The most neglected components of a complete fitness program are; the warm up, cool down, and flexibility training (stretching).
For starters let’s talk about the warm up.
Often times I see people walk into the gym, walk up to the weights and start lifting, or jump on a treadmill and just start running. Another mistake I see often is stretching as a warm up. Trust me your muscles don’t like being stretched when they’re cold. If you want to perform a light stretch before your workout that’s okay, just start off with a 5 to 10 minute warm up, than stretch.
What should you do for proper warm up? Well that all depends on what kind of exercise you’re planning. I believe it’s best to warm up by doing what you’re planning on doing. For example; if I’m planning on going for a run, my warm up would start off with brisk walking for a couple minutes, then a light jog for a couple more minutes, then gradually pick up speed to my run pace.
If I’m going to the gym to lift weights I’ll grab a light resistance exercise tube and do high reps of exercises that mimic the exercises I’m planning for my workout. If I’m planning a leg workout I like to start off with 5 minutes on the upright Lifecycle to get my knees nice and warm. Then I’ll do some body weight squats or lunges.
Finally if I’m planning on cross training or a boot camp type class I’ll do a mixed warm up. Maybe I’ll start with a light jog or jumping rope, then I’ll grab a medicine ball and do some wood choppers, and finish off with some body weight squats, this will warm up my entire body and I’ll be ready to work.
Next would be the cool-down period. For every work out its good practice to keep moving as your heart rate comes down. The best way to do this is to walk or pedal a Lifecycle lightly for about 5minutes, than go to stretching part of your workout. It is important to get your body back to the pre-workout state after exercise. A proper cool down followed by a good stretch can help lessen post exercise muscle soreness.
Every workout should be closed with a good whole body stretch. It only takes about 5 minutes and your body will thank you by making daily everyday tasks easier. Start with your legs and work your way up to your arms stretching each muscle group along the way. Hold each stretch about 15 to 20 seconds than move to the next. Just think how much you quads hurt 2 days after a heavy leg work out, a good cool down and stretch after that workout would lessen that pain and cut down on the duration of it.
To really amp up your flexibility I recommend Yoga. Yoga will give you an awesome workout and will help you build strength, burn fat, and improve total body flexibility.
In the future I will come back to each of these topics in greater detail, but for now you have some basic info on each. So starting immediately, add these components to your program.
More to come, stay tuned…