Your full-body workout is best performed in these six stages:
Stage 1: Warm-up Activity
Purpose: To increase blood flow to the working muscles; increase the ability of the musculature to contract; and to decrease the chance for injury.
Suggestions: 5 to 8 minutes of brisk walking, jogging, biking, etc.
Stage 2: Aerobic Activity
Purpose: To increase efficiency of the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, to burn excess calories, increase metabolic rate, reduce body fat and increase muscular endurance.
Suggestions: Swimming, running, walking, rowing, ellipticals, biking and steppers are all examples of aerobic workouts. Strive for 20-40 minutes, 3-5 times per week. Stay within your target heart rate/training zone guidelines.
Stage 3: Aerobic Cool Down Activity
Purpose: The cool down activity immediately follows the aerobic component of your workout. The purpose is to allow the heart rate/pulse rate to return as close as possible to a pre-exercise level. Example: After jogging, bring your pace down to a walking level and continue to walk for 5 to 8 minutes.
Stage 4: Strength Training Activity
Purpose: To increase both muscular strength and muscular tone, thus decreasing percentage of body fat.
Suggestions: Maximum results can be obtained by using the strength training equipment 3 days per week, while allowing for one day of rest between workouts. Example: Working out Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Alternatives include splitting strength workouts into varying exercises or muscle groups to lift more days per week, but still allowing adequate rest for each muscle group. Example: Monday: Chest and biceps, Tuesday: Back and triceps, Wednesday: Legs
Stage 5: Abdominal and Low Back Exercises
Purpose: To develop support in the torso and to prevent weakness in the lumbar region through conditioning and stretching exercises.
Suggestions: Abdominal crunches, Oblique crunches, Back- pelvic tilts lying on the floor, and various back stretches.
Stage 6: Stretching
Purpose: To increase overall flexibility (range of motion), promote circulation -- and when performed following your strength training workout -- decrease muscular soreness.
Suggestions: Relax - never hold your breath. Ease into and out of all stretches. For maximum benefit, perform stretches when you are still warm. Hold static stretches for 15 to 30 seconds- never bounce or pulse. Perform stretches on both sides of the body.
WHO SHOULD STRETCH
Everyone can learn to stretch, regardless of age or flexibility. The methods are gentle and easy, conforming to individual differences in muscle tension and flexibility.
WHEN TO STRETCH
Stretching can be done any time you feel like it. Here are some examples:
• In the morning before the start of the day.
• At work to release nervous tension.
• After sitting or standing for a long time.
• When you feel stiff.
Stretching helps relax your mind and tunes up your body. You will find that regular stretching will do the following things:
• Reduce muscle tension and make your body feel more relaxed.
• Help improve coordination.
• Increase range of motion.
• Help prevent injuries such as muscle strains.
• Help maintain your current level of flexibility.
• Develop body awareness as you stretch various parts of the body.
• Feel good
HOW TO STRETCH
Stretching is easy to learn, but there is a right way and a wrong way to stretch. The right way is a relaxed, sustained stretch with your attention focused on the muscles being stretched. The wrong way is to bounce up and down or to stretch to the point of pain: these methods can actually do more harm than good.
If you stretch correctly and regularly, you will find that every movement you make becomes easier. It will take time to loosen up tight muscles or muscle groups.
THE EASY STRETCH
When you begin to stretch, spend 10-15 seconds in the easy stretch. No bouncing! Go to the point where you feel a mild tension, and relax as you hold the stretch. The feeling of tension should subside as you hold the position. If it does not, ease off slightly and find a degree of tension that is comfortable. You should be able to say, "I feel the stretch, but it is not painful."