We are all trying to get more out of our workouts, but one of the things we don’t want is to sustain an injury. Like anything else we do in life, organization is key. An organized plan for your workout sessions will provide a more consistent and effective workout , but more importantly, will also help prevent injury.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends doing a proper warm up, cool down, and stretching exercises to reduce your chances of injury while trying to become fit.1 I also highly recommend working with a certified fitness trainer who can help you design a program with all of these components and who can make sure you are using good form when executing exercises.
First, you and your trainer should determine how much time you have available and identify your priorities (what you want out of your training). From there, exercises that are going to help you achieve your specific goals are chosen.
It becomes easier to outline a simple training session once you have determined time available, priority components, and what exercises to utilize.
The 3-Part Plan
Most workouts are divided into 3 parts: Pre-Workout, Main Session, and Post-Workout. Each part is important for the development of the whole body, and when properly designed, will not only help you achieve your fitness goals, but will incorporate injury prevention exercises. The following overview will give you guideline on how I design a 60-minute training session for clients, and could be used to help you work with a trainer to organize well-planned sessions.
The Pre-Workout 10 Minutes
Activation. These drills help with the activation of the central nervous system and allow the muscles to fire and wake up prior to activity. We utilize exercises that stimulate the lower back, lower and upper abdominals, upper shoulders, and hips.
Torso Training. A strong mid-section is the link between the upper and lower body. This has become a crucial part of a training session due to the current research and the benefits that it provides to the total development of the body.
Mobility Drills. Our mobility drills are designed to mobilize the torso and hips through range of motion exercises that include hurdles, tubing, medicine balls, and standard/mini barbells.
The Main Session 45 Minutes
Our goal is to train the entire body during each session. The specific routines will vary based on your individual goals and your existing strengths and weaknesses. We incorporate both bi-lateral and uni-lateral exercises that will stimulate the whole body, with the goal being to increase work capacity without sacrificing technical efficiency of exercises. These training sessions are done in an up-tempo fashion that stimulates multiple muscles and helps accelerate post-exercise metabolism.
The Post Workout 5 Minutes
The post workout may not take much time but is extremely important.
Joint Integrity. Joint integrity exercises are used to strengthen the small stabilizing muscles of the most injury-prone areas. We focus on the ankles, knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders. These are usually small in movement, but a high number of reps are done.
Static Flexibility. Stretching should be done post-workout since the muscles are warmest after training. A static post workout stretch has been shown to bring muscle to resting length and allow the body to relax. We usually do stretches for the low back, hamstrings, quads, shoulders, chest, and neck.
There are many ways to organize your training session, but this framework incorporates exercises for all the elements of fitness, not just weight management and muscle strength/toning, but proper warm up/activation, and development of core strength, joint integrity, and overall flexibility. By following this plan, it will not only help prevent exercise-induced injuries, but will reduce the likelihood of injuries that can occur in everyday activities.
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