As another sunny, summer season winds to an end, for many of us the intensity of the approaching football season is building into the beginning of the regular NFL season games. That means more Sunday get-togethers with friends, extra-delicious, high-calorie snacks and beverages and maybe even staying up later on a Monday night to see the final seconds of your favorite team’s game. It is a truly amazing time of the year for fans of the game. With that in the forefront of a large majority of Americans minds, health and wellness goals tend to take a back seat, falling to the wayside come fall.
A great way to keep your health and wellness goals on the straight and narrow is to follow the lead of your favorite NFL team. Teams progress the intensity of their workouts gradually and shift intensity levels to maximize results. In terms of an average person’s workout, this refers mainly to a cardiovascular training program, like a local gym elliptical session, a run out on the beach or enjoying your favorite SPIN class. Additionally, this commonly includes resistance training programs from cutting-edge cable machines to traditional dumbbell training.
As Fitness Professionals we change intensity of cardiovascular training with both specific movements and general force exerted during an exercise bout. For example, with a traditional elliptical cardio machine, one can change the pace either slower or faster to allow the body a variation in movement which changes the intensity. Increasing the resistance of the machine makes accomplishing that same movement require more force, creating differing outcomes. Lastly, modifying the progression of the exercise session through the time of the workout can change intensity. This is commonly done through interval training or sustained exercise at a specific target heart-rate. A great way to monitor these changes in intensity is to utilize a heart-rate monitor. If you are someone that loves to break a sweat outside, then you can change the route that you take running or biking which could add more hills in your future…or time your pace to see if you can beat your best time. Both are great ways to change-up the intensity and keep your cardio workouts effective throughout the week going into your next NFL kickoff.
Many ecstatic NFL fans geared up earlier this year to watch the NFL Scouting Combine –a series of athletic events to test pre-drafted prospects on their physical fitness and their potential attributes if they are to become a successful professional football player. This includes well-known assessments such as the 40-yard dash, vertical jump test, and 225 lbs. bench press for total repetitions to failure. In order for these athletes’ to achieve their best, every February at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, they must change the intensity of their training programs prior thereto. Athletes conduct sport-specific training on each event, gradually increasing intensity to maximize their output. Most of us that participate in resistance training are not trying to see how many repetitions we can complete with 225lbs on the bench press, but we may include a free-weight press, cable machine chest fly, or other forms of pushing exercises. As fitness professionals, we have the opportunity to help clients learn how to safely and appropriately change intensity in their resistance training to maximize results. We change the amount of precise movements at a lighter weight to either increase muscle endurance with a higher number of repetitions, or drop down the number of completed repetitions to work toward achieving more force that one is able to generate. The start and end positions of an exercise, also known as the range of motion (ROM) may change to alter intensity. For example, setting either a wide grip hand position compared to a close grip, the route that is traveled for the chest/arm muscles maybe shorter or longer changing the intensity on specific muscles. Furthermore, the angle that an exercise is completed will change the intensity and also create lasting variation in your workouts. A common way that we in the fitness world, as well as the top-level NFL prospects complete this in strength training centers is with state-of-the-art cable machines that offer thousands of variations of exercises to complete specific goals.
The name of the game, whether it is the achievement of your favorite NFL squad or personal/maintained success of your health and wellness goals moving into the fall is “INTENSITY.” Altering the intensity of your cardiovascular training and resistance training programs will allow you to change-up your workouts and variation with your exercises to keep it fresh and to keep your results moving down the field. Maybe at your next NFL get-together, you may cheer louder, have more energy, and possibly be the “12th man” to help your team chalk-up that next win!
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