An exercise session for our general clients is always structured in order to lessen the chances of injury and to ensure that a client can gain maximum results with full utilization of his / her current physical capacity. While there are variations for every client, warms ups and cool downs are always recommended by our personal trainers whenever they are designing an exercise session for new clients. If you don’t warm up or cool down before a workout read the rest of this article and I am sure you will change your pre and post workout habits soon after!
Warm Up and Cool Down
Warm up and cool down time is always integrated within any exercise session in order to prevent injury, improve performance and to help faster recovery. A warm up will help to create a smooth transition from a static resting state to a state of athletic readiness. Warm up have the following benefits:
1. Increase in Body temperature
- helps to decrease the risk of muscle injury by helping increase the muscle extensibility which basically means the degree of stretch that any muscle can endure before injury happens
- helps to increase the speed of muscular contraction
2. Gradually increasing the stress on the cardio respiratory system helps to:
- slowly increase heart rate and breathing rate.
- gradually increase flow of blood to active muscles.
- gradually increase oxygen exchange capacity which is the ability of lungs to absorb oxygen for the body.
- reduce oxygen debt which is the shortfall of oxygen that we experience when we start to work out.
3. Increase in Neural Readiness
This basically means that the speed and force with which you can activate and relax muscles increases which has the effect of making the nervous system work more efficiently.
4. Joint Mobilization
A good warm up will help your body to increase the synovial fluids which is a lubricating fluid that is released in and around the synovial joints which helps in allowing flexibility and fluidity of movement and will also help you to increase your arc of motion.
5. Increased Mental Readiness for Exercise
This is perhaps the most important part. A lot of times you may be feeling lazy and not so prepped up for an exercise session due to inertia or a lot of other factors. A quick run on the treadmill will immediately get you in the right mood for a great work out!
General Warm Ups and Specific Warm Ups
There are two types of warm ups that must be done. A general warm up is a cardio activity that will help you raise your body temperature such as walking, running or cycling. Apart from a general warm up we must also integrate a specific warm-up that apes the movements that will be used in the main workout program of the day. Specific warm ups will prepare the neural system that includes all the nervous gateways from the brain to the muscles and get them ready for the work out to be done. A specific warm up can involve a set of low intensity repetitions done with very low weights or with zero weights.
The Cool Down
As much as the warm up, the cool-down is equally important in order to provide a steady transition from an active and energized state to one of rest and poise. The cool-down must comprise of a general cool-down such as slowly decreasing the intensity of the exercise sessions by lowering the weights followed by a post-stretch to help regain lost range of motion due to the muscles that were contracted during the work out.
The benefits of cool down include:
- More efficient removal of waste products produced by the body during a workout such as lactic acid.
- Enhanced flexibility which also depends on the time spent stretching after workouts each day.
- Reduction in DOMS (delayed onset muscular soreness) that is typically felt 24 – 48 hours after a workout session.
- Prevention of blood pooling which is basically the accumulation of blood in the lower torso following exercise. Blood pooling can result in a drop in blood pressure and cause one to black out.
So if you have been hitting the gym or starting any strenuous workout activity without warming up first and then cooling down later – remember that you could harm your body over the long run!