Should you be warming up and cooling down before and after your workouts, and what are the benefits?
Aerobic warm up
The aim of an aerobic warm up is to simply and slowly increase your heart rate, breathing rate and blood circulation to prepare the body for intense aerobic exercising.
Benefits of aerobic warm ups
Slowly warming up your heart and lunge activity will help your body to ready itself for exercise. It will also improve your performance, therefore helping to get better results. Plus it could help to prevent dizziness and injuries.
Before performing any stretching exercises you should warm up your muscles first, stretching your muscles while they’re cold could lead to muscle pulls or other more serious injuries.
Benefits of stretching
Stretching makes your muscles more elastic and it reduces the risk of injury, muscle pulls and tears.
Example warm up exercises
- Light weight lifting – high reps
- Short jog
- Arm circles
- Hip rotations
- Star jumps
For the warm up to be beneficial you just need to get your muscles warmed up and the blood circulating around your body.
Muscle warm ups
This is just to get the blood circulating in the muscles, a good way to do this is to perform light weight resistance exercises, a light resistance warm up is ideal before beginning a weight training session.
Benefits of warming up
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Improved performance during your workout.
- More flexible
Duration depends on a few factors, like your body temperature, which is also effected by the climate. If you are very cold for example, you may have been outside in winter conditions then you’ll need to spend more time warming up.
You will also need to spend more time warming up if you’re training first thing in the morning, your muscles and tendons will be cold and less elastic.
My warm ups
Before my workout routines I tend to do a few quick resistance exercises using light weights, plus exercises such as, arm circles, hip rotations. When it’s very cold I will spend a few minutes on the treadmill, running is a very effective way to warm up your whole body. I also tend to do some stretching before and during my workouts, just quick stretching to my chest, triceps, hamstrings and calves.
Cooling the body down after a workout with exercises allows the body to return to its normal state in a controlled fashion, this includes slowly lowering your heart and breathing rates.
During a strenuous workout your body produces waste from your muscles, tendons and ligaments. Performing cooling down exercises will help to release the build up of waste and toxins. You will also benefit from improved and faster recovery times.
Cooling down can help prevent delayed muscle soreness, which is common after a strenuous workout or performing certain exercises. Stretching releases the latic acid build up in your muscles, potentially helping to reduce the muscle soreness.
Cooling down exercises
Light weights – Performing light resistance training after a weight training routine slowly returns the blood flow back to normal, a sudden stop in exercise can cause your blood pressure to drop which can cause dizziness and it could even result in a loss of consciousness.
Stretching – If you are prone to soreness of a particular muscle, stretching will help to ease that soreness. Stretching your muscles after a workout will release waste toxins and lactic acid from the body. Stretching will also help to keep the blood circulating around your muscles which will aid with muscle growth and it will help your body to recover quicker.
Light aerobic – After an intense aerobic workout performing light aerobic exercises can be effective for returning your heart rate and breathing back to normal which can also help to prevent dizziness and muscle stiffness.
Other cooling down tips
Drink a protein shake, because the protein is consumed in liquid form it will be absorbed by the body quicker, the protein will help your body to repair and recover more quickly from any form of strenuous exercise.
Keep your body hydrated after your workout as this will also aid with your bodies repair and recovery.
You normally only need to spend a few minutes warming up and cooling, however it’s very important in preventing injuries and improving your workout performance.