The perfect training session
How to structure your exercise workout
To help you get the best and safest workout we've put together the perfect training session – how to warm-up, train, cool-down and stretch. We also explain the benefits of preparing and recovering from your training sessions correctly.
To get the most out of your training sessions, you should adhere to the following sequence each time you train:
- Warm-up for exercise
- Main exercise training session
- Cool-down after exercise
The perfect training session 1: Warming-up for exercise
Next to rest, your warm-up is arguably the most important component of your training. The warm-up prepares you physically and mentally for your training session and has numerous functions and benefits, including increasing blood flow to your muscles and improving your overall mobility.
The perfect training session 2: Components of an exercise warm-up:
Warming-up doesn’t mean jogging on the spot for ten seconds when you walk into the gym and then moving straight onto a demanding exercise. Your warm-up should comprehensively prepare your body for your exercise session.
As a general rule, your warm-up should last for approximately 10 minutes. The warm-up should be of a sufficiently high intensity to make you start to perspire and elevate your heart rate but not so intense that it is as challenging as your main session or detracts from the quality of your primary exercises.
Every warm-up should include:
The perfect training session 3: Cardiovascular exercise
Some light cardiovascular (CV) exercise, for example:
- Light running
The perfect training session 4: Mobility exercises
Mobility exercises are important so that the limbs and joints are carefully extended and moved through their intended range of movement. This causes synovial fluid (a joint lubricant) to flow liberally within the joint, making movements easier. These exercises are not stretches but are purely designed to loosen up the body in preparation for the main session.
The perfect training session 4: Main training session
This is the bulk of the workout and could consist of a mix of CV, resistance and core training.
The perfect training session 5: Cooling-down after exercise
A cool-down is often neglected but serves many useful purposes, including: lowering body temperature, heart rate and flushing out the waste products of exercise.
Components of a cool-down:
Your cool-down should take approximately 10 minutes and if a complete program of stretches is being carried out, longer. As a general rule, the harder or more intense your training session, the longer the cool-down should be.
The perfect training session 6: Light CV exercise
Your cool-down should involve some light CV exercise on any piece of gym CV equipment. Target the equipment that uses the same muscle groups as your main session.
For example: for an upper body resistance training session, five to 10 minutes of light rowing will gently work many upper body muscles.
Mobility is unnecessary during a cool-down because at the end of your session, your joints will be very loose and mobile.
The perfect training session 7: Stretching exercises
For maximum flexibility gains, stretching should be carried out after the cool-down. At this time in the session your body is at the ideal state for stretching. You are completely relaxed, still warm and hence the slow, controlled movements of flexibility exercises are an ideal way to round off your training. Just a few minutes relaxed stretching at the end of your training session will bring a whole host of benefits, including reduced risk of injury, reduced muscle soreness and improved relaxation.
The perfect training session 8: Putting it all together for great exercise
So, to get the most out of your training sessions, you should adhere to the following sequence each time you train:
- Main training session