Archive for October, 2009

Components of a Workout

Fitness, Health, Water Fitness | Posted by Ang
Oct 06 2009

The following information has been taken from the American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Manual. This manual is used for the Water Safety Instructor Certification Course offered by the American Red Cross. For more information on the WSI certification and other courses please visit the American Red Cross site.

No matter what type of exercise program you are looking at starting, please visit your physician to help decide what type, intensity, and duration of a program would be right for you.

In the last entry I discussed the Concepts or Phases of a Fitness Program.  This entry is taking it a step further and discussing the components involved in a workout.  There are 5 components to a workout that will help safely and effectively take you through your workout.  These components are:

  1. Warm-Up
  2. Stretching
  3. Aerobic Set
  4. Muscular Development Set
  5. Cool-Down


The Warm-Up is used to prepare the individual’s body for exercise by increasing blood flow and helping to adjust the body to the workout environment.  It should last anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.  When performing a water workout it may include walking, jogging, and/or low intensity swimming.

Stretching helps to make the individual’s joints more flexible and improve the individual’s range of motion (ROM).  The individual may perform two types of stretching, static or dynamic.  Static stretching occurs when the movements are passively stretched by holding them from 10-30 seconds.  Dynamic stretching occurs as the individual exaggerates movements that replicate specific sports or exercise movements.  According to current research statics, stretching should be used after an exercise, while dynamic stretching my be used during warm-ups or right after them.

The Aerobic Set is important to develop cardiovascular fitness.  To benefit from the aerobic set, the individual needs to maintain their heart rate in  the individual’s target range for at least 30 minutes.  The Aerobic Set should  make up 50-70% of the workout time and distance.  When performing a workout in the water (or outdoors) an individual must remember that target heart rate range will vary due to differences in water temperature and/or air temperature.  The aquatics facility will have a harder time maintaining exactly the same climate than a land based workout facility.  Another way to track an individual’s exertion is by using the Rate of Perceived Exertion or the Talk-Test Method.  I will discuss these methods at another time.

The Muscular Development Set is recommended by the ACSM.  During this set, the muscles are progressively overloaded by using resistance training (weight lifting).  When in the water, an individual may incorporate barbells, balls, noodles, fins, paddles/gloves, kick-boards, and/or bungy cords just to name a few.  An Individual must make sure to warm up thoroughly and learn the proper way to execute each exercise, identify the proper weight to use for resistance, and the correct number of repetitions for their current fitness level.

The last component of a good workout is a Cool-Down.  (I prefer to the term warm-down.)  This component is to help bring the body back to pre-exercise condition levels.  It is important to slowly lower the heart rate and cool the body, and stretch the muscles to help prevent cramping and soreness after the workout.  This component should last between 5 and 10 minutes.

So when an individual plans their workout for the day they should include at least a warm-up, stretching, an aerobic set, and a cool-down.  Muscular sets may be added as well, but are not necessary for each workout.