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Exercise: The Four Components & How to Accomplish Them

Updated March 31, 2019

Hope Kleine

SDSU Extension Health Education & Food Safety Field Specialist

Exercising can be a little intimidating especially if you’re not quite sure where to start. In this exercise training guide, stretching, cardiovascular training, resistance training, and neuromotor training will be covered so that you can begin exercising with confidence!


There are two main types of stretching; dynamic and static. Dynamic stretching is moving the joint and muscles through a full range of motion (ex: skipping or high knee marches). Static stretching is when the muscle is held in an elongated position (ex: calf stretch, touching your toes). For maximum benefit, hold each position 30-60 seconds.

  • Dynamic- Try dynamic stretching for 10 minutes before your workout to prime and warm up your muscles.
  • Static- Stretch after your workout for 15-20 minutes and drink plenty of water.
    • Flexibility work should be done at least 2-3 days per week to maintain or increase range of motion.

Cardiovascular Training

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week, or a combination thereof.

  • A continuous longer session or shorter sessions of at least 10 minutes are both acceptable.
  • Gradual progression of exercise time, frequency, and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk.
  • To determine what intensity you are working at, monitor your heart rate. Calculate Age Estimated Max Heart Rate = 220 – age (example, 40-year-old: 220-40 = 180 max heart rate)
    • Moderate intensity = 40-60% max heart rate (example, 40-year-old: 72-108 beats per minute)
    • Vigorous intensity = 70-85% max heart rate (example, 40-year-old: 126-153 beats per minute)

Resistance Training

ACSM recommends that adults train each major muscle group two or three days each week with a variety of exercises and equipment.

  • 2-4 sets of each exercise will help improve strength and muscle tone
  • 8-12 repetition to improve strength and power, 10-15 repetitions improves strength in middle-aged and older individuals just starting to exercise, and 15-20 repetitions to improve muscular endurance
  • Adults should wait at least 48 hours in-between weight lifting sessions


(Sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week.

  • Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities (tai ji and yoga) to improve physical function.
  • 20-30 minutes per day is appropriate for neuromotor exercise.

In closing, if you are just starting your exercise routine, always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regime and always workout at an intensity that you feel comfortable with, pushing yourself too hard can lead to injury or decreased exercise adherence.

To read more, view this resource from the American College of Sports Medicine.

Related Topics

Physical Activity, Health