The Importance of Warming Up and Cooling Down

Before you engage in any type of exercise or weight training, two of the most commonly discussed practices is warming up and cooling down. How important is it to warm up before you hit the gym? Do you really need to cool down after a session of cardio or an intense set of heavy repetitions? Both of these are common questions and the science behind the right answers is rock solid. The most common mistake made by all types of athletes and others who are serious about their physical condition is failing to warm up and cool down properly. You may be primed and ready to start some serious lifting, but before you can do this, you need to warm up. You should not skimp on this step either or your workout and the results you get may be less than effective. After you have finished your squats, curls, and other routines, you will need to cool down as well.

You may be ready for a meal or in a hurry to get home but cooling down offers many benefits to your health and physical fitness. Both warming up and cooling down are vital parts of any workout that you should always include.

Why Do You Need to Warm Up Before Working Out?

Warming up has a number of purposes and this step can also help you prevent common injuries and problems. If you go straight to the weight rack and start in on your lifting then your muscles and other tissues are not fully prepared. You could end up tearing a muscle, damaging a joint, or injuring yourself in other ways. When you warm up properly you are getting all of your tissues prepared to engage in an intense session of effort and activity. This allows your muscle fibers to warm up so that they are more elastic and flexible. This step also improves the blood that flows to each area of your body. Poor blood flow means that the initial minutes of your workout may not be as effective as they could be. Blood brings vital nutrients and oxygen to muscle cells that can keep them going stronger and longer. If your tissues are still cool then they are not as elastic and they could tear or strain with less effort and less weight. An injury could sideline you from weight training for an extended period and this is something you want to avoid.

Is Cooling Down Really Necessary After a Workout?

Once you have warmed up and then spent an intense session lifting and pushing yourself to the limit, why do you need to cool down? Is this step really needed or is it just gym hype that has been passed around for so long that it is believed to be a fact? You do need to cool down properly after every session in the gym or a period of intense physical activity. If you do not take the necessary 5-10 minutes to do this then you could be very sorry. Improperly cooling down can cause a number of unpleasant side effects and could impact your final results and muscle growth. A cool down period will start the initial phase of your recovery and help you get your heart rate back down to normal. When you cool down properly, you also help to flush out all of the toxins in your system. This promotes good health, improves your mental and physical fitness, and helps prevent disease. If you fail to cool down at all or you do not take enough time with this process then you may experience dizziness or you could feel nauseated after you finish your workout.

Ways to Warm Up Properly

You should spend at least 5-10 minutes warming up before you start any lifting routine or cardiovascular activity. Doing this properly is incredibly important so that your muscles and joints are prepared for what will come and they are more elastic. This helps prevent injury and allows you to get the most from any workout. Start out with low impact activities that are aerobic. The activities that you use to warm up should target the muscles that you will be working on later. You want to start off slow and gradually increase the intensity until you reach your targeted heart rate. This will usually take between five and ten minutes. You can jump rope, run in place, or choose another activity that allows you to increase the intensity as you go. When you are finished, you should be able to feel your heart pump but you should not feel out of breath or actually pant.

How Should You Cool Down?

Once you have finished your weight training, it is essential to cool down the right way in order to get optimal results from your session and flush out toxins effectively. This process should also take between 5-10 minutes and should not be neglected. As soon as you finish your intense lifting routine, start the cool down by jogging slowly. Gradually slow you pace until you are walking in place. Next you should stretch out in order to stretch the muscle fibers and encourage blood flow that will speed up needed muscle tissue repairs. Another consideration during cool down is your post-workout nutrition. The window of opportunity for muscle growth and repair is considered to be around an hour so it is important that your cells and tissues have all of the nutrients needed during this time. High protein foods, simple carbs, and plenty of water are all important after you have finished your workout and performed the physical cooling down exercises.

The Time Required to Warm Up and Cool Down is Well Worth It

You may think that an extra twenty minutes at the gym in order to warm up and cool down is a waste of time but scientific studies have shown that both of these are important. This is especially true when you will be lifting weights or engaging in other strenuous activities. These 10-20 minutes could prevent injuries and help you achieve more gains in less time.




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