help protect the back. Strengthen them after your cardio workout on Mondays and Fridays by doing crunches, planks, ab presses or working with an exercise ball.
Monday Through Friday: Stretching
Stretching improves flexibility and reduces your risk of injury during a workout. Make stretching part of your routine every day to build fitness and stay safe. Do dynamic stretches -- stretches that mimic the workout or sport you are about to perform -- like leg lifts and walking lunges, before your workout. This warm-up loosens muscles and prepares the body for exercise. Finish every workout with static stretches -- stretches that cause tension in the muscle that is being stretched -- like hamstring or chest stretches.
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.