January is a month filled with fresh starts and thoughts of new beginnings, more commonly referred to as New Year’s Resolutions. Although New Year’s Resolutions come in all shapes and sizes, a healthier lifestyle seems to top the charts each year leading to packed gym and training centers and sneakers and workout equipment flying off the shelves. It is important to remember though, that even with the best intentions (and the most stylish sneakers) injuries can happen and can prevent you from reaching your goals. Below are a couple of tips that will hopefully lead to an injury free, happy and healthy 2018.
- SET & KNOW YOUR GOALS: Sit down with a pen and paper and write out what you are looking to accomplish. Having specific goals, whether it be increasing muscle mass or prolonging your cardiovascular endurance, writing down those goals and consulting with the appropriate healthcare professional will help you to stay on track and see your progress along the way.
- WARM UP AND COOL DOWN: Complete a proper warm up for the type of exercise program that you will be following that day. Readying the body or increasing blood flow to the muscle, in the form of static and dynamic stretches as well as plyometrics, will “warm up” the body’s musculature and in turn decrease the chances of sustaining a sidelining injury (i.e. strains and sprains).
- START OUT SLOW: We all know the popular saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and we need to remember to apply that same thought process to our bodies as well. Physiologically, it takes the body six weeks to gain any type of increase in muscle endurance and strength no matter how many hours you spent working out or how many pounds you lifted in one day. If you are a beginner, begin training with shortened sessions and lower weights and gradually progress and if you are returning to your exercise program after a long absence don’t jump back in where you left off; scale back your workout and apply the same gradual progression as that of a beginner.
- CROSS-TRAIN: Most people continuously do the same type of workout with the same repetitions, resistance and rate because they are comfortable with it. As we have learned from research over the years, the body needs to be placed under differentiating types of demands to prevent the dreaded plateau and to reach advanced physiological levels. It is my recommendation to cross-train, or switch up your workout routines, aerobically with different cardiovascular formats such as cycling, running and swimming and anaerobically, with resistive training utilizing different body movements, repetitions and weights. Switching from aerobic to anaerobic type exercises every other day and incorporating your rest days will be your key to success!
Couple the tips and suggestions above with a balanced nutrition and hydration plan and sleep schedule and you will be well on your way to a happy, healthy 2018!