Phoenix Ignition Fitness Company

Fitness By the Fire: Safety training steps for high intensity conditioning

by Ron Kennedy • January 19, 2017
High intensity fitness training is not only the corner stone of modern day marketing for personal trainers, cross-fit gyms, and home workout programs like “Insanity” and “P90X”, but to true fitness professionals dismay, it’s also the standard. To the common fitness enthusiasts, the level of challenge is to often associated with the quality of the fitness program, and nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many poorly educated and unqualified so called “fitness trainers” substitute scientific analysis and preparation for their clients’ needs for overly challenging routines and movements to distract from their lack of talent. The result usually produces a duped individual trusting the professional they think they hired, and accepting that they are out of shape and the training they have agreed to can’t be executed without some major growing pains. The truth is that though higher intensity training does have its place, and when properly conditioned for the challenges that consign with those levels of fitness training the satisfaction and results are very much worth the sacrifice, the safety of your fitness program should always be a top priority and element of your success.

First and foremost is the warm up. Warming up 5-10 minutes before fitness training is by far one of the most effective techniques to prepare the body for conditioning and prevent injury. Even a steady walk on a treadmill will increase blood flow, heat up muscle tissue, and begin to release the endorphins triggered by exercise.

Always focus on form, not weight. Pushing your maximum strength levels has only two purposes: 1. You’re a competitive power lifter (which is about 2% of the total fitness population) 2. Your training focus is on massive strength and muscular gains. The type of gains most would consider “over doing it”. Align your body correctly and move smoothly through each exercise. Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains. When learning a strength training routine, many experts suggest starting with no weight, or very light weight. Concentrate on slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents while isolating a muscle group. A much safer and more effective approach for increasing size and strength gains is to keep challenging muscles by slowly increasing weight or resistance. The right weight for you differs depending on the exercise. Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscle or muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can't do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete add weight (roughly 1 to 2 pounds for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs), or add another set of repetitions to your workout (up to three sets). If you add weight, remember that you should be able to do all the repetitions with good form and the targeted muscles should feel tired by the last two.

You don’t have to buy expensive exercise apparel to work out, but you should have the right gear or equipment for the activity you’ve chosen, both for your comfort and safety. Athletic shoes appropriate to the activity, such as walking or running shoes. Keep in mind that workout shoes should be replaced every six months or possibly sooner if you’re pounding away at them. Weather-appropriate clothing. In warm weather, wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely and is light enough to release body heat. In cold weather, dress in layers than can easily peel off, if needed, as your body temperature rises.

I assume you have heard the famous phrase “Variety is the spice of life!” The science we use with our clients is solely focused on dynamic training over static training to yield the optimal results. Overuse injuries can occur when you do the same type of exercise over and over again. For example, swimmers place a lot of repetitive strain on their shoulders, while runners pound away at their knees, ankles, and feet. Another negative of "too much of a good thing": Your body will adapt if you do only one type of exercise, and you will find yourself getting less benefit from it. The best exercise programs involve a mix of aerobic activity and strength training, along with stretching. According to guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, each week you should aim for a total of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise at a moderate intensity or 75 minutes at high intensity, plus a minimum of two strength-training sessions.

It's normal for your muscles to feel sore 12 to 24 hours after a good workout. But if you have pain that occurs during your workout or immediately afterward, talk to your doctor. The same goes for muscle soreness that persists for more than a week or two. And while it's good to be dedicated to your exercise program, don't work out when you’re not feeling well or are extremely tired.

Remember that if you exercise smart and gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts, you’ll stay in the game, stay challenged, and stay safe.