Richards: Prioritizing fitness goals will help you earn fitness benefits (column) |

Richards: Prioritizing fitness goals will help you earn fitness benefits (column)

Ryan Richards
Make It Count

In my last column, I discussed the purported benefits and limitations of excessive mobility and stretching regimens. As a promised follow-up column on specific mobility training guidelines, I want to propose a more comprehensive instruction for fitness acquisition.

Prioritizing specific goals is fundamental to my core beliefs about fitness and life. A few weeks ago, I created a pyramid, depicting my personal goals for the year. The base of the pyramid went from spiritual, emotional, relational, physical and then financial at the top; from most (spiritual), to least (financial) importance respectively. During the exercise, I wrote down a range of questions regarding my beliefs and current actions to further challenge my expectations.

A few days after reflection, I wrote down what the actual pyramid looked like, versus my expectations. The priorities were financial, relational, physical, emotional and then spiritual. The pyramid was almost exactly upside down. It’s no wonder I was yearning for changes in my life.

Some questions to ask yourself

Breaking the physical level of the pyramid down further, what would yours look like? Everyone’s fitness pyramid is highly individual. However, what you desire, is often the opposite of what you actually need. As an example, most women prioritize body fat composition, endurance, movement competency, strength and muscle size as a low priority. Men’s priorities often resemble the following; muscle size, strength, body fat composition, endurance and lastly, movement competency. In reality, most women should be prioritizing muscle strength, and most men should be optimizing their movement competency by stretching more.

To legitimize your actual desires, here’s a few questions to ask yourself:

Body composition: Men, is your waist no greater than half your height in inches? Women, divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference. No greater than .85 for healthy body fat distribution.

Movement Competency: Can you reach down and touch your toes without bending your knees? Can you place one hand behind your neck, and the other hand behind your low back and move each respective hand within a palms distance to each other?

Endurance: This is highly subjective to each individual, but can you jog a mile in under 10 minutes? What about walking 10 miles without trouble?

Strength: Another subjective measurement, however, can you lie down on your back and stand up without trouble? Could you perform 20 strict pushups? Women, how about 10 strict pushups?

Muscle size: Optimal muscle mass is controversial. On one hand, the more muscle mass you carry, the higher your metabolism and subsequent calories burned. On the other hand, muscles require fuel, oxygen and therefore can be costly for us living in the mountains who enjoy aerobic activities.

These questions are starting points for discussions on how to proceed with your fitness planning. Without reasonable measures, it’s difficult to objectively understand how to prioritize your wellness needs. I hope these guidelines bring clarity to your fitness pursuits. Have a great week.

Ryan Richards is a fitness professional who has been keeping the Vail Valley strong for over a decade. You can find him at or 970-401-0720.

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