The Four Pillars of Fitness

“Regardless of age, gender, history, goals, or current fitness level, everyone will see optimal results when their regular exercise program includes a mix of the four more impacting factors of fitness: cardiovascular exercise, rest, flexibility, and strength…. balanced fitness will help you reach your goals faster”. – Chalene Johnson, PUSH

Most of what I know about fitness, I have learned from my greatest inspiration and motivator, Chalene Johnson. I’ve written about her before, and I speak about her very often. She is the creator of many workout programs including my soul-mate workout Turbo Fire, is a motivational speaker, fitness trainer and best-selling author of one of my favorite books, “PUSH”.

Today I want to share with you something that I believe to be incredibly important and critical to starting, understanding and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and that is the four pillars of fitness. All of this information can be found in Chalene’s book, chapter 13: The Bangin’ Body Formula. I want to explain it to you all here today because it is something that ever since I started practicing every day, I have noticed a dramatic difference. I never used to focus on all four components of fitness, thinking I didn’t need them all or not really knowing how important each one was. But to truly reach your maximum fitness potential, and to reach your goals (whether it is to run a 10-K, build muscle, lose 15 pounds or just be healthier), all four of these components must be incorporated into your own personalized fitness plan!

*Everything in quotations is directly taken from PUSH*

The First Pillar: CARDIO

“Whether you want to lose weight, maintain your weight, reduce stress, or just live longer, cardio is a must. It’s nonnegotiable. Getting your heart rate up every day for a minimum of 30 minutes needs to be as routine as brushing your teeth”. (p. 94)

There is a cardio exercise out there for EVERYONE. There isn’t one thing that everyone will love, there is no “one size fits all” cardio workout. It can be running, kickboxing, cycling, power walking, yoga, fitness DVDS, basketball… whatever! Low impact or high impact, moderate intensity to high-intensity. Try something out. You’ll never know when you’ll fall in love, or if you really dislike a certain activity, if you don’t try. The more things you try, the more likely you are to find the activity that you love!

“Intensity is determined more by your effort than the workout you choose. That’s why the best cardio workout is the one you like enough to actually push yourself. To build a bangin’ body, you want to have variety in the intensity, duration and type of cardio you do. Regardless of the activity, you’ll see improvements.” (p. 95)

The Second Pillar: REST


You tear and use your muscles during your workouts. You fuel them by eating. And they GROW and repair themselves in your sleep. Getting adequate sleep (7-9 hours) is CRUCIAL to your weight-loss and muscle-building success. There is tons of research and studies that prove this exact point. You cannot be healthy and build a healthy body without properly resting. I’ve seen this in my friends and in myself. Losing hours of sleep actually hinders your weight loss. Meaning.. yes, not sleeping causes you to GAIN WEIGHT! Furthermore, you hinder all your hard work when you don’t allow your body to rest and heal. REST IS SO IMPORTANT!

Sometimes I need to remind myself of this. This is the part that I find the hardest to stick to, and I literally have to force myself to take a rest day during the week. I go hard on my strength, cardio and stretch during the week and when it comes to Saturday (my rest day), I feel guilty doing nothing. I usually do some yoga on Saturday, just to stretch out my muscles, but nothing crazy, really just a stretch. I need to remind myself that it isn’t healthy to workout 7 days a week, that my body needs to repair itself. And after a rest day, I’m SO ready to hit it hard on Sunday! This is another advantage! So… REST!

The Third Pillar: FLEXIBILITY

“Flexibility is one of the most commonly neglected areas of fitness, perhaps because the progress is not visibly apparent. But improving flexibility does a body good. A flexible muscle has greater strength potential. Improved flexibility increases cardiovascular endurance and performance. With increased flexibility, you’ll also move more comfortable, avoid injury, and whatever you do will feel easier.” (p. 97)

Flexibility is usually what you’ll spend the least amount of time on. A few minutes spent stretching after each workout is definitely enough to maintain your flexibility. If your goal is to improve it, then you’ll need to spend a little more time on it, something like 1-2 times a week for 20-30 minutes.

The Fourth Pillar: STRENGTH

“Get excited! This is where it’s at! This is where the kind of training you do can make all the difference in the world. Muscle is your fountain of youth! It’s your secret weapon in the war against fat! it’s your best friend who will make sure you burn more calories. (And that means you get to eat more! Yahoo!) Learn to love and appreciate muscle. Muscle is beautiful. Muscle is the most important component to building a bangin’ body!” (p. 98)

I couldn’t have said it better myself! I, like many others out there, used to be afraid of strength training. I thought, “I’m a woman, I shouldn’t be lifting heavy weights because if I do, I will bulk up and I don’t want to look like a body builder!” HA! If only it was that easy. The ONLY way a woman will bulk up is if she takes steroids (scientific fact)! As you already know, men produce the hormone testosterone. Women produce very little testosterone, and a lot of estrogen. Because of the lack of testosterone, our muscles do not develop and grow in the same way a man’s muscle grows. MUSCLE LEANS YOU OUT!

“When women add muscle strength, they get smaller everywhere. Women who lift weights to build strength (as opposed to endurance) will see a reduction in all measurements. Despite the gains of strength, the female body burns fat as it builds muscle. That loss of fat just beneath the skin results in smaller measurements – everywhere!” (p. 100)

WOOOOOO!!! Be HAPPY about this! This is the best news I have ever received about fitness! When I first started training with Chalene (TurboFire was my first program), I put all my faith in her. When I started ChaLean Extreme and she told me we’d be lifting heavy weights and not to fear them, I believed her. And when I saw the results, I BELIEVED EVEN MORE! By this time I had already lost 20 pounds with TurboFire, and I didn’t have much muscle definition. As I started lifting, my body started becoming tighter, my body fat percentage dropped, my arms were becoming defined, my butt was lifting and getting firmer, and I FINALLY had abs. I was in shock! And I kept having to go to the hardware store to buy heavier weights because I was getting so strong! Strength training is AMAZING! JUST DO IT!

So, let’s recap…

– To achieve maximum fitness results and be your healthiest, you must have a balanced workout routine containing each of the four pillars.
– It takes time to adjust and get used to a routine, so just push yourself every day until it becomes second nature.
– It WILL become second nature, TRUST ME! You will learn to LOVE working out.
– Don’t tell yourself you’re too tired, or you’ll start tomorrow. JUST DO IT NOW.
– You don’t get results by wishing and hoping. You WILL get results by DOING.
– Try out different cardio exercises until you find your soulmate. Take a class at a gym, go for a run, buy or borrow a DVD.
– Ask a friend to join in this journey with you. You will have a much easier time with someone to go through this with and support you!
– Get your 8 hours of sleep! Make it a top priority!
– MUSCLE BURNS FAT! So lift heavy!
– Muscle is BEAUTIFUL!
– Muscle is the fountain of youth!
– For more information please check out Chalene’s book “PUSH”. I wish I could get a copy for every one of you, I really do! It has changed my whole outlook and my life. I recommend it to EVERYONE.

As always, email me or message me on Facebook if you want to chat, I’m here for you!

Peace, love and iron,
xx Laura


One thought on “The Four Pillars of Fitness

  1. I am doing the programme because I want to build bone strength. The advantage of course is becoming leaner. But i want strong bones because…sigh…at my age, being a menopausal woman, osteoporosis is a reality. So i am building strong bones!!!


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