The Importance of Warming Up. Warming up your muscles is super important for a lot of reasons, namely performance and injury prevention. Think of a cold rubber band. It isn’t very stretchy. If you take that rubber band and try to stretch it, it may even break.
Your muscles are like a rubber band. They perform their best when they’re warm and prepared to move.
Warming up before a workout is a quickest and most effective way to make sure you perform at your best. It will help you prevent injury, improve focus, and prevent the pain from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
The right way to do it
· Don’t stretch – move
In gym class, you probably did things like toe touches. These types of stretches – static stretches – have their place, but they aren’t ideal for before a workout. Some studies have shown that these kinds of stretches can decrease muscle strength and performance.
Instead of static stretching, use movement to your advantage. Try to get your whole body ready for movement. Here are a few moves to try.
o Arm circles
o Marching in place
o Jumping jacks
Stay hydrated and eat some food – Your diet and hydration are incredibly important for your performance. If you’re dehydrated or your stomach is empty, you’re going to feel sluggish, which will hamper performance.
On top of mental exhaustion, your muscles will be searching for fuel that it doesn’t have.
About 30 minutes before your workout, try drinking a glass of water and having a snack that’s high in carbohydrates, like a banana or a granola bar. You’ll be shocked at how much better you feel.
The Importance of Cooling Down
Cooling down after a workout is just as important as warming up, but it is often neglected.
You probably don’t want to do MORE work after you finish a challenging workout, but you definitely should bring your body back down from the elevated state of effort that a workout puts in.
While warming up helps you perform, cooling down will help you recover. It helps reduce the amount of lactic acid that has built up over the course of your work. It will also help ease sore muscles that come in the form of DOMS.
The right way to do it
Do the same thing, but less intense – One example of cooling down in this way is walking for ten minutes after a running workout. You can also try some more of the dynamic stretches you did for the warm-up.
Choose something similar to the workout. Perform that activity for five to ten minutes at a low intensity. It should be easy enough that your heart rate begins to slow down.
Relieve tension – Static stretching works well here instead of before a workout because your muscles and tendons will already be warm and ready to stretch. This will help improve your flexibility without putting too much strain on your muscles.
You could also try something like foam rolling. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release (SMR). It relieves tension in your muscles.
Refuel – After a workout, you need protein. Protein is what your body uses to rebuild muscles. When you work out, microscopic tears form in your muscles. When your body repairs these tears, the muscles grow and get stronger.
Eat a balanced meal with a good source of protein for maximum muscle growth from a workout. Your body will thank you, and you’ll avoid losing any progress you’ve made!
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