5 training elements to include in every workout

Most weeks I create a dozen or more workouts. For my group training clients, my group fitness participants and of course, myself!

In addition to including strength and cardiovascular components, each workout typically includes the following five training elements; power training, speed and agility work, unilateral (or offset load) exercise, core work and flexibility training.

Although the relative importance of each element varies with the type of class I’m teaching and each client’s unique goals, if functional fitness is your goal (and it should be if you want to be able to keep doing the things you love for another 20 or more years…) including a few minutes of each in your workout is the best way to ensure a well-rounded fitness program.

1. Power training

Power is the ability to exert maximum muscular contraction in an explosive burst of movement. Not something that you’ll need to do often, but when it’s necessary (like getting out of the way of an oncoming car or dodging a flying object aimed at your head) you’ll be glad you spent a little time training for it. In addition to improving your reaction time, power training is also a great way to increase strength, burn a few extra calories and improve your cardiovascular function.

Try adding in one or two power moves after your warmup, but before the strength component of your workout. I like to alternate upper and lower body power moves from one workout to the next.

Power it up workout from fitknitchick.com

2. Speed and agility work

Unlike power training, speed and agility work focuses on rapid, unweighted movements, most often forward and backward or side to side. If you have small children, you’ll recognize the value of being able to rapidly change direction so as not to trip over the toys that inexplicably get left on the stairs.

Aim for short bursts of intense effort, choosing simple movements that don’t require much concentration. For example, fast feet or lateral hop squats on the Bosu balance trainer. Even more fun? Grab a skipping rope and re-connect with your inner child.

Bosu balance trainer workout from fitknitchick.com

3. Unilateral or offset load exercises

Whenever you ask one side of your body to do something different from the other, you’re performing a unilateral or offset load exercise. Benefits include improved balance and kinesthetic awareness, reduced left-right side imbalances (we all have ‘dumb’ side…) and a little extra core training. Make sure to switch sides between sets so as not to exacerbate the difference between your strong and weak sides!

Offset load workout from fitknitchick.com

 4. Core or abdominal work

I have yet to meet a client who doesn’t want to firm up their midsection. Although many of the strength exercises I prescribe are core-based (for example, the unilateral and offset moves described above), adding a few isolated abdominal exercises at the end of the workout is a great way to cool down and transition from the strength component of the workout to flexibility training. Here are a few of my favourite stability ball core moves.

5. Flexibility training

For many, stretching is the reward at the end of a challenging workout. Time to slow down, focus on lengthening the muscles and enjoy the feeling of a job well done. For best results, ease into each stretch, hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds, avoid bouncing, breath-holding and pain. Choose at least one stretch for each of the muscle groups you worked. Add a second stretch for joints that are particularly tight (chests, shoulders and hips are the ones I typically see needing attention).

5 Reasons to Stretch more often from fitknitchick.com

What are your favourite training elements? Is there one that you always include in your workouts? One that you need to include more often? 😉




  1. Wow! Lots of great stuff here. Pinning for future reference 😉
    Coco recently posted…Training For Injury Free RunningMy Profile

    • Thanks Coco! Good thing ’cause I’ll be sharing this post on LeanGreenBean’s ‘pin it party’ on Thursday 🙂

  2. This is awesome, lady! Great pointers and so true! Having all of these components will definitely make for a well rounded workout!

    • Thanks Heather! I really do try to create well-rounded programs for my clients.

  3. yes Yes YASSS! Excellent points you bring up. Power training is the hardest for me to motivated myself to do, but once I get going, I’m in Beastmode. As for speed & agility, I really need to incorporate more of that.
    Yum Yucky recently posted…125 Rep Abs QuickieMy Profile

    • I hear you! The best thing about power training is that it’s quick! Just 5 minutes near the beginning of a workout is really all you need, right?

  4. love it! i’m always needing work on my posture too. I need to remember that one.
    lindsay recently posted…Immunity Boosting Recipe:Tangy Broccoli Slaw SaladMy Profile

    • Thanks Lindsay! I must say that starting to lift weights made me way more mindful of my posture. Although it does tend to decline towards the end of the day ;0

  5. Loaded with great definitions and examples. Almost inspired to do box jumps. Not really cus they’re hard. But the rest looks so tempting!
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…DietBetter: 4 percent Weight Loss in 4 weeksMy Profile

  6. we both know I need more CORE WORK.
    Miz recently posted…Taking my EGO out of the race.My Profile

  7. OK – I love this! I am pinning and am going to start doing!
    Lea recently posted…Lunch Date with a TreadmillMy Profile

  8. pinned that offset load workout! thanks for participating!
    Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean recently posted…Pin It Party 5My Profile

  9. I love adding in some great stretching to my workout schedule. It is also one thing that I need to do more often.
    Samantha @ The Faithful Runner recently posted…Workout Wednesday – At-Home Arms WorkoutMy Profile

  10. Great reads and workouts! Thanks for sharing these. I can’t wait to try and pin some of them. 🙂

  11. Love this. the tip on alternating upper and lower body power moves is great. That would really help. Please continue sharing with us your expertise on this.

  12. Great article. I Live in Brazil, I jump rope
    thanks for the information.


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