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Guidelines to Crush Your Fitness Goals

Updated: Jan 3

The FitRehab Podcast, Episode 1: Crush Your Fitness Goals

Crush your fitness goals with these guidelines! Learn how much exercise is enough, the best cardio and resistance training practices, and more.

Link to listen to episode on Apple Podcasts
Link to listen to episode on Spotify

Also available on Amazon Music and iHeart

Are you looking to increase your physical fitness but aren’t sure where to begin? How much is enough and how much is too much? In today’s episode, I lay out the guidelines and recommendations for an effective fitness program. This episode is short and sweet but loaded with lots of information you can put to use right away.

Welcome in, I hope this episode finds you well and enjoying this holiday season. As I record this episode, we are only a couple of days away from ringing in 2024. So you know what that means… New Year Resolutions. And of course, one of the most common New Year Resolutions year after year is improving physical fitness. Working out more, eating better, becoming more overall physically active, and things along those lines. However, this unfortunately also becomes a time of year when I see a sharp increase in the number of clients coming into the clinic with injuries that resulted from sudden changes in activity levels. I’m referring mostly to what are commonly called tendonitis and overuse injuries (such as tennis elbow, rotator cuff tendonitis, etc. etc.)

What I’ve found to be a common denominator amongst the clients coming in with these injuries is a lack of understanding how much exercise is enough and how much is too much. Many times, these clients admitted to jumping straight into the gym or onto social media and trying the first exercise or program that caught their eye and without any true direction as to how to get where they want to be in regard to their fitness and overall physique. 

So my goal for this episode is to lay out the general guidelines and recommendations for an effective fitness program to help you start 2024 off on the right foot. There is a lot of information that will be coming your way over the next few minutes. But don’t worry about trying to memorize or take notes. I’ve consolidated all of this information that I’m going to cover into a single document that you can download for free. I’m calling that document the Physical Wellness Gameplan and I attached the link to download it for free in the description below.

These recommendations were pulled from the American College of Sports Medicine (or ACSM) publication titled Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, tenth edition.

Exercise guidelines for an effective fitness program

ACSM is a gold standard agency for research and education regarding health and fitness. It is comprised of a variety of disciplines ranging from physicians to academics to personal trainers. So they’re able to pull from the different philosophies and experience from each discipline to present holistic and comprehensive recommendations that are of course backed by research.

There are three exercise modes we’ll cover: number one is aerobic training (commonly referred to as cardio), number two is resistance training, and number three is flexibility training.

Before I proceed any further, please do note that these recommendations are for typical, otherwise healthy, individuals and are of course general. They obviously have not been tailored to your specific circumstances or needs and thus you should tailor them to how you feel you’re doing as you engage in exercise. Also, I recommend that you receive medical clearance from a physician prior to increasing physical activity. Just to check all of the boxes and make sure you’re good to go. As the old saying goes: it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Okay, so moving on to number 1…

Aerobic Training  (also known as cardio)

The ACSM recommends that typical adults strive to achieve 20-60 min of light to moderate intensity aerobic activity per day on 5 days per week. 

Light to moderate intensity means maintaining your heart rate between 30 and 59% of your heart rate reserve (now I’m not going to dive into the specifics of heart rate reserve and how to calculate that because I’ve already created a calculator that you can use for free on my website to find that specific heart rate range to exercise within. I will attach the link to that calculator in the description for this episode).

If you do not have a heart rate tracker, no worries. Another method for measuring intensity is through the Rating of Perceived Exertion. I’ll attach a link to this as well. Try exercising somewhere within the range of 12 and 16 to maintain a light to moderate intensity. 

Now, this all does not have to be accomplished by you running on the treadmill or riding the elliptical for an hour. You can incorporate this into a circuit-style workout for a more time-efficient approach. Also important to note that you do not need to accumulate the entire 60 minutes all in one session. This is especially beneficial if you’re not used to regular exercise. Space it out little by little over the day. For example, go for a brisk walk in the morning, at lunch, and when you return home.

Moving on the second mode of exercise:

Resistance Training

The ACSM recommends that typical adults exercise each major muscle group through resistance training 2-3 days per week with at least 48 hours of rest between each session for each muscle group that was worked. 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps for each major muscle group is recommended, allowing 2-3 minutes of rest between each set so that your muscles have enough time to recover before being loaded again.

And lastly, the third mode:


These recommendations are very similar to resistance training in that each major muscle group and joint should be intentionally mobilized and stretched at least 2-3 days per week (but can be done daily for better effectiveness once you confirm good tolerance). I find it easiest and most applicable to simply complete these on the same days as resistance training. That way I’m at least accomplishing it at a minimum 2-3 days per week.

Complete the dynamic (AKA moving) stretches in the warm-up and the static (AKA place and hold) stretches after the resistance training when muscles are warmed up and better prepared to stretch. Hold the static stretch for 10-30 seconds at the initial point of tightness and/or slight discomfort (note that I said discomfort, NOT pain. There is a difference. You should not be causing pain while stretching). Strive for a total of 60 seconds spent working each major joint, per session. 

So there you have it, the general recommendations for establishing an effective program for increasing your health and fitness. I know that was a lot of information, but don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. These were the same principles I utilized when I designed the Physical Wellness GamePlan, which is a free template that I created to summarize everything from this episode as well as provide a few bonus tips.

Oh- and I included the Rating of Perceived Exertion scale on there as well. I think you’ll find it’s a helpful resource as I tried my best to consolidate pertinent information into one resource so you’re not having to jump from resource to resource. If you’d like to download your free copy of the Physical Wellness GamePlan, you can do so by clicking the link in the description.

Physical Wellness Template

Lastly, if you found this post helpful and haven’t already, I’d greatly appreciate you giving me a follow on Instagram as I work to grow my community and impact.

Link to this author's Instagram profile for more fitness and rehab content


Deschenes, M., & Garber, C. E. (2018). General principles of exercise prescription. In D. Reibe, J. K. Ehrman, G. Liguori & M. Magal (Eds.), ACSM'S guidelines for exercise testing and prescription, tenth edition (pp. 143-174). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health.


Thank you for reading this blog post. This blog is a service of Optimal Living Solutions under the alias "FitRehab". The information in this blog is not to be substituted for physician consultation, evaluation, and/or treatment. You are advised to consult a physician before you undertake any physical exercise program. If you experience any chest discomfort and/or abnormalities in your heart rate or breathing, stop exercising and consult a physician immediately. Optimal Living Solutions makes no guarantees with regard to outcomes you will experience from information provided within this blog, including but not limited to, resolution of pain and/or symptoms, the amount of weight you may gain or lose, or the rate at which such weight loss or weight gain will occur.

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