Our Body During Exercise: Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Our body is not the same when we don’t exercise and when we’re in the middle of doing our routine. That is, our body is not in the same state.
Exercising raises our body temperature, engages our muscles, and starts chemical processes that will ensure muscle growth.
Our warm-up and cool-down serve as a bridge to connect these two states.
Let’s look at what both of these phases of a workout do for your body. This will help you understand why it’s always important to include both.
So, what is a warm-up?
This is the intro to your workout. Your main goal here is to raise your basal body temperature (the temperature of your body in its normal state). This helps muscles prepare for training conditions.
Not only that, performing a warm-up significantly reduces the risk of injury and positively affects your performance.
Common types of warm-up include:
- walking or jogging on the treadmill
- skipping rope
- jumping jacks
- a full-body HIIT routine
- a combination of active and static stretching
Think movement, energy, dynamics. Your goal is to literally get warmer, hence: warm-up.
At the end of your warm-up, focus on performing the main movements you will be focusing on in the main part of your workout. Do these without added weight and at a slow, controlled pace. This is great for preventing injuries and conditioning your muscles to better perform under heavier loads.
And now for something completely different!
Your goal during cool-down is to achieve the complete opposite than during warm-up: you’ll want to lower your heart rate and body temperature.
Not skipping your cool-down will help your muscles to recover significantly faster and with less soreness in the process.
Your muscles will still be warm after the main portion of your workout. Use this to your advantage: now is the right time to perform more intense static stretches (you can even include weights as a form of assistance).
If you program your entire workout wisely, it will allow you to:
- Minimize the chance of injury
- Shorten your recovery period
- Increase flexibility and mobility over time
Going easy (or easier) is equally as important as going hard. Don’t ignore the health and performance benefits of performing your warm-up and cool-down!