In our often too busy over crowded calendar, we are lucky at best to get a workout in. “so much to do in so little time”, is a common life malady. When we do manage to fit in a workout, we want THE BIGGEST payoff for that allotted time. Often overlooked in the blurring pace of our days leading to our workout time, are two things that will enhance your results: The Warm Up and The Cool Down.
Going in stone cold to a training session is less than desirable for two reasons:
1) Injury prevention and
2) Enhanced performance.
A “cold” body simply put, is not ready for strenuous bouts of exercise, it needs prep time before going “all out”. A pre-workout warm up results in a higher heart rate; dilates blood vessels, lubricates your joints, elevates tissue temperatures and gets your mindset in the proper place—off of “life issues” and on to “work out intensity.”
A warm up does not have to be a belabored process and depending on your fitness level, it can be a simple brisk walk (like when you are late to a very important meeting), or jumping rope for 90 seconds, doing 15 overhead medicine ball slams will do the trick; or 10 pushups/10 situps/10 pull-ups, or even a lunge walk should start the process. Make sure to save your big push for the work out itself—thirty minutes of “cardio” pre-work out is not a warm up—it is a workout. I’m talking about 5 to 10 minutes of moderate effort beforehand, to get the head, heart and body amped up… to throw down pre workout.
Equally important after your training sessions:
Take 5 or 10 minutes to do basic stretching to cool down, which will take advantage of your elevated tissue temperatures and improved muscle elasticity post workout. This is the best time to get the most from your stretching. There are a couple of anatomical areas I would recommend focusing on, given what we see in postural/pain problems presented by a vast majority of people.
The first would be hamstrings: As a population we tend to sit too much and most tend to be side-sleepers, sleeping in the fetal position, all of which shorten the hamstring muscles. Tight hamstrings in general contribute to low back pain, especially when in concert with weak abdominal muscles.
Stand with feet at hip width and slowly reach your hands down toward your toes—no bouncing. Once you feel the stretch in your legs, take about 5 to 6 deep inhale/exhales—this equates to give or take about 20 seconds, which is ample.
The shoulders and traps are another area of focus; due to our tendency to sit at desks with head and shoulders in a forward position while reading, typing, net surfing or watching the latest video stream. What I have found is a simple, yet effective move that helps my shoulder range of motion while working my trap and stretching my triceps at the same time. Simply take one hand and reach up and over behind your head as if trying to park your sunglasses for a ride on your back shirt collar. Take 5 or 6 deep inhale/exhales for each side and you are good to go. In fact, if you learn to store your shades here rather than hanging them from the front collar, you have a double win—looking chic and being stretched all at the same time!
Now for the Pecs. Sitting at the desk ten hours a day over one’s career, with shoulders rolled forward, clutching the work surface/keyboard/project tends to shorten the pectoral muscles. This simple move when done at work, will help with your posture and flexibility, while providing a respite from that over-crowded “to do” list. All it takes is 5 or 6 deep inhale/exhales as you place both hands on the back of the head, pressing your elbows back as if trying to touch them together squeezing your shoulder blades together simultaneously. This will also help with shoulder range of motion and at the same time elongating the pectorals.
Adding 5 to 10 minutes pre training warm ups and post training cool downs, done consistently, will make a significant dent in your efforts for a life with less pain and better result-oriented workouts. In the end, it’s all about maximizing results with maximal effort in efficient minimal time frames.
Do the work, get the big pay off.
Fitness Together Mission Hills offers personal training with qualified professionals by regular appointment in private suites. Exercise and nutritional programs are custom designed to fit your needs and abilities. Call 619-794-0014 for more information or to schedule a free assessment session.