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Exercise Fundamentals Part 1 – The 6 types of Exercise

I wanted to return to the fundamentals of exercise. I believe there has been a bit of confusion out there over what exercise is and how it should be done. In this three part article I will outline the whole context of exercise and how it can help you.

What is exercise ?

Exercise is an ability to perform a certain physical task. This can mean the ability to hold the body in ideal posture, run or squat. Your fitness is your ability to carry out the physical task. With a wealth of possible physical actions your body can do there are an almost unlimited number of definitions that can be termed “fitness”. I first tried to solve this problem when I created the fitness profile test back in 2008. It measured 26 elements of fitness to give you an overall score while exposing weaknesses. This allowed me to then improve a client’s fitness more quickly by working on their weakest areas. 

Fitness Training

Fitness training is doing exercises that will improve your fitness - your ability to perform a certain action. With this in mind there are there are 6 main areas of exercise. I used to always say there were four types of exercise but I would add in a couple more now looking at the way the exercise field has gone in recent years. The 6 types of exercise are


Exercises over 20 reps (over 90secs) which includes aerobic circuit training and more traditional exercises such as running, cycling etc.


The idea of this technique is to induce fatigue within the muscles used in a certain movement between 1- 20 reps max (roughly). There are many factors that affect the benefits that come from resistance training such as exercise, reps, rest, volume. It can be manipulated to make you stronger, more toned, bigger (more muscle) or to increase endurance.

Core training

This sub-divide of resistance training refers to exercises designed to target the core area that surrounds the stomach.


Massage entered the exercise field when foam rollers became part and parcel of every gym. While a foam roller is a self-massage technique any form of massage can be very powerfully integrated into fitness training. It is through tightness, spasm and loss of integrity in the muscular and fascial system that can create posture disturbances, pain and faulty movements. Through massage you can greatly improve flexibility. However it is a long way from traditional stretching and the success of it is about specific site massaging to realign posture and not general massage.

Muscle activation techniques

The ability to lift a certain weight is a measure of fitness. Whether this is a squat, press up or picking you child from the floor. Strength increases come when the right muscles are working. To ensure this happens you need to use muscle activation techniques. These range from decompressing joints to specific stretches to switch off a muscle and tapping techniques to activate a different muscle. Through using these techniques the same exercise, e.g. squat can have a completely different effect on the body.


This is the ability to produce movement around a joint. It is important to enable you to function properly, e.g. be able to pick something off the floor and it relates holding ideal posture. It is also used within muscle activation techniques to switch off a muscle. 

In part 2 we will look into how these relate to the actual goals you are trying to achieve

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