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Two exercise timing questions. 
20th-May-2010 12:00 pm
slanty, martha
Someone on my friends list must know these things...

When I exercise strenuously, I'm much less sore the next day if I stretch out both before and after the exercise. Is it best to stretch immediately before and immediately after, or to wait a few minutes in between?

I'm pretty sure it's better from an aerobic point of view to stretch immediately before and after, since that will extend the period when your cardiovascular system is getting a workout, but that's not what I care about; I care about reducing next-day soreness.

When I do a weight-training exercise (specifically push-ups, if it makes a difference), and do multiple sets, what's the right length of time to wait between sets? I've been doing as many as I can, then waiting long enough that I can do about 80% as many in the second and third sets.
20th-May-2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
Static stretching before exercise is a can of worms. People disagree loudly about it.
To prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), the standard advice is to do a warm-up before exercise, and cool down with mild exercise (walking if you've been running, for example) plus stretching immediately afterward. If you're sore the next day (for some people it's more like 48 hours), light exercise should help more than just resting. It's held to be not (or not just) the intensity that causes DOMS, but having worked a muscle that's not used to it. This is a *good* thing (people marketing their training programs sometimes call it "muscle confusion") because once your body adapts to a specific exercise, not as much progress is made. This is true for bones as well as muscles. Using exactly the same isolation machine over time, changing nothing except for adding weight, will not do you as much good as using a free weight (that requires adding balance etc to the work) or using a different machine that works a near neighbor muscle part instead - if you're using machines, try switching back and forth. After you reach whatever your pushup goal is, you should change those, too - vary how close your arms are to your torso, or how far down your chest you put your hands, or add some explosiveness to it.

The 100 pushups a day people suggest a minute of rest between sets during their multi-week program of working up to 100 consecutive pushups

The rest of this is based on an external resistance program (ie
free weights or machines, not your own body weight). It's not what you asked, but I spent all that time learning it, so what the heck. Amount of weight & reps & sets & rest invervals depend upon your goals (do you want to build up visible muscle mass, or be stronger, or be able to do a specific movement for longer?). For people who want to have a little of each (or for many women, who don't want any new muscle mass to show, a mysterious desire as far as I'm concerned), doing the particular exercise as part of a circuit is best. It rests the particular muscle group(s) somewhat while you are still moving and keeping your heart rate up.
I don't know how to insert a table here. For strength, you should do a few reps (6 is a good number), 2 or more sets, with 2-5 minutes rest between
for power (explosive stuff) use so much weight that you can only do a couple of repts, do 3 or more sets, and rest 2-5 minutes between sets (or longer if it's an incredible amount of weight)
for muscle hypertrophy, lower weight, more like 8 reps, 3 or more sets, rest interval of 30 secs to 1.5 minutes
for endurance, less weight, more, reps, 2 or 3 sets, less than 30 secs rest.

20th-May-2010 06:12 pm (UTC) - stretching
it is generally best to warm up with "dynamic stretching" and cool down with "static stretching". If your muscles aren't already loose & warm, then static stretching may be too much strain.

for weights, you usually want to wait at least a minute between (2-3) sets of 8-15 reps. If you can do more reps, then start with a higher weight next time. (Generally, unless you have a trainer-assisted program, you don't want the weight to increase during the same work-out.)

Also... if you want to be efficient, or get fidgety waiting a minute, even if that muscle group is tired, you can circuit your weights. (i.e., 15 reps for arms, 15 reps for legs, 15 reps for chest/back/abs), then include a whole minute between that and the next circuit.

for push-up specific advice, go here: http://www.hundredpushups.com/week1.html (o:
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