Warm up and cool down
Many amateurs and even some professional athletes sometimes skip the warm up and cool down because:
- Wants to start or finish a workout earlier;
- Consider warm up useless because it does not help burn fat or build muscle mass.
And it’s true — a 10-15-minute warm-up or a cool down by itself will not help you significantly reduce fat or increase muscle mass.
burning and muscle building are not the purpose of a warm-up and a hitch.
Why is a warm up necessary?
The purpose of warming up before training is to “wake up the body” – to warm up the muscles, ligaments and joints, improve the range of motion to reduce the risk of injuries and sprains and make the training as effective as possible.
10 to 15-minute warm-up before training:
- Prepares the musculoskeletal system and muscles for upcoming exercises (warmed up and flexible muscles develop more strength – increases the effectiveness of training);
- Promotes joint mobility (due to increased release of interarticular fluid);
- Muscle ligaments become more flexible (Torn ligaments are a common injury. Recovery time is from 2 to 6 months);
- Improves range of motion;
- Prepares the cardiovascular system for exercise – increases blood pressure and pulse (Saturates the body with oxygen and thus reduces fatigue. Read more about how energy is generated and used in our body HERE.);
- Increases adrenaline and testosterone levels;
- Increases nerve sensitivity and speed of nerve impulses;
- Improves concentration and helps you get in the mood for a workout.
A warm-up is necessary before any workout – both when working with weights, and when performing, for example, aerobic exercises.
Warming up not only prepares our body for training, but it can also reduce muscle tension and pain after a workout because “warm” muscles are more flexible – it’s easier to move, and muscle fibers are less injured during the training.
How to warm up properly?
There is no universal and suitable warm up program for everyone. Exercises should be selected taking into account the individual characteristics of the body, and the type and goals of the workout.
There are three types of warm-ups:
- General warm up – exercises that comprehensively warm up the whole body;
- Special warm up – exercises for warming up specific muscle groups;
- Stretching – helps to achieve greater flexibility and mobility of the body. Stretching exercises before and after training differ in dynamics and exposure time. For warm-ups, dynamic stretching is recommended.
A proper warm-up should “activate” all major muscle groups and consist of three stages. The total duration can be about 15 minutes – 5 minutes for each:
- Cardio warm up. Prepares the lungs and heart for productive work – provides sufficient oxygen in the blood and accelerates blood flow (delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles). Cardio equipment or a jump rope are usually used;
- Warming up the joints. Prepares joints for loads – increases their mobility and stability. Warming up the joints begins with the neck. This can be circular movements of the head, turning the head to the side or tilting the head to stretch the neck muscles. Then warm up the joints of the arms, pelvis and legs;
- Stretching of the muscles. Improves flexibility, increases range of motion and reduces stress on joints and tendons. During the warm-up, dynamic stretching exercises should be used (stretching based on movements differs from traditional “static” stretching in that the movements are repeated several times in a row, and the positions are not fixed).
Start the warm-up slowly and gradually increase the pace and intensity. It is very important to perform all movements as smooth as possible and avoid moving too fast.
When you feel your pulse and breathing quicken, and your body temperature rises – your body is ready for the workout.
Don’t overdo it.
Remember that the purpose of the warm-up is to “tone” your body – prepare it for training. After warming up, you should feel energized, not tired.
Warm up exercises
As I mentioned, the choice of warm-up exercises depends on your level of physical fitness, the type and goals of the workout, for example:
- If you are planning strength training for the arms, then during the warm up, the main attention should be paid to the shoulders, muscles and joints of the arms, as well as the back;
- If you plan to run or ride a bike, then the emphasis should be on the legs – feet, knee joints, hip muscles and hip joint mobility.
To warm up before a morning jog, start with a slow walk, turning into jogging.
If you attend a sports club and your goal is to improve or maintain your fitness, start, for example, with an elliptical simulator. With it, you can prepare your cardiovascular system for exercise and warm up all your joints at the same time.
Other cardio workouts and exercises to warm up the joints:
- Climbing up and down the stairs (or stair trainer or stepper);
- Quick sidestepping;
- Running on the spot;
Dynamic stretching exercises:
- Hip Swirls;
- Exercises with swinging arms and legs;
A warm down is just as important as a warm up. If the warm up prepares the body for an increased load, then an effective warm down prepares the body for recovery processes.
The warm-up begins with a gradual decrease in the load level. For example, at the end of a run, slow down to walking.
Walk at a comfortable pace until your breathing and heart rate return to normal.
Then do a stretch (while the muscles are still warm).
If you go to the gym, do cool down exercises for at least 10 minutes.
During the workout, your muscles have been working hard and are toned up. Muscle growth and regeneration will begin after they return to their previous state – when muscle tone decreases, and breathing and blood circulation return to normal.
It is recommended to start cool down with cardio exercises, gradually reducing the load from high to low.
On the second or third day after an intense workout, we usually feel muscle pain. They are caused by lactic acid accumulated in the muscles during exercise. To relieve this pain, the muscles need to be stretched.
After training, static stretching exercises are recommended, as they better stretch the muscles that are tense/toned during training, and help your mind and body return to a state of rest:
- Pay special attention to stretching the muscles that have received the maximum load during training;
- Breathe deeply, feel your muscles;
- Hold each position for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Exhale while stretching, inhale while holding the position;
- The amplitude of stretching should be the maximum possible, but not painful;
- If you feel that you have not stretched enough – repeat the performed stretching exercises again.
Love your body and take care of it.
Finding time for regular workouts can be difficult. Therefore, it is even more important to maximize their effectiveness. If you decide to keep fit, take the time to prepare your body for exercise by warming up and cooling down for better recovery.
Enjoy your workouts and stay healthy!
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