You have 45 minutes to smash a workout in your lunch break, and you think “I don’t need to warm up or cool down, they are just a waste of bulking time, right?”
This is a common thought that many individuals will have because of this, it is crucial that you know why a warm up and cool down is vital for a workout. This will allow you to see the value, and why should always make time for them in EVERY session.
The 4 benefits of warming up before a workout:
- Your body needs blood flow and oxygenation to feed your muscles, the energy and substrates required to perform at a high level. As your blood warms up the binding of oxygen to blood cells weakens so that your muscles can uptake the oxygen better. Your blood vessels also take a little while to dilate as your body temperature rises fully. If your heart is trying to pump more blood through restricted blood vessels, your blood pressure can spike rapidly, and this is not good. You can reduce this risk by including five minutes of light cardio exercise like a gentle jog, rowing machine or cross-trainer this will kickstart your warming up process.
- Dynamic stretching in your warm-up can promote maximum movement potential in your joints so that you can exercise into a broader range of motion. These stretches reduce the risk of injury and allow you to increase functional strength. These movements can be as simple as leg swings, arm circles and hip openers all will help you feel unrestricted and ready to move correctly.
- As your muscle warms up, it contracts more forcefully and relaxes faster, so the risk of overstretching a muscle reduces. Injuries are also reduced, and you will likely be able to push more weight. If you are planning on doing heavy sets, be sure to add warm-up reps to your exercises, at about 50% load. This will activate and warm-up the specific muscles you are going to use during your heavy sets.
- Mental preparation is also an essential aspect of your warm-up. Put the days’ thoughts and worries out of your mind and focus on your body. This will improve neuromuscular connect and clear your mind as an active form of meditation.
The 3 benefits of cooling down after your workout:
- During a cool down, your heart rate comes back to normal, and your breathing slows down. This normalisation is good for your body, as it starts to divert your blood flow back to other functions in your body, for example, brain function and digestion. It also, normalise your blood pressure slowly this is to avoid feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
- Increased flexibility. The best time to work on lengthening your muscles is when they are thoroughly warm. Improved flexibility can also reduce the tension tight muscles place on joints like shoulders, neck and spine. The best way to stretch during cooldown is to notice where your range of motion is limited and hold a position into the greater range of motion that feels like it needs stretching. If you need help identifying your limitations, consult a personal trainer or physiotherapist, and they can give you a specific stretched tailored to your body.
- Cooldowns are the perfect time for stress release and mind relaxation. Take some deep breaths while you are stretching and don’t forget to acknowledge what you just accomplished in your workout.