We’ve discussed the benefits of exercise and the importance of proper hydration stretching. Now its time to get into the gym. You must remember that even this is a three-step process — warm up, workout, and cool down. I’m going to look at these one at a time and suggest good gym habits that’ll help you stay fit and injury free.
Getting the right equipment is the first thing. This includes a gym bag big enough for your change of clothes, your gym towel (normally a hand towel), your bath towel (if you intend to shower at the gym), your water bottle and energy drink powder, comfortable clothing to train in, and any monitoring equipment that you need.
Once your bag is packed, we can fast forward to the gym. The first thing to do here is warm up real well. This allows your body to go from a state of general functioning to a state ready for exercise. This involves raising your body temperature, stretching joints and muscles, and engaging your core so you are ready to push your body to its limits safely.
I would suggest you take 15-20 minutes for your warm up.
Start with a 10-minute treadmill run. Begin at a comfortable walking speed (about 4 on the dial) and build this up gradually until you are jogging comfortably after about 8 minutes. Sustain this for two minutes and then decrease speed to a walk again. After 10 minutes you should be sweating slightly. Get off the treadmill and move to a place where you can stretch comfortably. Do 5 -10 minutes of dynamic stretching to prepare your muscles and joints.
If you’re about to do an upper body session I suggest 20 arm circles in each direction, neck rolls, 10-15 push-ups and a Surya Namaskar on each side. This will take your upper body through the full range of movement.
For a lower body workout, I suggest 20 ankle circles while balancing on the other leg, 10 full squats with hands behind your head, lying on your back to hug each knee to your chest 6 times, lying your back and rolling your knees to each side 6 times, and one Surya Namaskar each side.
If you’re still not sweating by this time, get back on the treadmill or use the rowing machine for 5 minutes (at about 75% of maximum).
Once your body is warm and your heart is beating at a strong but comfortable pace, it means plenty of blood is getting pumped into your muscles and that your joints are lubricated and ready to move through the range that you will need.
Here are things to remember:
1 Must be sweating lightly, muscles must feel warm and stretched fully
2 Must feel that stiffness in joints has eased and must be breathing about 25-50% harder than normal.
(Matthews is physiotherapist with the Mittal Champions Trust)