Many people leave out two very important parts of a training session: the warm up and the cool down. I'm not just talking about stretching. There are many types of warm ups and cool downs, which I will discuss.
I always recommend to my clients that they do a 5-10 minute warm up before engaging in their resistance training. I suggest doing steady cardio on their favorite piece of cardio equipment or something as simple as jogging or walking. Warming up has a variety of benefits including:
· Increasing blood flow to the muscles, which allows them to loosen up
· Allowing the body time to produce synovial fluid to protect the joints
· Increasing heart rate, which allows any subsequent training to burn more calories
A warm up should initiate perspiration but not fatigue. It is just an entry phase into your training. Warming up could and should, include the following: stretching to reduce muscle stiffness, cardio to get your blood flowing, and a light set of exercises that work the targeted muscles for that particular day's training. All of this will prepare your body for the demands of your workout.
Now for the cool down phase of your workout. This is just as important as warming up. Cooling down reduces your body's risk of blood pooling (when the blood pools in the muscles worked instead of returning to the heart), soreness (DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness), increases oxygen flow to the brain to reduce the risk of fainting, and gradually brings the heart rate back down. Cooling down needs to take around three to five minutes and can include walking, jogging (if you have been running), stretching, as well as other types of slow, steady cardiovascular activities.
Although they are not the most popular nor promoted section of our gym visit, a warm up and cool down should always be a priority in our training sessions. They provide the benefits to our bodies that may not be seen with the naked eye, but are surely felt in the days to come!