Shaping Up: Five ways to mix up your training programme

Suggestions from trainer Graham Low on how to mix up your training programme.
Suggestions from trainer Graham Low on how to mix up your training programme.

Last week I started taking part in a new yoga class. It’s completely different from the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that I’m used to doing, but it’s really important to mix your training up.

I consider myself to be quite fit; I take part in my own boot camps at least four times a week, I go running once a week, I lift weights twice a week, and I play five-a-side occasionally.

In December and January, I increased my running training to at least four times a week.

It was great for my cardiovascular fitness, but I started to get problems with my calves and knees.

I was told by a physio that it was because my glutes and hamstrings were so tight.

So, I started taking part in the yoga class to help with my flexibility.

While my cardiovascular and muscular strength is pretty good, the yoga class made me realise that my flexibility is shockingly bad!

It was very challenging getting into the warrior pose and my hamstrings were screaming at me while we were doing the downward facing dog.

I knew my flexibility wasn’t great, but it really opened my eyes to the fact that I need to concentrate more on that aspect of my fitness.

The lesson in this story is: If you over-train in certain areas of your fitness and neglect other parts, it will eventually catch up on you.

So, to get your body in good balance and reduce the risk of injuries focus a little bit of your training on each of these components:

Cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, agility, co-ordination, balance, power and speed.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re new to exercise or you’re an experienced fitness guru, you must have a good balance of each component to live a healthy, fit, balanced lifestyle.

I’m not saying you have to dedicate hours and hours to each component, but you certainly need to factor in a small amount of each one into your fitness routine.

How can you improve those areas of fitness?

Cardiovascular fitness

Any activity that raises your heart rate and gets you out of breath will improve your cardiovascular fitness. Running, cycling, swimming are good examples.

Muscular strength and endurance

Lifting weights at the gym is one of the best ways to improve your muscular strength.

Focus more on the big exercises like squats and deadlifts, rather than isolation exercises like bicep curls for example.


Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility.

That’s why I’ve teamed up with Blooming Bamboo Yoga in Seaham to offer my boot camp members a weekly yoga class.

It compliments their HIIT workouts because it helps to strengthen the ligaments and tendons to support the joints.

It also helps release tight muscles and brings some relaxation into their routine

You can visit their website here.

Agility, co-ordination and balance

One of the easiest ways to improve these components of fitness is to participate in a sport such as football, rugby or tennis.

A weekly five-a-side game works wonders!

Power and speed

If you incorporate some plyometric exercises into your gym workouts you’ll see a big improvement in your power and speed.

Plyometric exercises are compound movements, commonly done with bodyweight or very light loads such as plyo pushups, box jumps, and jump squats.

The goal is to train for maximum force production in the smallest period of time, so reps are kept low and the intensity and effort is high.

To train explosiveness, you have to perform each movement as explosively as you possibly can.

That means leaving the ground.

Your trainer: Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award-winning personal trainer based in Seaham. The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year. Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012. For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email or visit