Fun with fitness

Julyl 28 S Mike Dee head shot C

BY Mike Dee P.T.

Designing Your Program
Every fitness program has goals: lose weight, strengthen the core, add muscle, become more flexible, improve cardiac strength, run faster, or look good for your daughter’s wedding!
Some of us do one or two different types of exercise: yoga, long walks, hiking, biking, swimming, Pilates, soccer, hockey, and the list goes on. Good for all of you who do this and do it on a regular basis.

A complete program that includes all aspects of physical fitness should start with a good warm up and include core and stabilization exercises, balance and agility, power exercises, strength exercises, and an aerobic activity, followed by stretching. That is a lot; however, you can focus on one or two components with each workout for a very well rounded approach.

Dynamic Warm Up
March in place with high knees, walking butt kicks, hamstring kicks, hip circles, heel raises, light skipping, arm circles, or good old jumping jacks are great ways to increase your heart rate and get your muscles and joints warmed up and ready to perform. Five minutes is adequate for most of us.

Core and Stabilization
These exercises turn on the muscles of your trunk and hips. They typically require little to no movement. Planks, small curl ups, double or single leg stands while pulling an exercise band or pulley are all examples of these exercises. Eight to ten second holds for each exercise is a good measure for five repetitions.

Balance and Agility
Every one of us requires good balance and agility for everyday activities. You have warmed up and stimulated your core muscles, however, you’re not too tired to do precision work. Single leg stands while tossing a soccer ball up and down, single leg stands with eyes closed, balancing on a balance board or Bosu ball are great ways to improve your balance. Agility is improved with grapevine crossover drills, footwork in an agility ladder, and any drill that causes you to move your feet with precision gets results. Give these exercises a few weeks, and you will be amazed at the effect it has on your balance and agility.

Power Exercises
These are quick, explosive movements using bodyweight and very little resistance initially. Jumping up one stair and landing quietly is a safe one to start with. Step back down and repeat five times. Tossing a medicine ball, push-ups with a clap of the hands at the top, hopping forward and backwards are easy and simple maneuvers that require force, distance, and time to equal power. These exercises require a lot of energy and precision. Five to 8 repetitions of three exercises are a good safe start.

Resistance training has four different types of exercise: endurance, hypertrophy (bigger muscles), power, and strength. Beginners should start with endurance exercises using three sets of 10-12 to begin with. Hypertrophy requires much heavier weights, sets and reps. Power exercises with free weights are complex maneuvers. Pure strength exercises are very, very heavy weights with a few reps and sets. These last three require the planning and supervision of a certified personal trainer. In fact, a USA Weight Lifting-credentialed trainer should teach the power exercises. You can use free weights, pulley machines, and fixed seated machines for your endurance exercises.

Now is the time to space out and ride a bike, do the elliptical, or go for a light jog. It’s your call, but 30-40 minutes of one of these activities is a great way to round out your exercise session.

Easy static stretching after you cool down is a good way to keep your muscles in balance. Yoga exercises or most of the simple stretches for the chest, torso and arms, as well as the hips, thighs and calfs will do. There is no set time to hold a stretch, but try a couple of relaxed deep breaths for each hold. Busy? Do these just before you go to bed.

This is a sequence of a complete workout. Remember to start simple. Focus on two to three of these categories in each workout and mix it up each session: more warm up, core and strength, or more balance/agility, power, and aerobics. This will allow you to develop your muscles in different ways and use the different energy systems that we need for different intensity exercises. Three weeks of this and then a week of simple aerobics is a good way to keep your mind and body fresh.

We have videos of these exercises and techniques on our website,, or you can e-mail me with your thoughts at

Mike Dee, P.T. is one of the owners of Dee PT located in South Burlington, Shelburne and Hinesburg. Mike has been practicing physical therapy for 30 years and has held certifications by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a certified personal trainer (CPT) and a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS).