There are three general elements to every successful workout. These are known as the warm-up, training and cool-down. Understanding these three elements will also ensure that you get results safely.
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The Warm Up
The warm up is the foundation of your exercise program. Since the warm up comes first, it will set the tone for the rest of the exercise session. The Stretching Institute reports that, "Warming up prior to any physical activity does a number of beneficial things, but primarily its main purpose is to prepare the body and mind for more strenuous activity." Taking the time to warm up will prepare you mentally, physically and will help prevent injury. The basic components of a warm-up consist of a light aerobic exercise, such as jogging or skipping, followed by stretching, and concluding with a sport-specific activity. These three components will vary in their content based on your athletic proficiency. At the end of a warm-up your body should feel warmer, looser, and you should have worked up a light sweat. After the warm-up begin your workout.
The training portion of your workout is the actual working part of your exercise program. During training you are breaking down muscle tissue to be rebuilt stronger, leaner and larger. The training portion of your workout will vary greatly from person to person, and goal to goal. Generally speaking the training session should be of a higher intensity then your warm-up and cool-down, and incorporate strength and/or cardiovascular training. While this portion of your workout will be the most strenuous, it isn't the last part.
The Cool Down
Now that your training session is finished there is one more component to keep in mind: the cool down. Some athletes and work out enthusiasts will forget about a cool down or dismiss it as unnecessary. The truth is that a good cool down will effectively boost recovery, reduce soreness, and help prevent future injury. The Stretching Institute describes the importance of a cool down this way: "During a strenuous workout your body goes through a number of stressful processes. Muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments get damaged, and waste products build up within your body. The cool down, performed properly, will assist your body in its repair process." Cooling down after a workout is easy, because it closely resembles warming up. Do some light exercise such as jogging, or walking, followed by gentle stretching of muscle groups trained during your work out.