The importance of warming up and cooling down
One of the things I get told by my clients is "I don’t need to warm up because I already feel warm”. Unfortunately that is not how it works.
Before the start of your main workout, you need to replicate the exercises that you will be doing at a less intense pace, this keeps your joints loose and easily movable. By also performing mobility exercises you will avoid injuries, and increase the range of movement at the joints, to avoid the risk of tearing muscles and ligaments.
Warm-ups and cool-downs take just a few minutes, and they make all the difference for a great workout. Here's how to do it both right.
How to Warm Up
A short warm-up increases your blood flow and preps your body for exercise. Your muscles respond better to exercise if they are loose and warm. Warm-ups should take 5 to 10 minutes. You'll know when you are ready as you will feel a lot looser and more agile. It also sets your mind ready for the main part of your workout.
Warm up with a slow paced aerobic activity. Go for a walk, use a treadmill, rowing machine or an elliptical trainer on a low setting. If you don't have the use of cardio equipment you can always do a low impact bodyweight cardio routine.
Start slow and gently increase the intensity.
Before Strength Training
Choose an easy cardio activity that warms up the muscles you intend to be working on.
I.e. bicycle for leg day, use light resistance bands for the upper body. Or for an all over body workout try warming up on the cross trainer, or do bodyweight exercises using your own body to load the muscles before lifting heavier weights.
How to Cool Down
Don't come to an abrupt stop after vigorous exercise. That can make you feel light-headed and dizzy. Cooling down keeps your heart rate and blood pressure from dropping rapidly.
Try ending every session with some stretching, as this boosts flexibility and may lower your risk of injury. Do it slowly and gently. Breathe into each stretch and don't bounce. Gentle static stretches are perfect for after a work out.
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