Although the new year is already in full swing, many of us are yet to jump back into our exercise schedule to tick off those new 2020 goals. And by the time we do decide to jump in...we go ALL IN! I see it many times, people going from zero exercise to 5 days a week hard hitting and heavy lifting programs, and that’s exactly when the injuries start to creep in.
So why not start with preconditioning? No, it doesn’t make you a ‘sissy’ by starting slowly and easing into exercise...it’s probably the smartest thing you can do (take it from an exercise expert).
So what is preconditioning?
Preconditioning is a phase (usually 2-4 weeks) of more basic full body exercises, mostly using body weight, to build up foundational muscle strength and endurance, before progressing to your desired exercise program. Think of your body as a building, if the foundation isn’t laid correctly and solidly, you can expect that building to start shaking or even come crashing down entirely (i.e sustain an injury). Preconditioning is usually done at an intensity level of 50-60% of the intensity of your desired program.
Why is it important?
Preconditioning has been shown to significantly reduce injuries and lead to more effective and longer-lasting results once you get into your full swing exercise regime.
Before you start piling on the weight plates, take this time to condition the body with correct technique and form by mastering the exercise with your own body weight first. This phase is great for not only technique development (which will lead to less injuries later), but also to take the time to develop good stabilising muscles. These are the smaller muscles that often are overlooked during our mainstream exercises (which focus more on your mover muscle groups), but your stabilisers are essence more important as they lay the foundation to how your body will move. The most important stabilisers to work on is the core (the powerhouse of the body) and hip stabilisers (i.e the gluteus medius), which affects the entire lower body kinetic chain. Shoulder stabilisers also play a vital role in overhead lifting so if this is something you'd like to work towards, I'd suggest adding some shoulder stability into your preconditioning too.
Once you are done with this phase, you should feel stable and strong during body weight movements and ready to add some additional resistance without compromising your technique.
Start at the beginning!
So if you’ve taken a bit of a break from exercising or if you’re a beginner wanting to start getting more active, consider working through a preconditioning program first to prepare your body and mind for what’s to come. Your Biokineticist and exercise specialist will be able to help you with this.