Warm-Up and Pre-Activity Stretching

Starting each training session with a warm-up activity that elevates your body core temperature is a good training strategy. Move enough to start a light sweat and increase blood flow to joints and working muscles. Large multi-joint movements, rhythmic in nature help to raise the body’s core temperature, as well as the rate of respiration and blood circulation.

Blood flow to the target muscles enhances energy transport and the clearing of lactic acid. Stretching a cold muscle is likely to cause discomfort if not injury. The body tissues become more elastic as core temperature increases. When stretching as part of a warm-up, be careful not to push a good thing too far. Take each joint through a complete (optimal) ROM range of motion, in preparation of strength exercise.

There are many different strategies for strength exercise. The basic fact is that if a muscle is stimulated by an increasing workload, it will become stronger. Repetitions (REPS), Sets (of repetitions) SETS (LOAD- lbs-Kg). Rest between Sets and between workout sessions is critical to adequate recovery. When a maximum effort (training to failure) is made during a strength training session, enough time must be allotted for recuperation. When the training effort is sub maximal, less recovery is needed.

To determine the Load or working weight that you should select when just starting out, rather than doing a maximum lift test that determines your maximum lifting capacity for “any” given exercise, follow prudence and start with a load that allows you to perform the exercise with correct form and forces to a point of fatigue after 10-15 repetitions. After training for a while you can more safely perform a 1RM or one time maximum lift. When you have an indication of what your one time lift capacity is, you can then determine the load percentage based on the total volume (Reps-Sets-Load) for each exercise. The advantage of higher loads is that you can train explosively through a full range of motion, and thus maximally stimulate the greatest percentage of muscle fibers possible. This protocol is geared to individuals who wish to increase their strength and power. The total volume of training is dependant on the accumulative amount of work performed. Reps-Sets-Load (including number of circuits where applicable), vary depending on the individual’s state of fitness as well as their fitness / sports goals.

Breathing technique is an important component of correct exercise technique. Improper breathing patterns lead to early fatigue and lowers performance. Exhale just after the point of greatest effort and perform a recovery breath just prior to the start of the next lifting motion.

Training tempo also varies with the training modality. Circuits are normally performed more rapidly than isolation exercises, with some trainer’s advocating super slow lifting tempo. All lifts should be performed under control at all times (As a rule I like a lift in 3 counts and lower in 4 counts).

Training Options

* Aerobic Super Circuit:
* 50% 1RM Load 25 Reps / 30 seconds + 30-60 seconds of cardio training.
* Peripheral Heart Action Circuit:
* 40-70% 1RM 15 –30 sec. Rest. 0f 20-30 seconds between sets.

* Isolation training:
* Repeat same sets at 10-15 Reps at 70-85% Max for 3-5 Sets per exercise.


A general cool-down is advised after training, with specific stretches to target particular muscles and joints.

A good way to maintain flexibility, and avoid blood pooling is to gradually taper down your movement intensity, then follow with some recovery stretches for 10-30 seconds in each position.

Sample Program

It is a great idea to make periodic changes (i.e. every six weeks) to the program that you are following in order to maximize the body’s process of adaptation. If you have a goal in mind then your program should be designed to steer you in that direction. All too often people stagnate in the way they approach their training and worse yet sometimes don’t have much of a plan at all. Goals should reflect the acronomym, S.M.A.R.T. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and within a specific Time period.

Author: Peter Churchill C.S.C.S. Director of the “Studio A” High Performance Centre in Beaconsfield, Quebec (514) 694-1411

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