Warming up before exercise will prepare the body for physical work and decrease the risk of injury by increasing muscle temperature and blood flow and stretching muscles and tendons. The warm up should be relatively slow and rhythmical.
Whole body warm ups, like slow running or jogging, will raise body temperature and increase your heart rate. Also make sure you carefully stretch all the major muscles, paying particular attention to the muscles which will be used during the activity.
Avoid a time lag between warming up and performing the activity and make sure your warm up lasts for around 10 minutes.
Cooling down after exercise will help you to recover and prevent muscle soreness by removing waste products from the system. Your cool down should consist of light exercise which gradually decreases in intensity, combined with some gentle stretches particularly of the muscles that have just been worked.
The cool down should last for at least 10 minutes; it is advisable to put extra clothing on as you cool down.
Improving your endurance fitness
Playing sports regularly such as football, hockey, squash and rugby can be an enjoyable way of improving and maintaining your level of endurance fitness. Any sport that causes you to get out of breath and last 30 minutes or more will be beneficial.
The most rapid improvements in endurance fitness will be made if you participate in activities that use large muscle groups, including running, cycling, swimming and rowing.
Continuous training involves exercising either continuously for a set time and recording the distances covered, or exercising for a set distance and recording the time taken. For example, try to run a set distance, at least three miles, starting and finishing at home, and try to reduce the time taken to cover it.
Interval training involves running for a set time or distance, a specified number of times with periods of hard or maximum efforts, intermixed with recovery periods. It is important that you include interval training into your endurance training because it simulates what happens to your body in the endurance test. For example:
- Run for five minutes at 65-70% maximum heart rate
- Run for five minutes at 75% maximum heart rate
- Sprint as fast as you can for two minutes
- Recover for two minutes by jogging. Do not allow your heart rate to drop below 65% maximum heart rate
- Repeat five repetitions of sprinting and five lots of recovery.
- Run for 10 minutes at 75% maximum heart rate
- Jog for two minutes at < 65% maximum heart rate
- Stretch to cool down (ten minutes)
To develop and maintain endurance, try to do one or a combination of these activities three times a week with each continuous session lasting 20 to 40 minutes.
If you have not exercised regularly in the past, start with gentle exercise sessions lasting 15 minutes and then build up to 20 minutes or more over a couple of months.
Improving your strength
The best way to improve your upper body strength is to perform exercises like press ups, kneeling press ups, or pull ups. Perform 3 to 5 sets of as many repetitions as you can of each exercise with a 2 minute recovery period separating each set.
Improved strength in the arms, shoulders, chest and back muscles is required to pass the dynamic strength test. Improved strength would also be of benefit in the grip test. Weight training exercises such as shoulder presses, bench presses, lat pull downs, seated rows and squats will all be beneficial.
Ensure that you have 24 hours recovery following any form of strength training. If you have not engaged in strength training before, or you have not trained for a while, then extend this recovery period to two days.