Getting started with a workout program can be as challenging mentally as it is physically. One way to combat both is by devoting five minutes at the beginning of your workout to a proper warmup. Any kind of dynamic warmup (elliptical, bike or even walking the track) will elevate your heart rate, which helps warm up the muscles. Warm muscles work better so this is a very important step.
Once you begin your workout, finding the proper workout intensity is key. When doing resistance exercises, you want the last 3-5 reps to be challenging. If you did 15 reps and feel like you could do 5 more, either do the extra reps or increase the resistance. When doing aerobic activity, you should pick an intensity that forces you to breathe harder, but not so much that you can’t keep up with your breath. As a general rule, if you can talk comfortably, the intensity isnt enough… if you cannot talk at all, it’s too much!
Following your workout with a good cooldown is almost as important as your warmup. Finish with some light cardio and stretching to help prevent your body from getting too sore the next day and to let the muscle rebuild in a full range of motion. After a muscle gets worked, it tightens up and stretching at the end of the workout (not the beginning) is the best way to prevent injuries from occurring after your workout.
About the author: Ricky Buoncore is a Personal Trainer at Western Reserve Racquet & Fitness Club.