Build a Balanced Fitness Plan

​Join Derek Buss, Physical Therapist, as he shares how to balance your workout to create an ideal fitness plan. Along with his expert tips, you will find extra resources that will help you get active today!  

Listen to this WellCast above, or you can watch a video version of it.

Begin Transcript

Bridgette Butler:  Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt Health and Wellness Wellcast.  I am Bridgett Butler with Health Plus.  Today our guest is Derek Buss, physical therapist, in the Vanderbilt University Hospital In-Patient Physical Therapy Department.  We will be talking about how to balance your workout to create and ideal fitness plan.  Welcome, Derek, and thank you for joining us today.       

Derek Buss:  Thank you for having me today.

Bridgette Butler:  We are so glad that you are here.  So, the COVID-19 pandemic pretty much brought this fast-paced world to a standstill over the past year or so and that had a big impact on work, home life, mental health and physical health.  Most people had to change what they do to stay healthy, especially when it comes to being active.  Now that the vaccinations are available and restrictions are lifting, we are experiencing yet another transition.  So, people are considering a return to the gym while others are planning to get more active outdoors or perhaps continue with home workouts.  In your expertise, what are some important considerations when creating an ideal exercise plan in 2021?

Derek Buss:  I think that depends on your comfort level.  You want to think about engaging in physical activity in different forms, so you can work on the outside, you can go to a gym, you can work on walking, running, so just trying to think of ways to increase activity throughout the day.  

Bridgette Butler:   I like that and based on comfort level absolutely.  We know that a balanced fitness plan will include both muscle strengthening exercises and cardiovascular exercises like walking or biking.  Why are these both important and how do they work together?

Derek Buss:  Well, when engaging in cardiovascular exercise you move large muscle groups in your body and your body responds.  You start breathing faster and taking deep breaths which maximize your oxygen in your blood.  The heart will beat faster and increase blood flow to your lungs and muscles.  Cardio is an excellent way to lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight.  If your heart is beating faster, you will be a stronger heart.  It helps decrease your heart rate with more cardiac output.

Bridgette Butler:  What is an example of a simple routine that includes the cardio and strength exercises?  

Derek Buss:  There are many different types of routines you can set up.  The most common, interval training, circuit training, just trying to incorporate multiple exercises into your workout program.  Such an example would be setting up maybe jogging in place for one minute and then move to the next exercise with the compound movements of maybe a squat movement and then setting up another exercise that you are going to be doing resistance training or adding a little bit more weight during that exercise movement.  So, just trying to set up a variation of different types of exercises to work on strength and cardio together.  

Bridgette Butler:  Strengthening exercises, they can be intimidating for anyone who has not had previous experience with it.  What are some of the dos and don'ts of strength training when you apply it at home or at the gym?

Derek Buss:  Well, you want to lift your appropriate weight.  A lot of people go to the gym, and they try to lift too heavy or they don't add enough resistance.  You need to lift so you can do 12 to 15 repetitions.  You want to make sure you are not putting too much stress on your body if you are just starting out.  You don't want to become too sore, achy, painful, cause too much of an inflammatory repose to your body, you want to make sure to practice safety, you want to make sure you use a spotter if you are using heavy resistance or heavy weights.  You just want to make sure you are protecting your body.  You want to make sure you are using all your larger muscle groups, if possible, during your workouts.  You want to make sure you are also breathing and just controlling your breath as you breathe in and breathe out during the exercises.  I did a lot of the dos there.  Some of the don'ts, you don't want to rush your form.  A lot of people move really quickly during their exercises, so you want to make sure you are doing the proper technique and proper form.  So, a personal trainer or someone like an exercise specialists can help develop a program for you.  You don't want to ignore any kind of pain.  So, if you have pain, you want to kind of detour away from that and give your body time to rest if you are causing your body too much stress.  

Bridgette Butler:  Now, tell us a little bit about flexibility.  How can flexibility be an important piece to a balanced exercise plan?

Derek Buss:  We use flexibility in our daily routines.  We are always reaching and bending and trying to pick up objects throughout the day, so we want to incorporate flexibility throughout our workout program and also our daily routine of stretching and prior to doing any kind of heavy lifting.  So, you usually want to stretch your muscle group after it is warmed up.  A lot of people try to static stretch, holding a stretch prior to working out.  A good example is getting on an elliptical machine or jogging in place and doing some range of motion movements prior to doing a static stretch.

Bridgette Butler:  Thank you for outlining a safe and effective exercise plan.  Do you have any final advise to share when it comes to our mindset about COVID-19 and how we can adapt our physical activity routines going forward?  

Derek Buss:  Well, I feel like it is a big mind shift.  I feel like we need to try to develop using our older routines and tie them into our new routines and find different ways to get out and be physically active.  A lot of people had to work from home, so they are not able to walk into work.  They are not able to establish a daily routine setup around fitness.  They are not engaging.  A lot of people go to the gym to have communication and networking of friends, so a lot of people lost that during COVID.  So, I think developing a program that works best for you in your comfort levels during this challenging time, but also moving forward with people's fitness to better suite their nutrition and have a healthier lifestyle.

Bridgette Butler:   Thank you, Derek, for joining us today and for sharing this important information on how to stay physically active at the moment and how to stay active going forward and the ideal balanced exercise plan.  We appreciate it.  

Derek Buss:  You are welcome.  Thank you for having me.  

Bridgette Butler:  Thanks for listening.  If you have a story suggestion, use the Contact Us page on our website at