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Beginning a Stretching Program

How Long Do I Stay on This Thing?

Years ago, runners and cyclists were taught to head out the door and hit the pavement at full stride – or at least to reach peak efficiency as fast as possible. (Hence the "no pain, no gain" theory.) While this might work if you're a Marine in boot camp, it's a great way to tweak cold muscles and ensure that you're on the disabled list faster than you can say illiotibial band syndrome. (IBS is a common running injury that affects the tissue that runs from the hip to the knee, often alleviated by stretching.) In time, virtually all aerobic athletes learned the virtue of a proper warm-up. And you should, too.

Warming-up is the perfect catchall phrase for what you should do right after you enter the gym and change into your workout gear. Pick your favorite piece of aerobic equipment and ease into an easy-to-maintain rhythm for approximately 10 minutes (although 5 minutes is better than nothing).

Here are our favorite machines to warm up on:

  • The Schwinn AirDyne. This bicycle uses your arms as well as your legs.
  • The Concept II rowing machine. This machine works your whole body.
  • The Nordic Track. This machine simulates cross-country skiing. It's gentle on the joints but works your entire body.
  • A treadmill. Put it on an easy setting and tread lightly.
How fast should you go? That depends on how fit you are. In other words, if you're breathing heavily you're going too fast. If your pulse is the same as it is while you're reading this book (unless you're reading it as you ride the exercise bike), you're going too slow. Your aim is to raise your body temperature as well as increase the blood flow to your muscles and joints. Just as you begin to sweat, it's time to move on to the next crucial stage of working out: stretching.



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Excerpted from he Complete Idiot's Guide to Weight Training © 2003 by Deidre Johnson-Cane and Jonathan Cane. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide website or call 1-800-253-6476.


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