As the weather gets warmer, so does the aim to get out and about and ENJOY the weather! If you have taken to hibernation this winter the best advice is ‘steady as she goes’ – gradually building your fitness up over time is the key to reducing injury. When you are starting out on an exercise regime it is a good idea to know how to appropriately load the body so that it can adapt to the increased forces you are now asking of it.
Load does not just mean the amount of weights you lift, it also can be the amount of activity you do a week, how long you do it for (duration), how fast or slow you do it (speed) and we also have to remember adequate rest – the most important part of load management where you make your biggest gains.
Do you suffer from things such as cardiovascular issues or are you new to exercise? It is always a good idea to check in with the doctor and get a W.O.F. before embarking on any exercise programme.
If you are starting back into exercise, then your load should be for shorter distances. You might like to mix it up such as run/walk for a few weeks until you can do a continuous jog for a certain distance. Do this for a few weeks and then you can start adding to the distance.
If you are already exercising, then adding variety to workouts can change the loading, such as incorporating strength training to work on last season’s weaknesses, alternating on-road with off-road, incorporating hills, sprint work, or sand running – I know Bethell’s Beach is hot for it – some days that black sand is….literally!
Doing a good warm-up really prepares the body for exercise. By making it specific to what you are about to do is also very good. This will get your blood flowing which will provide much-needed oxygen to the working muscles, it will also ramp up the messages being sent to the particular muscles involved in the activity, and you also increase your range of motion of the connective tissue and muscles. Warm-ups also help you concentrate and focus on what you need to achieve in your session. There is no hard and fast rule about how intense or how long you should warm up for – it should be tailored to your individual needs.
Some warm-up drills you could use might be:
Running – jog for 5 minutes then do 10 x high knees, 10 x heel flicks, 10 x leg swings and finish with 40 calf pumps (trying to get heels to the ground).
Cycling – take the first 5 mins as a warm-up, get the legs ticking over, then stand up in the seat, or alternate the rpm with just one leg for 1 min and then swap.
Whatever you decide to pursue this season – make sure it’s enjoyable!