How much importance do you attribute to warming up and down? Do you even bother at all? Many gym-goers either give these important training aspects very little time or just don’t bother with them altogether. Well, you can’t make a sandwich without the bread.
The warm-up and warm-down (also commonly called the cool-down) are vitally important for your workouts, especially for weight trainers.
You must give these phases as much attention and dedication as the bulk of your training, and for very different reasons.
Sandwiching your working sets and efforts between well organized, effective periods will improve your lifting and general exercise performance, greatly reduce the risk of injury, and improve your gains.
Yes, properly acclimatizing your body, then ensuring you warm-down adequately, will increase your muscle mass and strength. Paying attention now??
What’s the Difference Between a Warm-Up a Warm-Down?
Done properly, there’s a big difference between warming up and down. This is mainly because the two disciplines revolve around two completely different goals.
Warming up is all about getting the blood pumping, mobilizing the joints and muscles, and preparing the body for the specific exercises ahead. Failing to warm up adequately leads to increased wear and tear on the joints and connective tissues, as well as a massively elevated risk of acute injuries such as muscle and tendon tears. Getting the blood pumping will also increase performance due to the cardiovascular shunt mechanism. The deeper muscle tissues will be filled with blood and fuel, providing a larger and more efficient machine
Warming down comes with a totally different set of priorities. At the end of your workout your muscles and joints are incredibly stressed and filled with massive amounts of toxic by-products and pooled blood. Simply stopping dead and hitting the showers leaves the body in this harmful state, leading to increased muscle soreness, potential damage, and a far slower and less comprehensive recovery. Warming down is all about gently flushing the body, bringing your biochemistry as close to equilibrium as possible, as well as stretching and refueling.
An excellent way to improve your warm-up and get great pumps throughout your workout is to use a nitric oxide booster. Sheer NO is crammed with scientifically proven, potent ingredients that will increase your nitric oxide levels, causing the blood vessels to dilate, sending blood, fuel, and other nutrients deep into the muscle tissues.
You may want to jump into the weights room and get going with the main course, but you should understand the necessity and benefits of the warm-up by now. Embrace it. Warming up can also be fun. It’s also the perfect time to get the socializing out of the way before getting focused.
Stage 1- Mobilization
Before you do anything else, you should mobilize the muscles and joints of the body, most importantly, the body parts that will be bearing the brunt of your workout.
This means shoulder wheels, knee raises, side steps, wrist circles etc. etc. Work out all of those creaks and get the blood moving.
Stage 2- LIGHT Stretching
Note the capitals… LIGHT stretching!
NEVER hit cold muscles with deep stretches unless you want to strain or even tear something. Cold muscles are much stiffer and more prone to injury than warm and pumped tissues. Leave the deep stretches until later.
Light stretching means gently giving the muscles a little shove, always with perfect form. NEVER bounce in a stretch, even when you’re fully warm. All you need to do at this stage is give everything a light stretch out from all angles, again concentrating heavily on the target muscles, and not forgetting the core.
Stage 3- Cardio
Yup, cardio. Now that you have everything mobilized and stretched ready for a little action, you need to really get the blood pumping. Choose an activity that you can easily regulate and that utilizes the body parts you intend to train. 5 to 10 minutes is fine. You’re not looking to waste energy, just to open up the muscle tissues.
Now for the good news… Your warm-up cardio should be done at a gentle pace. The last thing you want to do is start injecting the muscles with lactic acid before you even begin. If you have a heart rate monitor, aim for between 40 and 70% of your maximum sustainable heart rate. For those without a monitor, this is a pace where you are in no way getting out of breath and could easily continue for a good while.
Example Warm-Up Routines
When your exercise at high intensity, your muscles begin to break down. Proteins and their amino acids are used as localized energy sources. Taking Sheer BCAA before, during, and after your workouts will elevate blood levels of these energy rich aminos, drastically lowering the amount of muscle tissue broken down for fuel.
Never launch into your main workout with anything approaching a heavy weight, or even a working set.
Your warm-up finishes with very light weight, high rep sets. Warm-up sets.
These sets precede your working sets, ensuring the most vulnerable body parts are put through their paces, and the muscles are fully opened up.
For squats, deadlifts, bench press, and all other big compound lifts, the weight of the bar will suffice. Get the body attuned to the movement ahead.
Staying Warm During Workouts
Don’t just sit about between sets, chatting or playing with your phone. Use the time to maintain good mobilization and gradually push the muscles through ever deeper stretches. As the muscles become warmer, they can take more and more of a stretch. This also sheds a little lactic acid and is especially important for the big lifts where rest times may be longer.
The last thing you want to do at the end of a tough workout is to simply grab your bag and drive home, no matter how much that seems like a great idea. It’s warm-down time.
Stage 1- Stretching and Shaking Out
Begin your warm-down by loosening up with a comprehensive stretching out of each and every heavily worked muscle group. Don’t be afraid to go deep now, but keep form strict. Poor stretching technique is ineffective at best. Shake the muscles out between stretches.
Don’t be afraid to get hands on with the muscles here.
Stretching releases lactate and is the first step to avoiding excess muscle soreness and kickstarting recovery.
Stage 2- Gentle Cardio
Note the ‘gentle’ again. You are looking to expel lactic acid, not add to it. Keep in the area of 40-70% maximum heart rate, tapering off to the lower end of this range.
Warm-down cardio is aimed at pumping the muscles with blood, similar to the warm-up, but this time you are trying to release lactate and other toxic by-products while delivering fuel and recovery nutrients into the battle zone. Again, work the muscles that have been hit through the working part of your session. Rowing, jogging, and skipping are excellent warm-down cardio exercises.
Stage 3- Nutrition
Intense anaerobic exercise, and prolonged exercise in general, leave the body in a heavily catabolic state. You need to rapidly reverse this.
The final aspect of your warm-down is nutrition.
You need to give your body everything it needs to recover and grow.
This means top quality protein to provide the building blocks of muscle. Protein powders are perfect for this, being packed with rapidly absorbed, high biological value proteins designed to find their way into the muscle tissues and lay down the gains.
Your muscles will also be drained of stored carbohydrates, known as glycogen. Post-exercise they are a sponge for carbs, which are sucked up alongside a mass of water and other nutrients. Rapidly absorbed carbohydrate powders are available, but foods such as bananas are perfect for replenishment.
Avoid high-fat foodstuffs post-workout as they slow down the absorption of other important nutrients, hindering recovery.
In addition to the macronutrients, there are many other molecules that can send your recovery into orbit. Look no further than Sheer Recovery. This great little supplement is jam-packed with all those little extras that will stimulate recovery and growth while promoting the expulsion of harmful waste products.
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