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The next fitness topic to explore is the warm up; is this as vital as we are led to believe? The answer is yes, but not for too long. Basic movement preparation is the best way of warming up, and is practiced by many top athletes. This switches on the muscle groups that you will be using during exercise. A few repetitions of the exercises that you will be doing, done with a slow steady tempo at first and then gradually increasing the pace is enough to warm up the muscles and joints. There is usually an inverse ratio of warm up to duration and intensity of exercise. So if you are doing a maximum effort for a short time, like a 100m sprint, then the warm up will need to be a lot longer than the actual event, half an hour or so. Or longer. Conversely if you are running a marathon then the warm up needs to be shorter, as the event is so long. Also to be noted is that stretching before exercise is a contentious issue; the latest research says that static stretching before a race or event can actualy decrease performance in the muscles, and it’s much more beneficial doing this sort of stretching AFTER a race when the muscles are totaly warmed up. I recently did the cancer research 10k at Dorney lake with a personal trainer cilent from Windsor, and the warm up was both long and vigorous, not the best way to prepare for a midle distance event! Many of the runners looked worn out ater the warm up!! So use common sense, and do the right amount for the particular thing that you are doing, keeping in mind the inverse ratio. A good guide if you are using a heart rate monitor is to warm up to twice resting heart rate. This level can also be a good area for recovery between intervals if you are doing that sort of training.