Friday 9 December 2016

Getting My Sweat On: Warm Up Properly Before Exercise – Or Else!

Do you use a foam roller? If not, pick one up the next time you hit the gym and have a go. I guarantee you’ll love it!

Rocking up and down on a roller not only feels awesome, but it’ll do your body oodles of good too. It helps to warm up muscles before exercise and aid their recovery after, so you’ll train more effectively and reduce the risk of injury. It’s one of those win-win scenarios.

I use one every time I train - on my legs, lower back and shoulders (avoid the spine). There’s some debate over whether it’s best to form roll before or after exercise. I do both - not really to hedge bets but because I love it so much.

I also have a roller at home. Now here’s an embarrassing admission: I rarely use it! I’m hopeless at disciplining myself to exercise outside of the gym – I should be continuing with my physio stretches at home but often forget to do them or do them half-heartedly. Oops!

A physio got me into foam rolling a few years back and I’ve used one ever since. So why mention it now? Well, training this month has focused heavily on establishing a good warm-up regime. My PT Jake at Halo Gym has really instilled in me the importance of making sure my muscles are properly prepped before I begin lifting weights – especially crucial for me with my recent hip issues but it’s a rule that applies universally.

Warm-up and cool down play big parts in my training. I start every session by jumping on a cross trainer for five minutes, then follow with stretches (upper and lower body including bodyweight squats, hip flexor stretches and back stretches), and finally the foam roller.  To cool down after training I do 10 minutes of cardio (usually spin) followed by stretches and the foam roller again. Job done!

Back squats
Last month we re-introduced squats back into my leg/glute exercise portfolio and Jake got me doing overhead squats as part of my warm-up too. I’ve never done them before and they’re… awesome (see fave exercise). I did 60 overheads in total and here’s the thing – they were all to warm up my muscles and keep my body stable before attempting back squats!
Seated Cable Rows

Elsewhere, upper body and core training remain my mainstay as I continue  to pick up leg work again slowly, ie safely.  New exercises here include seated cable rows and seated rope crunches (though the latter defeated me – more on that in a min). 

Fave Exercise – Overhead squats  

Worth doing just for that ‘ooh ah’ moment as you lower into the squat and push the bar slightly behind you. The stretch you feel in your back is… morning sunshine!

Most Embarrassing Oops! Moment – Seated Rope Crunch 

You know how it is: everything runs smoothly during your PT sesh but then when you’re off training by yourself… it all falls apart… enter the seated rope crunch. I just couldn’t get my head around this, how to place the rope across my shoulders, even when Jake explained it all to me again. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat and move on… we’ve now replaced the rope with a resistance band attached to the cable machine.

One to try – Foam Roller

Go on… you’ll love it!

Fitness Find of the Month - MOMA (Making Oats More Awesome) Super Seeds Porridge

Porridge is a great fitness food because it contains slow releasing complex carbs, helping to sustain energy levels throughout training. But what do you do when there’s no milk in the fridge? Easy, keep a few packs of MOMA in the cupboard - they come with powdered milk thrown in, so all you need add is a splash of hot water. Tadah! Buy here.

You can follow my fitness journey on Instagram here.
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