I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend! I can’t believe that Christmas is just a few short weeks away. Our house is being transformed into a holiday dreamland! Well, it’s got a ways to go but we’re getting there. I’ll share more about our holiday decor, but first the tree…
After a few too many days of a few too many indulgences, I think many of us can agree that a week of great workouts is in order!
And while the actual workout you do is of course important, what often gets overlooked is equally so…
Your warm-up and cool-down!
Do you take the time to do an actual warm-up before a workout and take a few minutes afterwards to cool down before moving on to your next task on the to do list? I know that you know that it’s important, but it’s one of those things that is just far too easy to skip out on. Right?
To be honest, I haven’t always warmed up myself. I used to be one of those people that walked into the gym and just jumped right into whatever workout I had planned.
But I have never ever done that for my clients.
My clients always start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down. Even if it means cutting a workout short to make time for stretching, then that’s what happens.
Let’s Talk Benefits Of Warm-Ups & Cool-Downs
Before I get into explaining how to create a warm-up (that’s right, not just a warm-up but how you can create one that fits your current workout), we have to cover the bases.
–> Both increase blood flow to the muscles to help remove stiffness and prepare them for exercise. The increase blood flow also helps to send oxygen and nutrients into the muscles which has been proven to help reduce recovery time.
–> A proper warm-up helps to increase the speed of muscle contractions, helping you to safely workout better and improve overall performance.
–> Helps to get the mind set. A warm-up is more than just a few moves to ready your muscles, it also serves to get your mind focused on the workout/event at hand. Increased endorphins, temperature and blood flow turns you into a fitness machine!
–> Facilitates oxygen utilization to the muscles, help them to work more efficiently for you when it counts.
–> Reduces risk of injury. Seriously, it’s important to warm up the body, get the muscles stretched and ready, the joints prepped for what’s to come.
–> Reduces muscle soreness. A cool-down that includes static stretching helps to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness… you know that feeling of “oh crap, my legs hurt” the day or two after a workout.
How To Create A Proper Warm-Up & Cool-Down
Here’s a video I did to help share not only how to warm-up and cool-down but I show you a few of my favorite moves as well.
Rules Of Warm-Up
Here are the 5 golden rules to stick by when warming up.
Rule #1 – Don’t skip warm-ups! We all know they’re a good idea, yet so few actually follow through with a warm-up.
Rule #2 – Includes exercises that offer large range of motion (Jumping jacks, lunges, etc)
Rule #3 – Incorporate both cardio moves and exercises that mimic those that you will be doing during the workout.
Rule #4 – Don’t make your warm-up so hard that you can’t deliver on your actual workout. But, also don’t make it too easy where you feel as if you did nothing.
Rule #5 – If you aren’t used to static stretching before a workout, don’t start. Studies show that this can increase injuries. However, if you’re used to static stretching then there is no harm in continuing on. In one study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning, researchers found that people who stretch statically prior to weight training feel weaker and less balanced than those who didn’t.
Rules Of Cool-Down
Rule #1: Gradually bring your heart rate down. After a workout, walk or jog for 1-2 minutes to slowly bring your heart rate down before stretching.
Rule #2: Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds to get the full benefit of the stretch.
Rule #3: Don’t over stretch… don’t “force” the stretch, go down to what feels comfortable to you. It’s suppose to leave you feeling great, not feeling as if you’ve just done a split.
Rule #4: Grab a foam roller! I’ll be doing a whole separate post on this soon, but if you have a foam roller, use it! If you don’t have one, get one!
Rule #5: Hydration is part of cool-down. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids after a workout to help recovery and to help replace fluids lost during exercise.
Do you warm-up and/or cool-down after workouts?
What’s your favorite stretch?