Tips to Get your body Prepped

Tips to Get your body Prepped

Written by Michael Dermansky – Senior Physiotherapist – MD Health

After 2 years of heavy travel restrictions, Australians are finally, cautiously beginning to start travel or at least planning to travel once again.  But, because our lives and often our fitness routines have been so disrupted, are our bodies ready to really enjoy the travel?

A common request from our customers is “I want to really enjoy my trip overseas, not just get through it”.  So, the following two things are where you should start your fitness routine in preparing for your travels.

1. Improving Your Strength

Unfortunately, just walking is not enough.  The biggest aspect we have noticed with our clients as they return to their fitness routines is that they have lost a lot of strength during the lockdown periods and they are just not as strong as they were a few years ago, resulting in hip and back pain.

Step number one, work on your strength especially on the muscles around your hips and pelvis, your lower back and your upper body that controls your upper body posture.  These muscles groups are not just important to minimise the load on your back and hips, reducing your risk of injury, but these are your major propulsion muscles, so it means that when you go for a walk, run, lift something heavy or walk up and down hills, the work is just easier if these muscles are stronger.

It takes about 3 months to build a good base of strength and muscle tone, so if you are planning to travel from the middle of the year onwards, this is a great time to start, but utilise as much time as you have available, just start, ideally at least 6 weeks.

As you start your strengthening routine, the first 6 weeks of your program is about improving the efficiency of the muscle contraction and how well your muscles activate.  Although you will feel stronger, under the surface, it is too early for significant muscle growth, however, the improvements in strength will occur as a result of improved nerve connections in the muscle and within the muscle tissue itself (improved blood vessels to the area and improved chemical interactions within the muscles.

The real growth occurs from 6 weeks to 3 months, where your muscles add more units and the physical changes become visually obvious.  It doesn’t mean you stop strengthening exercises at 3 months, you can continue and you will continue to see improvements up to about 12 months, however, at a slower rate of improvement.

Talk to your fitness trainer, physiotherapist/exercise physiologist or strength and conditioning coach about structuring a well-balanced strengthening program to help achieve your goals.  Tell them what kinds of activities you are planning to do on your trip, such as hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, or just walking through the cobblestoned streets of Europe, so they can design a program appropriate for your needs.

Finally, do not overdo it with your strengthening program.  More is not always better, but consistency and structure is best.  Exercising every day, or for hours on end will NOT give you results faster, but will slow you down as it will not give you enough time to recover between exercise sessions, so the muscles don’t have the ability to grow and adapt from your workout and make you more prone to injury, slowing your progress.

  • 2-3 strength sessions a week, for about 30 minutes is the perfect balance for the best results.

2. Improving Your Endurance

Cardio and endurance training is important for fitness, but my strong recommendation is to begin this when you have built a base of strength, usually after 6 weeks of your strengthening program.  The reason why is because, the limiting factor in improving fitness is rarely truly fitness, but muscle strength to perform the task properly.

For example, if you want to improve your running fitness, start by improving the strength of the muscles that help with running, such as the gluteal muscles around your hips, the quadriceps muscles around your knees and the calf muscles around the ankles.  If you increase your volume of running before strengthening these muscles, they are not strong enough to cope with the load of the increased workload or training, which either leads to damage to the muscle or tendon or increased load on the joints, such as the knee caps, causing pain and slowing your progress.

The ideal scenario is beginning fitness training for about:

  • 2 -3 times a week, for about 20-30 minutes

About 6 weeks after starting your strengthening program

Again, speak to your fitness trainer, physiotherapist/exercise physiologist or strength and conditioning coach to structure the best fitness training program for you and enjoy and get the most from your long-awaited holiday and travels once again.

Tips to Get your body Prepped Tips to Get your body Prepped Tips to Get your body Prepped

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