Staying fit and healthy is in your best interest whether you play sport as an amateur or professional, have a personal fitness regime, or regularly visit the gym. Training sessions help to build muscle and stamina as well as tone your body. Having said that, however, sometimes, if you’re particularly keen on intense training sessions, it’s easy to push yourself too far, too fast in your eagerness to become fitter. Here are a few things to watch out for and a few useful tips to help you make the most of your sessions without causing unnecessary painful damage or injuries.

Warming up

Always match your warm-up session to your planned activity. For example, a light jog for between five and 15 minutes is good preparation for a sprint. A slow walk on a treadmill will get you in good shape for faster mobility exercises. Failing to warm up adequately is likely to result in injury, and you should also warm down at the end of an intense session by slowing your pace for the last few minutes.

Building muscle

Most professional trainers recommend that you aim to build muscle slowly. Progressing to bigger weights will help you to achieve this; however, make sure you continue to use the correct techniques as you transfer from one level to another. Weight training is not as efficient at burning fat as high-intensity interval training; however, for bulking up it is ideal.

Burning fat

As an exercise goal, fat burning and becoming generally fitter are readily achieved by high-intensity interval training. Ideally, sessions should not last longer than about 30 minutes, and, in fact, short bursts of exercise for about ten minutes each are very effective. This way, you can manage your time, and a series of quick sprints, for example, will deliver more than a prolonged, slower session. The earlier in the day that you work out, the better. Remember that fast, intense bouts of exercise will take their toll on your muscles, so don’t plan to do them every day – about four times per week is sufficient, unless you are already doing other activities.

Support gear

Adequate recovery time is important, as is making sure you have the correct support for your chosen activity. If you like to run, for example, you should shop carefully for the right running shoes. A professional fitter will first look at the shape of your feet and determine whether they are flat, neutral, or have high arches. This helps you decide whether your shoes should be cushioned or be of moderate or high stability.

If weights are a favorite, make sure that you take advice about the correct techniques for lifting and the things that you can do if you’re looking for extra support. For example, a back brace can improve your posture to prevent lower back pain, and the breathable fabrics of support braces and belts provide additional therapeutic heat.

The same is true of protection for other parts of your body. If your workout sessions are likely to put additional pressure on your joints, it makes sense to take steps to protect them, such as wearing braces for ankles, knees, arms, or elbows if you plan to cycle hard or do a lot of walking and running.

Sports equipment

The flexibility of high-intensity training means that you can vary your workout, and while purchasing some dumbbells will undoubtedly give you the edge, there is absolutely no need to spend a fortune on fancy workout equipment. You can easily make good use of no-equipment alternatives such as squat thrusts and hill sprints. In fact, anything that increases your heart rate to about 90 percent capacity will be of benefit, providing you take all the appropriate safety and support advice.

Take a measured approach

Finally, take heed of the fact that you can easily overdo things if you try to do too much in terms of exercise. This is particularly true if you have a stressful lifestyle. Remember that if you’re already lifting weights, then one high-intensity interval training session per week is probably enough. You can also get advice from a trainer about devising a program that suits you personally, maybe mixing strength and mobility workouts with your intense training sessions. Check out the most suitable warm-ups and warm-downs for each session, and remember to give yourself adequate recovery time in between. Exercise can help alleviate stress; however, it isn’t smart to view it as the alternative to taking other necessary steps that will de-stress your life.