To balance his energy:
SAMBA goes for walks twice a day.
To keep him in shape & socialized:
He runs and plays in the park
three times a week
Samba (Schnauzer) and
Batucada his friend
Training is good. Training hard is better. But training consistently is the key to drastic, lasting change to your health, performance and body composition.
The good news is that you can fortify your muscles and joints against these types of injuries by simply taking a few pre-habilitative steps before and after workouts. Some of these tactics can even drastically (and immediately) improve performance and enhance recovery. Put another way, you'll be able to train harder more often with less chance of injury.
1. Stop stretching before workouts
Before squats, for example, you may follow a progression like this, doing each activity for 15 to 20 seconds: jogging in place, jumping jacks, high-knee running in place, partial body-weight squats, full body-weight squats and squat jumps.
If you've done it right, your heart rate should be elevated and you should have a light sweat going. Researchers have found that this type of warm-up improves strength and flexibility -- virtues that help reduce injury risk.
2. Do a specific warm-up
When you're done with your dynamic warm-up, it's time to get specific. Using the squat example again, this means getting under the bar and performing a few light sets, generally in a higher-rep range. This helps to increase blood flow to the muscles and joints that you'll be working, but, more importantly, it helps to ingrain proper movement patterns ahead of your heavier work.
This brain training ahead of your working sets helps you work out more efficiently, limiting the small deviations in form that can send you to the trainer's table. Take advantage of these sets by focusing on every part of the movement, and do as many sets as you think are necessary before piling on the plates.
3. Stretch it out
Breathe slowly and deeply on each stretch, getting a little "deeper" into each stretch upon exhaling. Static stretching post-workout also can help speed recovery and has been shown to reduce (not eliminate) next-day muscle soreness
4. Roll it out
Almost universally, professional athletes say that getting frequent massages is key to their success. Much to the dismay of our checkbook, they're not wrong.
Massage is a restorative process that promotes blood flow (and thus recovery) while also keeping muscles, connective tissues and fascia supple and healthy.
One cheap alternative? A high-density foam roller can help rub out pesky knots and release tension in aching muscle bellies -- a process known as myofascial release -- all without the costly enlistment of Helga's man-hands. Though painful at first, the use of foam rollers can help rejuvenate muscles and tendons between workouts.
Have you ever started a new workout routine only to be sidelined in the first week with a screaming shoulder, sore knee or achy back? "Yes," said every person reading this. In our enthusiasm, we sometimes trick ourselves into believing that we should be consistent at all costs -- even when our body is telling us otherwise. A better approach would be to temper your initial efforts and instead insist on a gradual progression from week to week. You don't have to lift all the weight on the first day.
Once you have that urge in check, it's important to let muscles recover between workouts -- 48 to 72 hours is a good general guideline. Eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney said it best: "Stimulate, don't annihilate." And sleep. If you're not getting seven to nine hours a night, you can compromise the ability of the central nervous system to properly recruit muscles during intense training, which makes injury a near certainty.
PHOTOS: Alex at Grumari Beach Garden, Rio de Janeiro, 1995
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