Warming up & Stretching
The muscle exercises selected for this website are very dynamic. Before performing these exercises it is necessary to carefully and properly warm up all the muscles, joints and ligaments.
Not only does a warming-up limit the chances of sustaining injuries, it also assists the body to perform at a higher level of intensity. There are in fact two ways to warm up the muscles:
The first one is to do a few exercises designed to effect a rise in body temperature. In addition, warming-up exercises cause more oxygen to be transported to the muscles. Examples of such exercises are: rope-skipping, cycling or jogging. These exercises instantly speed up the circulation of the blood and enhance muscle elasticity.
The second way is more directly linked to certain specific exercises and is also simple. Before starting a basic exercise you may perform a number of repetitions or sets on a machine to warm-up the relevant muscle-group, whilst monotonously preparing the muscle for the work to be done.
An example of how you may prepare the chest muscles for bench-pressing exercises: do two sets using an empty or near empty bar prior to the sets noted on your workout schedule. These warming-up sets specifically prepare the chest muscles.
After the warm-up carry out the exercise whilst gradually increasing the weight. These warming-up sets should noticeably activate the muscles. If need be, add a light weight. On cold days you may even carry on until you begin to perspire. This is a good indication that you are well warmed-up.
The warming-up exercises are monotonous and repetitive. While doing these sets, use the time to visualize the performance of your workout.
There is a universal truth which is applicable to warming-up: you can never start out with too little weight, but you can easily start out with too much weight!
Remember then to start out gently and to gradually build up the amount of weight. It is better to do an extra set than to start out straightaway with too much weight. It is advisable to do the first type of warming-up exercises before your workout and the second type while performing the exercises noted on your workout schedule.
chest and back
Stretching is necessary and at the same time acts as a buffer neutralizing the negative effects of intensive training. When training intensively, all kinds of waste accumulates in the muscles.
These substances lengthen the time required for repairing the micro-lacerations, which are – purposefully – caused by an intensive fitness program. Stretching is a way to speed up the repair process, to strengthen your connective tissue (tissue connecting muscle to the joint) and to remove harmful waste.
And a positive side-effect of it is that it simply makes you feel better!
Stretching should always be done from a stationary position moving in a slow and controlled fashion. Concentrate on stretching the muscle with the utmost care. Continue the stretching movement right up to the point where you feel the muscle starts to tense up. If you overstretch, the body will automatically send a reflex signal causing the muscle to tense up.
triceps and biceps
By performing the exercise slowly you can reach the point where you can comfortably stretch the muscle to its maximum without overstretching it. Contrary to weight training exercises, repetition of stretch exercises will only yield extra advantages. Because muscle tissue does not have to recover from stretch exercises, you may stretch as often as you like.
quadriceps, hamstrings and calves
One of the best moments to stretch is during your workout. The rest period in between two sets of exercises is the ideal moment to stretch the muscles you were training. In this way you increase the flexibility of the exercise whilst preventing the muscles from shortening before you carry on training with more weight.
Remember the following rules:
- Avoid forced or jerky movements. Stretch in a slow and controlled manner.
- Hold the stretch position for a couple of seconds; 2 to 5 seconds are enough, but you may hold for longer.
- Do not overstretch! Stretching in between sets and later in the day after an intensive workout reduces muscular pain during the following days.
Warming-up and stretching will eventually enable you to train better and to stimulate muscle development more effectively.
Author: Tobias van der Avort