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Happy New Year from us at Capital Physio, we hope you had a wonderful Christmas! As we enter January we all have new goals and resolutions to kick off the New Year to a good start.

Many people want to improve/change their lifestyle by embarking on a new exercise regime in January; this generally involves a gym membership. Some of you may be new to the gym or have not been for a long time and be out of sync. This is where I am going to discuss a few simple but effective lessons with you to make sure you stick to it, enjoy it and prevent injury.

Lesson 1 – Do what you enjoy!

  • There is nothing less motivating than going to a gym and attending that dreaded spin class for example because you are told it is the only thing that will help. You are unlikely to stick to it and you’ll likely associate the gym with negative thoughts and not want to go.
  • Swimming, cardio machines, body weight exercise, free weights, classes and weight machines can all help you with fat loss, keeping fit and muscle gains depending on what your goal is. Therefore there are many ways to meet your goal with something you enjoy doing.
  • Set a goal that is not too hard to achieve. For example: Be able to attend the gym 3 times a week or completing at least 20 minutes of cardio at the gym 2-3 times a week.

Lesson 2 – warm up and cool down

Warming up and cooling down are both very important to prevent injury when you train. If you go straight in to exercising a cold muscle it increases your risk of injury. Cooling down is also really important to help relax your muscles after exercising and to prevent delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). Your body will thank you after doing this and you’ll feel a lot better for it.

Warming up:

  • At least 6 minutes of exercises that raise your heart rate gradually in a dynamic form
  • Doing a warm up specific to what you are about to do. For example see our blog on ‘Dynamic warm up for Runners’

Cool down:

  • Cool downs are the reverse to a warm up, you want to reduce your heart rate
  • Static stretches on the specific muscle groups that you have been working out are used to cool down at least 2 sets of 30 seconds on each muscle group should be performed
  • Another form of loosening muscles off after exercise is using a foam roller. To find out more about how to use these check with the personal trainer on site

If you are unsure of what to do for warm up and cool downs also speak to the gym instructor/Personal trainer that is in and they can go through these with you.

Lesson 3 – what type of exercise to do

There is no right or wrong with exercise it is more about what you enjoy and what you want to achieve. Unless you have been told otherwise by a healthcare professional, in this case you would need to seek advice on what you can and can not do.

Cardio Machines

Some benefits:

  • Stronger heart and lungs
  • Increased bone density
  • Weight loss
  • Reduces stress
  • Better sleep

Short sharp bursts of this type of exercise are more effective than long and slow for fat burning. This is known as interval training. If you have a painful knee, hip, ankle or back for example you may be better at doing lower impact cardio such as cycling, rowing or a cross trainer to reduce the likelihood of flaring up your symptoms.

Weight lifting (free weights, body weight and machines)

Some benefits:

  • Lose body fat
  • Decrease risk of osteoporosis
  • Increased calorie burning
  • Improves posture
  • Increases strength
  • Increases metabolism

If you are not comfortable with using weights you are better starting on fixed weight machines. This will allow you to lift weight without going wrong with technique.  If you still feel unsure or would like to use free weights it is important you speak to one of the personal trainers so they can teach you how to safely use the machines or carry out free weight exercises.

DO NOT lift too heavy too soon. Trying to lift a heavier weight because you are ‘worried about everyone is looking at you’ or ‘you want to get bigger quicker’ is not going to help.

Most people are in the gym like you are there for themselves and they will not be looking at you and judging. You will also not get bigger quicker by lifting a weight your body is not ready for, you are very likely to injure yourself which means time out from the gym. If you lift too heavy you will recruit the wrong muscles and will most likely cause injury to your body also.

Yoga and Pilates

Some benefits:

  • Increases flexibility
  • Stress reliever
  • Meditation
  • Strengthens your core muscles
  • Improves balance and body awareness
  • Improves posture

Yoga and Pilates are for both men and women and classes these days are full of mixed genders. They have become very popular over the past 5 years and majority of athletes incorporate these into their strength and conditioning programmes to enhance their performance.

Combining these different types of exercises can be highly complimentary to your workouts. If you perform the same work out regularly the exercises become easier, your body’s nervous system, muscles and other physiological systems can adapt within 6-8 weeks. This means your fitness level will plateau therefore changing your routine regularly is really important.

For more details on specifics a 1:1 with a good personal trainer can be invaluable to have a programme made to suit you and learn more about repetitions and sets.

Lesson 4 – Allow your body to recover

Recovery is key to reducing the risk of injury, improving your workouts and facilitates progression. A lot of the benefits you gain from the gym happen outside of the gym. So there is no need to pressure your self to go to the gym everyday of the week. Anything between 2-4 times a week is usually average and what you need to reach targets set and gain improvements depending on what you do in those sessions. Listen to your body!

If you have any current areas of pain it would be worth seeking advice through a physiotherapist first to gain an understanding of the cause of your pain and we will be able to advise what to avoid at the gym and give you some exercises you can do both at the gym and at home to rehabilitate your problem and keep you fit at the same time.

If you would like to know more about us please contact our Client Care team directly on 0330 333 0435.

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