What is fitness? Is it functionality or aesthetics? Is it strength or speed? Is it low cholesterol or low resting heart rate? Well, it is obviously all of those and much more.

Wading through the endless books, magazines and journals can be exhausting and many times ideas, theories and disciplines are contradictory. Why? Because fitness is not an absolute science. Fitness takes science and develops it to best suit an individual or team.

Fitness is comprised of, but not limited to, cardiovascular strength, endurance, muscular strength and power, core training, flexibility and range of motion, balance and proprioception, speed and reaction time and body composition.

So what’s a novice or, for that matter, an experienced athlete to do? Listen to your body, use common sense and incorporate the fundamentals below. This is the third of four columns that will address four major aspects of fitness: Cardiovascular Basics, Weight Training Basics, Flexibility and Balance Training.

Flexibility Basics:

  • Warm up prior to stretching
  • Hold each stretch for 20 seconds or longer, depending on type of flexibility you are following
  • Use sets for stretching, deepening your stretch each set
  •  Stretch all major muscle groups unless contraindicated
  • Use a variety of stretches and angles
  • Relax when stretching
  • Find the proper angle that stretches the muscle or muscle group being targeted
  • Consider Active Isolated Stretching or Proprioceptive Neuromusclar Facilitation (PNF)