• Ben Yates

How to get well-rounded fitness for life

Updated: Jan 17

I've talked to hundreds of people over my career as a personal trainer about their health and fitness.

The overwhelming majority of them want a well-rounded body and a fitness level that enables them to be pretty good at most things.

In other words, they want to be lean, strong, resilient and able.

Think strong and muscular but not a bodybuilder.

A good, comfortable 10k runner but not a high-level marathon runner.

Able to sprint with the kids without pulling up with a torn hamstring.

Get out of bed pain-free in the morning but not practise yoga for hours a day.

Lose the belly fat and look good naked but without the

In other words, most people want to be balanced. It's not about being the best, but being good enough.

Most of us would benefit from becoming more resilient and well-rounded. We’d love to be able to respond to any given situation or challenge.

For example, wouldn’t it be great to have the capacity to run a 5k and then go and do some heavy lifting

at the gym?

Or, maybe you want to play a fast team game at the weekend and then follow it up with a hike in the hills? Whatever you enjoy, it pays to be ready for it.

Do everything, don't specialise

Most of us tend to lean towards what we enjoy and what we think we are good at.

Be that endless cardio, a bodybuilder split in the weights room, speed work or some other sport. However, to be primed for any activity, you need to expand and improve upon each training aspect. For the improvements to occur, you also need to consider and implement a recovery protocol.

There’s no point in overexerting yourself during every single training session and then not allowing your body and mind sufficient, quality recovery time. What follows is a simple system that will help you to achieve one pillar of total wellbeing and longevity. A system that is designed to fit perfectly into your busy lifestyle. The beauty of it is that it is totally flexible and can be suited to your needs. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

All-round fitness programme

Long Duration Endurance – Once or twice a week When we think about endurance training, we’re talking about the ability of our heart, lungs and blood vessels to provide our muscles with oxygen for a sustained period. Our suggestion is that you perform an activity that challenges your cardiovascular system for 30 mins of low to mid-level exertion, performed without a rest period.

You shouldn’t feel exhausted after your session. We want your heart rate to remain between 60 to 80% of your max which, if you don't use a tracking device, is aimed at 3-5 on the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (see below).

Rate of Perceived Exertion helps you figure out how hard you're exercising

If your sessions are longer than 30 minutes, aim for a reduced heart rate. Activities such as biking, rowing, running, hiking or football would be suitable here.

Speed – At least once a week Research suggests that keeping your fast-twitch muscle fibres active and ready allows you to age well. However, those whose fast-twitch fibres decline through lack of use become frail, less mobile, and liable to crippling falls. You can help prevent this by complementing your strength sessions by training speed and power. I like to recommend as a minimum doing 5-10 minutes of speed work, at least once every week. This could be a standalone session or you could combine it with your strength session. After a thorough warm-up, do your speed and power work first. Go for 2 to 4 exercises such as sprints, box jumps, clap push-ups and ball slams. If you prefer to swim, try 15 to 25 metres as quickly and as powerfully as you can. 2-4 sets of 3-5 reps is an ample amount with as much rest as you need in between sets to be able to perform at a similar level in your next set. Your speed wo