Exercise provides tremendous benefits for health and wellbeing. However, incorrect form or using equipment and tools incorrectly may diminish results, or even cause injury. Below are some suggestions for insuring you get the most out of your exercise routine.
• Don’t skip your warm-up or cool-down because you are short on time. Without a warm-up your body is not prepared for your workout so you may underperform and create a greater chance for injury. By cutting short your cool-down, you create more soreness by not allowing your body to cool down properly. As a result, you may still be sore and not ready for your next workout.
Instead of skipping the warm-up and cool-down, shorten your workout and increase the intensity. You can get an excellent workout (both strength and cardio) in only 20 to 30 minutes. Add moderate-to-intense intervals (HIIT) and/or decrease your rest time between sets. Make sure you find a way to do five to 10 minutes of mobility (dynamic stretching) work prior to your workout and some static stretching after you’re done.
• Don’t use unfamiliar equipment incorrectly or trying a new exercise tool that you have watched others use but have never tried yourself. Make sure you know how to use the equipment or tools before adding them to your exercise program. This goes for everything from elliptical machines to dumbbells, a TRX Suspension Trainer to kettlebells, a BOSU to gliders. First, if you have never used a piece of equipment, do not assume those that you have watched are using it correctly.
If you are at a gym, ask one of the trainers to show you how to use the equipment. If you are in a class, make sure the instructor gives instructions you understand and ask questions after class if you are unsure. If you work out alone, consider using a personal trainer at least once for added help. I see this all the time. Someone watched a video or read a workout in a magazine. New moves or new equipment have little value and can often be unsafe when done incorrectly!
• Don’t overestimate your fitness level or select equipment that is not right for you. I see this all the time, too. People often think more weight, more resistant tubing or bands, higher step benches, etc. will give them a better workout.
When you are able to complete your planned workout or class workout using correct form and no longer have muscle soreness after your workouts, you may be ready to increase your weight or move to the next resistance level. More weight and higher resistance have little value and can definitely result in an injury when using incorrect form.
• Don’t cut short your time to recover properly. You need 24 to 48 hours between workouts of a similar nature to rest and recover. Without the recovery time, you could have soreness, fatigue and decreased performance. When this lasts too long, it could result in overtraining syndrome, which has long-term effects such as hormonal imbalances, sleep disturbances, mood disorders, etc.
• Don’t progress too quickly. The resistance rule of thumb is the 2x2 rule. If you can do two more reps for two sessions at your regular weight, then it is time to move up by two reps or 2 percent in weight. For endurance training, your overall weekly distance or time should not be increased by more than 10% each week. So if you are preparing for a competition, give yourself plenty of time to prepare. You cannot prepare to run a marathon in only a couple of weeks.
For more information regarding safe and effective workouts, talk to a personal trainer.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.