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Most people view warm-up and cool down as unnecessary efforts, and so they will do them half-heartedly. Unfortunately, both of these are necessary evils of you are to have a productive and injury-free workout session.

So, why do lifters dread the mandatory run on the treadmill that warms the heart up? Well, for close to the same reason most people dread the CRA reassessment period. Cardio is not a lifter’s priority as they may not really need to lose weight, and so they just hate the idea of running and exhausting their energy while they could be preserving it for more ‘important’ aspects of a workout session.

Why Warm Up?

Warming up dilates that blood vessels and oxygenates the muscles well enough to get the ready for the workout ahead. The heat generated when one warms up makes the muscles fluid and flexible, reducing chances of injury. Additionally, the slow rising if temperature and tempo prepares the heart for what is ahead, making it easy to adjust to a faster beat so that it is not stressed or overwhelmed.

A warm-up doesn’t have to take so much time or be too demanding. You could just do the activity you plan to do during the session in a slower pace such as jogging on the spot, walking lunges, walking or running on the treadmill, or doing some yoga poses for 5-10 minutes. The ideal warm-up session will work on the entire body and prepare you mentally for what’s ahead. The duration of your workout session will dictate the time spent warming up.

Cooling Down

After subjecting your body to high intensity workouts, it’s advisable to bring the heart rate back to normal. A cool-down means bringing your activity level down gradually so that your body can slowly adjust to the ending of an intensive activity.

Why Cool Down?

  • It helps the heart rate and breathing return to normal.
  • When an intensive activity is stopped abruptly, it can result to dizziness as a result of large pools of blood in the area of excessive activity (mostly the legs).
  • Cooling down helps us prepare our muscles for the next activity, whether it’s in a few hours or the next day.
  • It helps get rid of metabolites that build up during vigorous activities. Cooling down gradually is more effective in riding the body of lactic acid than stopping all at once.

Stretching after a Work out

Another activity that is often neglected by most people is the all-important stretch. Right after w workout, your muscles are still warm and flexible, and so they can do a lot of bending. Stretching may not have any benefit for muscle growth or strength retention, but it sure does help release the lactic acid that has built up after a session which if left intact, could lead to fatigue and soreness. It also psychologically helps the body return to relaxation mode. Breathing through the pain as one stretches helps calm and relax the mind.

The good news is that both stretching and cooling down only need a few minutes of your time. Five stretches targeting the areas you have worked out will do the trick while a two-minute cool-down is all your muscles need.