The importance & benefits of pre/post workout stretching

importance of mobility and stretching

If you're trying to improve your performance in the gym there is one simple thing you may skipping that would make all the difference - a proper stretch! Most people go to the gym to workout. Raising the heart rate and getting a sweat on is the main goal. A lot of people are also trying to juggle time, with the most important things taking priority. This leaves stretching to fall by the wayside because it doesn't seem as time-productive as a good workout. However, focusing on moving and stretching gently before and after exercise has many benefits, especially on improving your performance. 

The main reason we mobilise and stretch is to reduce injury. When we exercise or stretch cold muscles they are far more likely to tear. Before a pre-workout stretch it is important to do a quick warm up, followed by dynamic, moving stretches that mobilise the muscles you will be using in the workout. This helps to make muscles more pliable, preventing tearing. It can also be helpful to practice the movement patterns you will be using in your workout. 

If muscles have been contracted a lot during exercise it is important to lengthen them after your workout through maintenance stretches, which should be held for 10-15 seconds. This prevents muscles and joints from straining, especially in problematic areas such as lower backs. A good stretch also helps to reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which otherwise can last for days! Reduced injury time or DOMS also means more time in the gym. A few minutes before or after each workout could save you days or even weeks out following an injury. 

Aside from injury prevention, mobilising and stretching are the best way to increase range of motion (ROM). This can have a massive impact on your exercise ability, especially when it comes to lifting weights. Increasing hip mobility to move deeper into a squat,  being able to straighten your arms for that push press or snatch and stretching your hip-flexors so you can move into a lunge or front squat whilst keeping your body upright all make a huge difference to your performance.

Stretching increases body awareness and proprioception, which again helps with your form during exercise and builds muscle memory. Being able to feel the position of your body in space, from your feet through to your head, is critical to maintaining optimum body positions. We don't always have a mirror to tell us what our body is doing! 

Spending time focusing on the whole movement and muscles involved and stretching clearly has many benefits, not just to your body but also to your performance. Make the most of this time and you will reap the rewards in your training. 

Join us this September for a workshop dedicated to functional mobility and stretching, where we will guide you through key movements to prevent injury and improve your performance so that you get the most out of your training, maybe even increasing your max weights.

Top tips for motivating yourself to exercise

fitness motivation

Despite being fitness professionals, we do know how hard it can be to motivate yourself both to do a workout and to do it properly! We have struggled to put our trainers on and get down to the gym, often snowed under by a pile of work that seems more imortant than our health and wellbeing. Here are our top tips for keeping yourself motivated to exercise:

Have a goal: without a goal, it can seem like there isn't any point. Whether it's to beat your personal best at running 5km, lifting a heavier weight or running a marathon, from long term goals to short term ones, keeping your eye on the prize definitely helps to get you in the training zone. 

Have a routine: Although it is important to mix up your workouts so that your body doesn't plateau, it's also beneficial to have some structure to the days you workout - what you do during those workouts is a different matter. Whether you go to the gym every Tuesday evening, head out for a jog every Thursday lunchtime or go to a yoga class every Saturday, sticking to a routine can help to keep you on track, especially when you feel like curling up under the duvet. 

Remember that exercise releases endorphins: Those wonderful hormones that get us buzzing are easy to produce. All you need to do is move your body! Sometimes we avoid exercise because we feel tired, and there are times when it is really important to listen to our bodies and respect this. However  often at the end of a long day, especially if we have a sedentary job, we feel tired because our bodies have gone into a mini-hibernation. Waking ourselves up with a bit of exercise can give us a new lease of life at 6pm. Rememeber this when you feel like avoiding the gym! 

Know your bodyclock and your priorities: Some people are wide awake first thing in the moring (me) and others and sloth-like until lunchtime (Ross)!! Know yourself and when is the best time for you to workout. Personally, whilst I find that I am alert in the mornings this is the best time for me to do admin, answer emails and get myself sorted for the day ahead. If I have time once I've done this I will do some exercise, but I find it easier to dedicate the time at the end of the day when I have tied up work and can relax. We are all different - work out what works for you, and try to stick to it. 

Have a training buddy: Whether a best friend or a personal trainer, having someone there to keep you motivated when you are exercising can be crucial to helping you stay motivated. Plus they tend to make things more fun! 

Join a class: Exercise classes can be a great way to keep you motivated. If you have commited to a course it will make it a little harder for you to skip sessions, which in the end is what you want. Having some flexibility is great, but we see all too often people making a start and then letting life get in the way before the habit of exercise has taken hold. When we exercise in groups we are also spurred on by the others, encouraged to push ourselves that tiny bit further... and it's these moments that make all the difference. 

If you feel like you need some extra motivation to get you started or keep you on the fitness wagon why not join one of our group fitness classes, or get a proper kick-start with personal training?! 

The benefits of group exercise

benefits of group fitness

When you go to the gym, do you end up doing the same routine? Or do you get distracted before you even leave the house and put it off till tomorrow? It may well be time to find some fitness companions! 

From an industry perspective, group exercises refers to a fitness session coach by a qualified instructor. This can be anything from a yoga class to a running club. There are many benefits to taking part in group sessions, most notable the social interaction. Having others around helps to make exercise fun, and let's face it if we enjoy something we are more likely to carry on doing it.

When it comes to working out on your own it can be difficult to keep the momentum up. Whether it's a personal trainer that you feel accountable to, a workout buddy or an exercise group, having other people around is one of the biggest motivators that often prevents you from falling off the fitness wagon.  It also encourages you to push yourself further and get more out of your workout. 

Group exercise lets you be guided by the expert, taking part in safely constructed, balanced fitness sessions that will really help you to get results. Going to the gym is one thing, knowing what to do when you are there is another! Sessions allow you to switch off as you are told what to do, which for many can be more relaxing. It can also give you ideas to then take back into your gym or home workout and do yourself. 

For many, exercising on your own gets boring. Without a constant supply of new workouts or running routes your own sessions can quickly become repetitive. It is easy to reach a plateau if you are not varying what you are doing in the gym and you soon find you are doing the same workout each time and yet seeing no weight loss or muscle gain. Classes help to overcome this as they should be carefully programmed to help you to develop. 

Whilst we do a lot of 1:1 sessions at Inergise Training, we also love working with groups and seeing the enjoyment it brings people. Above all, it is an affordable way to get a professional service, sharing this with others. With group fitness sessions running in Worthing, Littlehampton, Arundel and Horsham plus the option of creating your own group with some friends, there is no excuse not to join us! 






How do I take up running safely?


Running is one of the simplest forms of exercise and, when done correctly, a great way to keep fit. Without gym fees and the need for fancy kit, it's a great activity for anyone to take up. But how do you start running and ensure you don't hurt yourself? 

Injuries from running are common! As a yoga teacher as well as a personal trainer, I hear A LOT of people tell me "I used to run, but I hurt my knees". However, I also see veteran runners going well into their 60's, injury free. So what is the trick? 

Know your injury threshold. This will be different for everyone, but we all have a limit. Studies have identified thresholds at 11, 25 and 40 miles a week, and exceeding the limit that is right for your body will result in injury.

Don't try to run before you can walk! A lot of people take up running with a specific goal in mind, such as a long distance race. However, going from 0 to 41 miles in a few months does not give your body enough time to build up the correct strength and adapt. Running experts have recognised this and suggest the 10% rule, building up an additional 10% each week. For example, if you run 10km on week, run 11km the next week. For some, this may still be too fast. It's better to start slowly and make running a regular habit before trying to take on big challenges like marathons!

Know your injuries. If you have old injuries these could be aggravated by lots of running, or indeed any new exercise. Do some research and be aware of what you need to do to protect the injuries you have recovered from. And when you do have an injury, or even just a niggle, rest! 

Stretch. Releasing tight muscles after a run will help them to recover. Save the longer, deeper stretches for post-run recovery and stick to dynamic stretches as a warm up. 

Strength train. This will build all-round, balanced muscle, helping to improve your running performance and posture. It also gives your body a rest from running, which is needed as too much of anything is not good.

Listen to your body. Each body is different, we have our own thresholds and limitations. Nothing can tell you what is best for you other than your own body, and when it says 'ouch' it's time to stop. 

If you are interested in grabbing your trainers and heading outside, why not join our next Beginner Jogging & Fitness group, starting in March. Our 6 week course will get you outside and running confidently and safely. Contact us for more information

What is HIIT?

HIIT fitness training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become increasingly popular over the last few years. It has gained a lot of exposure thanks to a number of trainers championing it on social media. It's quick, easy and accessible, making it a great option for people wanting to incorporate fitness into their daily lives. But what is HIIT and how does it benefit you? 


What is HIIT Training?

High Intensity Interval Training is a type of training involving short bursts of intense workout followed by rest periods, repeated for a length of time (usually 20-30 minutes). It was first used in the 1970's by the athletics coach Peter Coe, inspired by the training of Woldemar Gerschler and Per-Olof Astrand. The training involved repeated 200 metre sprints with 30 seconds recovery between each sprint. In 1996, Izumi Tabata used a similar method in his study of Olympic speedskaters, this time involving 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise (approx. 170% VO2max) followed by 10 seconds rest. This was repeated for 4 mintutes. 

The HIIT training common today works on similar methods used in the initial trials, with a mix of cardio, body weight and sometimes resistance exercises. The level of intensity of workout can be controlled by you - you can work at your own pace, with longer recovery periods and gentler workout periods to make it easier if necessary. The idea is that you are able to push your body to a higher intensity during the short work periods than you would during continuous training, causing your system to adapt more due to the increased load. 


Why is HIIT so popular?

HIIT training has become popular over the last few years due to it's simplicity and the quickness of the workouts. It can be done with no or minimal equipment, at home or outside meaning you don't need a gym membership and can easily fit it into your daily routine. Exercises and intensity can be easily scaled so that you are able to work at your own level. 


What are the benefits of HIIT?

High intensity interval training enables people to work at a higher intensity than during longer workouts, but for short bursts. It works the anaerobic system during the high intensity and the aerobic system during moderate intensity. Therefore in the same session you will increase cardiovascular fitness and anaerobic capacity. HIIT has been proven to significantly lower insulin resistance compared to continuous training, helping to decrease fasting blood glucose levels and improve weight loss. According to a 2011 study, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6-8 weeks of endurance training. The intense exertion also fires up your metabolism, helping you to continue to burn fat and calories for up to 24 hours after working out. 


Can anyone do HIIT?

Interval training is safe for most people, however it is always advisable to consult your doctor before taking on any new exercise routine especially if you have existing health conditions. We also suggest training with a qualified professional who can adjust exercises, work and rest times to suit you and your goals. 


If you would like to give your body a kick-start and incorporate some HIIT training into your life, why not join our Spring Into Fitness package and we will guide you through personalised HIIT sessions, with a healthy diet to support your training. 


See our full interview on the benefits of HIIT training for Spa Breaks here