I’m going to start off with the warm-up. After all, it comes first. A lot of people take warming up for granted. They will do a few ‘warm up’ sets and go about their workout. Warming up can be very important, depending on the workout you are about to do, or it can be pointless. It depends on the exercise you are warming up for, and your skill level for that exercise.
When to warm up
- Those engaged in sport related activities can benefit from warming up through an indirect warm up, such as running or stretching.
- Those engaged in explosive exercises such as heavy lifting can benefit from a direct warm up, such as a few warm up sets performing the explosive movement.
For the most part, only trained individuals will benefit from a PROPER warm up
When to not warm up
- Untrained individuals will not be able to tolerate a warm-up. The intensity of a warm-up will actually have a negative effect on untrained individuals and will fatigue them before their workout.
- Warming up before an endurance event, such as running, will have a negative effect on performance due to fatigue.
- Heavy, unrelated warm ups will have a negative effect on your performance.
Warming up increases body temperature, blood flow, and oxygen flow throughout the blood. Warming up can also create a mental readiness for the exercise you are about to perform.
One of the most efficient ways to warm up your muscles for a workout is through dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is the process of moving the muscle in a similar way to which it will be used in a workout to increase blood flow and body temperature. For example, if a person is warming up to be able to play a game of basketball, they may engage in small leaps, slowly progressing in height to warm up.
The worst way to ‘warm up’ before an exercise is through static stretching (Flexibility training). This is a pretty common thing that is seen amongst gym-goers. Some people have a misconception that warming up should consist of actual stretching of the muscle. Stretching a cold muscle can inflict micro trauma on the muscle tissue, connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments.
Cooling down after a workout is very important for everyone who engages in any form of exercise. It is a very important thing for anaerobic exercise because of lactic acid buildup in muscle tissue. Cooling down can help reduce the lactic acid buildup and relieve muscle soreness caused by trauma in the muscle tissue. Cool downs can reduce/diminish both PEMS (Post Exercise Muscle Soreness) and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
During a workout, your muscle tissues are flooded with blood. When you finish a workout, you want your blood flow to continue to remove wastes (such as lactic acid) and provide nutrients to your muscles so that they can grow. This can be done by properly cooling down. Performing mild stretching activities or light aerobic exercise will aid the blood flow in your body and remove waste while providing nutrients to your muscles. No matter what exercise you are performing, you can benefit from a cool down.