Great Guest Article on Warming Up and Cooling Down

Today we have a guest article from Char Engelhardt, a personal trainer at Westmoreland Athletic Club! She talks about the importance of warming up and cooling down during your workout!

How to Do an Effective Warm-up

Most people have a small amount of time for a workout because of work and home responsibilities.  But for a very small portion of that workout, an effective workout is essential to prep muscles for the workout, reducing the possibility of injury.

A warm-up preps the muscles for your workout.  Exercising “cold” can strain muscles and tendons.  In just 5 minutes, simple walking or slow movement mimicking your exercises brings blood to the muscles, causing a little heat to build up in those muscles.  Your heart is a muscles that works too, so that 5 minutes helps your heart prepare to meet the demands of your cardio and/or strength routine.

Your warm-up is just as much of your exercise routine as the cardio and strength training that you plan to do.  Some things that you can do to make your valuable time effective for your cardio would be to walk on the treadmill or elliptical at no grade and no resistance.  This may feel super simple, but as you begin to feel warmer, bump up the pace and begin your challenges for your workout.  The programs on the equipment have a warm-up programmed in and is based on the amount of time you will spend working out.  For a weight routine, try walking at a brisk pace into the gym.  Move your arms as you walk to help work blood into the upper extremities.  Before packing weight onto your squats, trot up and down the steps. You can then enjoy your weight workout.  If you are working with a personal trainer, your trainer has designed a warm-up into your program if you don’t already plan to do cardio before your appointment.  Your workout will go much smoother with little to no soreness afterwards.

If you need help figuring out how to do your warm-up based on the workouts you do, please feel free to ask one of our available trainers for help.

Why Bothering with a Cool-Down is So Important

Just as important as the warm-up that was discussed earlier, the cool-down is a very essential part of every workout routine. It only takes 5 minutes at most and it will help in reducing or eliminating muscle soreness, preventing passing out and helping to prevent blood pooling in the legs.

The gradual decrease in your activity or doing light walking for 5 minutes draws lactic acid out of the muscles to reduce or eliminate muscle soreness.  This is especially important for anyone doing weight training.  Dealing with muscle soreness is a nuisance and can be avoided or reduced with just a little bit of work.  If you save part of your cardio work for after the weights, you will already be set for your cool-down.

Your cool-down is very much like a warm-up, but in the reverse.  If you are doing cardio, gradually slow down your pace, bring the grade of the incline down and carefully lower the resistance.  Many of the cardio programs on our machines have a cool-down programmed in just like the warm-up. If not or you are building your own, you can do this very easily by changing the settings every 30 to 60 seconds until you are at a comfortable walking pace.  Dizziness and passing out is avoidable after a cardio routine. After stopping the machine, make sure to stand still for a few seconds before stepping off, especially if you take blood pressure medications.

As the pace slows, your heart rate will return to a pre-exercise rate.  The blood redistributes through the body so that mild swelling and heat in your legs and feet returns to a normal state.  Your breathing returns to normal and you are ready for the rest of your day!

If you have a personal trainer, he or she will program that into your routine or make recommendations on how to do so after your session.  Should you have questions about how to do a cool-down in your own workout routine, please feel free to ask any of our available trainers for assistance.

Next week is all about pre and post workout nutrition! Get ready for lots of recipes and ideas!

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