Three Basic Components Every Good Workout Should Have

Somethings are supposed to be good even when they’re bad.

Like a cold beer on a hot day or sex just about anytime.

Well, lousy sex isn’t so hot no matter when it happens and I don’t care how cold Lonestar beer is, it’s just not very good.

And you know what else is bad when it’s bad?

Poorly designed “workouts”.

You might argue that Lonestar beer is great or for that matter lousy sex but when a workout gives your joints fits, no one is going to say “Hey, Dude, that was awesome!”

What makes a a great “workout” great? Check out these three components that anyone serious about upleveling their health and fitness should have in their training routines.

Routines Must Be Consistently Variable

This is one of the most important aspects of a training regimen. By using this principle of variability, you do several good things for yourself:

Reduce risk of injury. Repeating the same movement patterns week after week exposes you to repetitive stress injuries. And by practicing a variety of movements, you cover all potential areas of weakness or loss of mobility.

Maximize energy expenditure. The body is inherently lazy. It masters movements fairly quickly to reduce excess use of energy. By rotating routines, your body never quite reaches the point of efficiency so you work harder within each routine although at lower loads (and again reduce your risk of injury).

Reduce boredom. One of the complaints people have about their “workouts” is sameness. The routine becomes, well, routine. Our approach of rotating Elements within a training week eliminates sameness and greatly alleviates boredom.

Routines Must Include Six Degrees of Freedom

When we move, our bodies travel through space in very defined pathways. These pathways are the six degrees of freedom.

Look at the image and you’ll see what looks like three large sheets of glass inserted through the body. Each one of these sheets is a plane. So, when you bend forward at the waist, you move through one plane (sagittal), when you bend sideways, you move through another (frontal) and when you twist or turn, you move through another (transverse).

Detail of women anatomical planes

A degree of freedom is just a displacement or movement of the body in a particular manner (and includes the three planes of motion):

  • Moving up and down
  • Moving left and right
  • Moving forward and backward
  • Tilting forward and backward
  • Turning left and right
  • Tilting side to side


Most of us don’t live in a primal world hunting (for our meals at least), sprinting for safety, or wrestling (except with a remote). So, we “exercise” as a way of developing or maintaining our bodies.

Most exercise routines focus on 1 or 2 movement planes and 1 or 2 degrees of freedom at the most. For example, if your routine is pushups, pull ups, squats, lunges, and an overhead press, you’re moving mostly in one plane of motion or direction. As a result, you can develop weakness in the muscles, tendons, ligaments that are not used during those movements. Over time, this is how you develop muscle imbalances and even over-use injuries (this happens often in endurance athletes who tend to train one primary movement pattern)

Optimal health is dependent on optimal movement: balanced, strong, fluid motion. We have to plan our movements through training since many of us are desk jockeys. We have to think about how to use the six degrees of freedom to achieve a balanced, strong body.

Below is an example that covers five of the six degrees of freedom in one exercise.

Training Routines Must Be Mobile, Scalable, and Safe

Mobile. We’re all busy. So, sometimes we can’t get to a gym or maybe just don’t like gyms. We design the Elements to be as mobile as possible requiring simple, relatively inexpensive tools. Sure, you can join a gym, use heavy iron if you want to but it’s not required to achieve high levels of fitness and health. As long as you challenge your body within your limits and consistently vary your training, you’ll get as fit as you want to be.

In 90 days, with three, 30 minute training sessions per week with the ActiveAge Blueprint, you can easily lose 10lbs of unwanted body fat and boost your strength at least 30%. And when you do that, your body gets younger. Sure, you still age, but your abilities don’t have to.

Scalable. Now, once the routines are mobile, you must, especially at the start, be able to adjust the intensity of the exercises to match your capability. This is a major drawback to almost every other exercise or fitness program you can find. The exercises, or at least one or two, are almost impossible to scale. For example, an exercise that seems to show up a lot in “CORE” routines on other fitness sites is something often referred to as Superman (see the image).


This drill is one of the worst you can use. It delivers very high compressive loads to the spine – the disc – and with it, a high risk of injury. But, in addition to the inherent faults of the drill, there really isn’t any way to make this drill easier; to scale it to match your ability.

Of course, as you get more and more fit, you’ll tolerate drills that are less scalable and the more advanced Elements have drills that aren’t as scalable. But when you’re just getting started, you need scalability.

Consistency / Safety. One of the problems you’ll find, once you know how to look for it, is that most other routines that you can get for free on the Internet (or even pay for) will have at least one drill or exercise that carries a high level of risk and seems out of place relative to the other drills. For example, look at the exercises below published on a large, well-know fitness site as part of a “beginner” core routine. In this case, ALL of the drills are very risky for your spine and should never have been classified as “beginner” exercises. But, the average consumer has no idea. You expect that there would be some degree of thought around these routines; that you wouldn’t be exposed to risky drills in a beginner routine. Think again (click on the links to see video of the drills).

The only known way to change physical capacity is to train which is not the same thing as “working out” or “exercising”.

Both of those terms have a generic, purposeless quality. Training is both planned and purposeful.

Training has a practice component. You not only aim to improve, for example strength, but also coordination which is blending and controlling balance, flexibility, and strength. The effect of training alters both specific physical and chemical properties of the body as well as the nervous system.

You change.

But the way you train matters.