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Your training routine – Its more than just “showing up”

Warm ups, Cool down, mobilise, and active recovery.  

4 Things you hear the Coaches at Athlete remind our members of constantly.  Not because we like to sound like a broken record.  But because it’s vital to your performance.  

Do you rush into your session with a few minutes to spare and do a quick jog, or a couple of stretches then get into it?

After your session, do you do 2 or 3 quick stretches if any at all?

Do you set time aside daily for active recovery?  Do you even know what active recovery is?

Chances are this is your standard routine….minimal warm up and cool down, no mobility, and no active recovery.  

With the ever increasing intensity of the sessions at Peak, the importance of having a complete regimen is paramount.   Not only does this reduce the risk of injury, but also the risk of illness as well.  When the body is constantly put under the stress of working out with little or no break,  your entire system is compromised and when it can’t take any more, will force you into a break anyway it can.  

So let’s look at what needs to happen either side of a workout to keep your body a happy camper?

WARM UP

Your muscles need at least 10-15 minutes prior to each session to increase blood flow, raise the temperature in your muscles and speed up your nerve impulses.   Jumping straight into a session is a recipe for injury.  If your muscles are “cold” and your nerves are still firing at half their speed, your body is totally ill prepared for the sudden requirement to lift or move at speed.  

So a light jog followed by several body weight exercises is a simple way to “ease” your body into the work that it’s about to do.  Then performing 3-4 sets of lightweight exercises that use the muscles required for that session, allowing the body to adapt even more to the stress it’s about to endure.  

MOBILITY (THIS IS THE BIG ONE!!)

Mobility sounds great, but how exactly does it differ from the stretches we’ve been doing for ages? And why should it also be part of your warm up routine??

Stretching normally focuses solely on the muscle itself. Mobility is a more all-encompassing practice that addresses multiple elements that influence performance.  This includes the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and the the joint and motor control necessary to perform a movement correctly.  

Therefore a warm up alone isn’t enough.  Once the temperature of the muscles has been raised it’s then important to then make sure your joints have good range of movement prior to jumping into the session.  For example – if you are squatting and you have difficulty reaching full depth, the hips, hamstrings, and glutes may need extra attention by doing things such as light goblet squats, pistol squats, and leg swings beforehand to free up the range of motion so you hit depth.   Ignoring these warning signs and jumping under the bar and forcing the rep or not bothering going to depth is a pointless way to train.  

On that note too, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having to stop and spending an entire session working purely on mobility if there’s a serious imbalance.  It’s not a wasted session, it could mean the difference between you being able to turn up next time!

But how do you go about improving mobility??

Work mobility into your routine.

While mobility exercises can be extremely beneficial, initially, we don’t  want you to work on mobility exercises all day, every day.  Think of mobility as a piece to your training puzzle. Get in the gym to see how you’re moving and what needs some work. Then, work on those specific elements with targeted mobility work. Repeat each session as necessary.  

Mobility work shouldn’t feel overwhelming. Regardless of how inflexible you might think you are, you won’t need to spend hours a day to reap the benefits. You just need to start somewhere.

Make mobility personal

While our joints might function similarly on the surface, our bones, ligaments and tendons are all slightly different. This means a mobility exercise that works well for your fellow gym goers,  might not be suited for you.   You have to pick the right exercise for the person, and not the other way around. You’re in charge of deciding what specific area of the body you need to work on most. You’re also responsible for how far you push yourself into the movement.

Take your time

You should hold positions beyond the typical “30 seconds”. One of the biggest errors that often occurs  is that people don’t mobilize long enough to actually make change.  Holding a position for two minutes or longer gives the tissues a chance to adapt and you a chance to get comfortable.

Tune into pain.

Pain is a telltale indicator that a specific area needs some work. If, say you put a ball on the back of your shoulder to address the soft tissue there, and you find anything that’s painful, you tend to stop.  But That’s the place you have to work!

That doesn’t mean all pain is good pain, though. Too much pain actually works against you. The body’s natural instinct is to guard itself and protect itself. It’s going to push back and get tighter. So how much pain is too much pain?   Stay away from anything that hurts excessively. If you’re feeling a burning nerve pain, for example, that’s probably too far.

FINALLY COOL DOWN AND ACTIVE RECOVERY  

I’ve literally seen millions of occasions where clients finish a session, say goodbye and jump straight in the car and go home.  

While you may not “feel” like you need a cool down regime when you complete a session, not having one is your quickest road to poor mobility and those little niggles that start appearing out of nowhere.   When you finish a session there is a build up of all sorts of different chemicals in your body such as lactic acid, not to mention blood pumping fast through the body and elevated heart rate.  Going for a slow walk after the session and then stretching for 10-15mins afterwards allows the muscles to gradually cool down, the heart rate to drop and the body to rid itself of waste products accumulated during the session.

I’ve had many clients who have raced out after a session and report vomiting and feeling faint minutes later while trying to drive home.  The stomach is actually allergic to Lactic acid (a byproduct of working hard), so when a client leaves without gradually easing the body into recovery, the acid continues to build until the body has no choice but to get rid of it the fastest way possible!  Through your mouth!  


Aside from the physiological reasons to cool down, any muscles that feel tight or fatigued should be stretched or massaged (foam roller, mobility balls etc).  Ignoring tension in the muscles will lead to further tension as your body returns to its basic functioning temperature, increasing your risk of injury in future sessions, or sometimes causing a muscle to seize completely out of the blue.   

Not performing an adequate cool down can also prolong the duration and severity of muscle soreness in the following days.   Continuing to then put those muscles under more strain by showing up to sessions again and again compromises strength and technique and before you know it? Injury.  

Active recovery outside of your sessions is also a great way to minimise muscle soreness and to keep the body loose and limber.   And it can be as simple as taking the dog for an easy stroll, walk on the beach or low gradient trail, swimming, or even more stretching or massage.  You don’t need to get the heart pounding every day to get results.  

So if you are experiencing muscles soreness, tightness, any niggling pain or discomfort, PM the Coaches here at Athlete and we can have a chat about your training regime.

 

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