Tag Archives: warm up

Common Workout Mistakes

To get the best possible results in the gym, you need to get the best possible workout every time you try.  Of course you’ll have good days and bad days, but there are lots of ways to make sure you give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.  Even if you work with a trainer or take group exercises classes, there are times when you’re sure to be on your own.  Avoiding these common workout pitfalls will help you reach your goals without injury.

Not resting.  Your body needs time to recover from all the extra work you’re asking it to do.  Give it what it needs.  Taking at least one day off each week will allow your muscles and bones to recover from the strain you’ve recently exerted on them.

Wearing weights.  Not the heavy kind you lift, but the ones you strap to your body.  Ankle weights, wrist weights and weight vests can inhibit natural movement and prevent you from getting all the benefits of an exercise.  They can also change the way your skeletal system works and put excess stress on sensitive areas like joint, tendons and ligaments.  Weight vests are great if you’re preparing for deployment, otherwise, you probably shouldn’t wear one.

Not warming up.  Warming up is incredibly important.  It preps your muscles and heart to do harder work and will help prevent injuries.  Loosening up muscles and increasing blood flow helps joints move properly, and a good warm up also means a better workout overall because your body will be ready for the overload.

Exercise at an inappropriate level.  Too easy and you won’t do any good.  Too hard and you’ll get injured or be too sore to go back anytime soon.  Find your target zone by wearing a heart rate monitor and use perceived rate of exertion (RPE) to determine how hard you’re working, never rely on what a machine tells you.

Always doing the same thing.  If you do the same exact things each time you hit the gym, your body will stop responding to the stimulus.  By giving your muscles something new to do all the time, you continually challenge your muscles to work in new ways.  A wide variety of exercises leads to well-rounded and powerful muscles that can work strongly through a full range of motion.

Follow these tips to make sure you get the most out of your trips to the gym.  Want help planning your workouts or deciding how to warm up?  Ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com for answers today!

Start Running! Here’s How.

Want to start running?  Starting something new can be very intimidating and running is often tops on the list.  Even those who have taken a hiatus due to injury or burn out can have trouble getting started again.  With the potential for injury, getting a physician’s clearance before beginning a run/walk or running program is incredibly important.  After being cleared, here are some tips for getting your running program started.

Support.  Make sure you have the right shoes and use a specialized running store to find them.  Properly fitting and supportive shoes will prevent injury and help keep you pain free.  For women, a properly fitting and appropriately supportive sports bra is just as important as good shoes.  Don’t be afraid to try a few different options to find the one you like best.

Before and After.  Warming up is a key element to getting in a good workout, so spending five to ten minutes raising your heart rate and getting muscles ready to work will help reduce your risk of injury and aid you in achieving better results.  Just as warming up is important, cooling down after your session with five to ten minutes of stretching will ease post run soreness and tightness.

Comfort.  One element of having a successful start is staying in your comfort zone.  Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast or you risk burning out, being injured or not enjoying your new activity.  Stressing out about how fast you run when you are a beginner will have the same effect.  Concentrate on building endurance, and being proud of yourself for starting a new activity, before being concerned with how fast you run each mile.

Find a buddy to run with.  You don’t need to run with a friend every time you head out, but once a week running with a friend can be a great motivator.  There are lots of programs available on the internet you and a friend can work on together.  It’s always a great idea to find a coach or join a group of other beginner runners in your area, which is a great way to find the perfect running buddy.

Race.  You don’t have to be ready to race, but getting out and experiencing one is a great way to set goals and stay motivated.   The race shouldn’t be about winning your age group, or even running the entire way, it’s about being in an electric atmosphere where a bunch of strangers cheer for you.

Check out FitNicePT’s newest program, VB Mother Runners, and learn how we can help you get started today!  Not a mom?  Ask us about our other training options!

Stretching for Golf

Golfers are a notorious bunch.  They just want get out there and go, and it often costs them a few strokes on the first two or three holes.  It’s important to stretch before you tee off for several reasons.  Stretching will loosen muscles and make your swing more fluid, increasing distance and accuracy while also lowering the risk of injury, especially to the lower back.  First of all, it is important to know the limitations of your body.  Get a routine from a professional and make sure your doctor has OKed it.  Increase your body temperature before you stretch to make it more effective because warm muscles are more responsive.  Stretching also helps cool you down after 18 and prevents soreness while providing a relaxing wind down.  Try stretching with a partner so you can keep an eye on each other’s form, being sure to stretch only one muscle group at a time, but also to offer encouragement.

Here are some great pre-golf stretches:

Knee to chest (Lower Back and Glutes):  Lie on your back with your body extended.  Bend one knee and bring your foot to your behind, holding the thigh behind your flexed knee.  Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, taking deep breaths and repeating on each side twice.

Hamstring stretch (Hamstrings):  From a lying position with extended legs, raise your left leg, holding the thigh with both hands and keeping the knee extended.  Slowly pull your leg to your chest, exhaling deeply.  Repeat on both sides for 10 to 30 seconds twice.

Figure Four (Hips and Glutes):  Lying on your back, bring both knee to a 90-degree bend.  Cross your right ankle so it rests on your left knee and use your right hand to push gently away from your chest until you feel a stretch in your hips and glutes.  Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat twice with each leg.

Calf Stretch (Gastroc and Achilles tendon):  Standing upright, place your hands on a wall, fence or other sturdy, flat vertical surface.  Bring your left leg forward, keeping the right leg straight and lean into the wall, bending your elbows.  Repeat twice on both sides for 10 to 30 seconds.

Quadriceps Stretch (Quadriceps):  Stand with one hand on a wall or other type of support and exhale as you raise your right leg to grasp the ankle with your right hand.  Gently pull your right heel towards your buttocks.  Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat twice on each side.

Chest Stretch (Upper chest):  Using a doorframe or other flat vertical surface, bend your left elbow to a 90-degree angle.  With your forearm pointing straight up, place your elbow against the wall and, with a nice big exhale, lean your whole body forward.  If you are in a doorframe, you can do both sides at the same time, exhaling and holding for 10 to 30 seconds, repeating twice.

With a little warm up and these stretches, you’ll feel better on the first hole of every round.  For more information, or a customized golf stretching program, contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com!

The Importance of Stretching

Stretching prevents injury and soreness, improves range of motion and circulation, and gives you time to cool down from your workout.  Any one, of any age, can see big benefits from adding a stretching routine to their workouts.

One of the biggest benefits of regular stretching is an increase in flexibility, and without good flexibility, movements can be slowed and less fluid.  Improved range of motion makes everything from tying shoes to lifting groceries easier, and also helps prevent muscle strains or tears, damage to ligaments and other soft issue injuries.  The bigger ranges of motion that result from increased flexibility around joints will also improve coordination and balance, which is incredibly important when trying to prevent falls, especially in older populations.  Stretching also improves circulation by increasing blood flow to the working muscle, helping them receive needed nutrients and remove waste, like lactic acid.  Better posture and stress relief are more of the wonderful benefits you can get from regular stretching.  Tight muscles are the enemy of good posture, so stretching out can help you sit up straight and limit aches and pains.  When you’re feeling stressed, a few minutes of stretching will help tense muscles relax.

You can stretch a little bit before you workout as part of a solid warm-up and after your session as a cool down.  When you stretch for a warm-up, make sure you’ve done something to get your blood flowing already, such as five minutes on an elliptical.  Stretching cold muscles makes them prone to pulling or straining, which is exactly what you’re trying to prevent!  After you’ve loosened and warmed your muscles, you can give them a nice stretch before you hit the hard stuff, then you can be sure those working muscles are getting enough oxygen.  A light stretch before the tough stuff will also raise your heart rate slowly and safely.  Be careful not to stretch too much prior to your workout, as there is evidence suggesting that long, static stretching before a workout can lower strength gains by straining, and therefore weakening the muscle before you train.

Stretching properly is the key to seeing benefits, so here are some tips on how to do it the right way.  Take deep breaths and hold each stretch three times for 30 seconds, making sure to stretch both sides evenly.  Long, steady stretches are the way to, with no tugging or bouncing.  You should feel a stretch, not a pain or pull, if you do, stop immediately.  Make sure to stretch all over!  Quadriceps, hamstrings, groin, calves and lower back are some of the most important areas, especially when you’ve put your legs through the grinder with some hard cardio or a long run.  Lower back pain is often caused by tightness in hamstrings, lower back and hips, so stretching these areas can be a huge help.

For questions about, or help developing, a stretching program, send us an email!

Remember These Five Workout Tips

Choosing to embark on a fitness journey can be intimidating.  Getting and staying in shape takes time, energy and plenty of motivation.  Setting goals is easy, actually getting them is challenging.  Make sure any fitness goal you set is realistic, by achieving each goal you’ll stay motivated and see better results.  Seeing results is the best way to stay excited about hitting the gym, and preventing injuries is super important, so before you head out, here are five things you should be sure you include in your workout.

Warm up.  Getting loosened up prepares your body for a serious workout by increasing heart rate, range of motion and circulation.  This decreases the risk for injury and sets your muscles up to do some heavy lifting.

Proper technique.  Invest in a couple of sessions with a trainer or coach to learn the correct form and appropriate weight to use for exercises.  Learning proper technique is the key to preventing injury and seeing gains in strength.

Use heavy weights.  Lifting weights is wonderful, lofting heavy weights is even better.  To burn fat, metabolic rate has to increase.  A pound of muscle burns twice as many calories as a pound of fat, which will help speed up metabolism.  To ensure muscle growth, make sure you are using enough weight, if you can easily do fifteen repetitions, time to increase the weight.

Steer clear of the machines.  There are lots of strength machines in the gym, and while they look fun and exciting, they are bad news.  The majority of machines force your joints into unnatural positions, and isolate single muscles, which is not functional.  The goal of strength training is to make everyday activities easier, so stick with full body exercises like squats, deadlifts and pull-ups.

Mix it up.  Change your workout regularly by taking a group class once a week, seeing a trainer, or do something outside every now and then.  Trying something new prevents workout boredom and overtraining while continuing to challenge muscles and build strength.

Now you know what to avoid, so find a professional and get started!