You may know a good warm-up and cool-down are essential to getting a good workout. You may also know that warming up your muscles and stretching them out after exercise can help prevent injury and keep you at the top of your game. They’re the two bookends that help maximize a workout. Unfortunately, a lot of exercise enthusiasts don’t know how to warm up and cool down correctly.
A warm-up is exactly what it sounds like: According to fitness trainer course experts the goal is to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for whatever you’re asking it to do. Warming-up increases your body temperature and helps blood flow to the muscles that you’re using.
So if you’re going to play soccer, your warm-up should touch all of the muscles in your legs and core. Do shooting hoops, for that you’ll need to add shoulders and arms to your routine. Circuit training! Learn it at the gym or during fitness trainer course? Choose a warm-up that flexes all of the muscles you’re about to use.
The thing that all warm-ups have in common is that they require dynamic (or constantly moving) motion, not static stretching (holding poses for a certain amount of time). In fact, static stretching prior to a workout can inhibit power and strength, especially if you’re doing something like weightlifting.
The anatomy of a solid warm-up:
- Before any workout, do about 10 minutes of light cardiovascular activity, whether walking, biking or jogging.
- Dynamic stretches! After you get your muscles moving, do a series of lunges, jumping jacks or toe touches to stretch a bit.
- Dive in! When you start your workout, begin slowly and gradually increase power and speed.
After doing exercise during training in fitness trainer course, a good cool-down is essential. It helps slow down your heart rate gradually, relax your muscles and stretch out.
Cool-down routines should always include some type of motion before you get to static stretching, especially if you’ve just finished a high-intensity workout. Static stretching improves flexibility and performance and it can also help stave off future injury.
Same as warm-ups, the right cool-down exercises depend on the activity you engaged in. If you biked for 20 miles, you might coast on your cycle for a while before coming to a stop. If you ran, you might jog or walk before you begin stretching. As with your warm-up, the key is addressing every muscle group you worked during your workout.
The anatomy of a solid cool-down:
- At the end of your workout, slow the pace and intensity of whatever activity you’re doing. So, if you’re running, slow to a jog and then a walk before stopping.
- Stretch out the muscles you work, but don’t push past the point where you feel tight. Then, hold the position for at least 30 seconds. That’s how long it takes for the body to overcome its stretch reflex.
- Breathe through your stretches during fitness trainer courses and make sure to finish your cool-down with deep, belly breaths.