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Summer’s On Its Way: Exercise Questions Answered
Petty Officer 3rd Class Abimelec Apolinaris, a machinery technician at Coast Guard Station Philadelphia, does high intensity interval training with his crew at the station, Aug. 2, 2012. The station's entire crew does the training together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham, U.S. Coast Guard/Flickr)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Abimelec Apolinaris does high-intensity interval training with his crew, Aug. 2, 2012. They train together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham, U.S. Coast Guard/Flickr)

During our hour on high-intensity workouts, we spoke with fitness experts about everything from warming up to modifying exercises for those with injuries. So, before you head to the gym, take a moment to review these important tips.

Chris Jordan, co-developer of the 7-minute workout, cautions that high-intensity workouts aren’t for beginners:

High-intensity training is not for beginners, and I think most peopel would agree with me there. These are hard, vigorous workouts really for the intermediate or advanced exerciser. There’s a chance, there’s a risk that someone, a beginner, might try these workouts without appropriate guidance and get themselves possibly injured. One thing we recommended in our original article is that these workouts aren’t for everyone, and anyone’s that interested should get pre-screened medical clearance and go see a certified personal trainer or fitness instructor to get guidance on the first time they go round at the very least.

Exercise physiologist Jessica Matthews emphasized that both high-intensity and moderate exercise share the same benefits:

They both provide great benefits — that’s the take home message that I will always mention to individuals. If somebody has an established routine of physical activity and it involves 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes of moderate, steady-state exercise, continue doing that. There’s great benefits to that. And, at the end of the day, whatever we choose to do in terms of being physically active, in order to reap all these great benefits — whether it’s high-intensity training, whether it’s moderate, continuous steady-state — we have to regularly stick with it.

If you have injuries and struggle through some exercises, Jordan recommended finding someone qualified to assist you:

The best thing you can do is get some help from a certified professional. If you go to a local fitness center, YMCA or something like that, and ask a certified fitness professional to help them guide them through alternative, modified exercises that they can do in a safe, effective manner. There are many exercises you can do that will allow someone to work around — not through — an injured part of the body or a part of the body that shouldn’t be stressed. So it’s really about getting professional guidance.

Matthews explained the the importance of a dynamic warm up and a static cool down:

What is best suited for a warm up is a dynamic approach to warming up. That’s kind of preparing the body, it’s increasing core body temperature, taking the joints through the full range of motion. It’s basically giving your body — an easy way to think of it is a preview of what’s to come during the actual workout.

The dynamic warm up is going to be key when we’re talking about high-intensity training. So that could include doing something basic primary movement patterns, such as half squats, doing this like cat and cow pose — or cat/camel as it’s often called — just beginning to warm the spine. There’s a number of different exercises — bird/dog’s a great one when you’re on hands and knees and extend opposite arm and leg, really promoting core stabilization, that spinal stability that’s so important.

We’re now seeing that there’s benefits too at the beginning of a workout, before we do that dynamic warm up, we’re now seeing benefits to doing like myofascial release — if you ever see people using foam rollers, tennis balls, different devices. Those now research is showing is an important part of a warm up.

The static stretching is fantastic. It’s really best reserved for after the workout is done, while your body’s nice and warm, your muscles are more pliable. So we reserve now to the end of the workout.

After the show, Matthews tweeted a guide to tissue density/myofascial release exercises (PDF).

For more advice, here’s our full hour on high-intensity workouts:

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