February 19, 2018 - TCO
Warm up to perform, cool down to recover
Warming up is more than something you should do before the “real” workout begins. It’s the actual start of the workout. It also sets the tone for your workout and is the most important part of training.
If your warmup lasts 10 minutes, and you do it six times a week, that adds up to an hour’s worth of warming up per week. Over the course of a year, that is valuable training time that you don’t want to waste.
A good warmup can mean many different things depending on the activity that follows, but all warmups should have a logical progression.
The warmup should progress from general, large whole-body movements to complex, activity-specific movements. Mobility, strength, balance, power and change of direction are components to include in a warmup, emphasizing certain components more than others, depending on the activity to come. Limit static stretching in the warmup and save it primarily for the cooldown. Don’t worry; we’ll get into cooldowns later.
For now, take a look at these sample warmups (perform each exercise for 10 yards, twice):
- Knee hugs
- Inchworm with push-up
- Side lunge
- Forward lunge
- Frankenstein walk
- Bear crawl (or Spider-Man warmup)
- Side shuffle
- Skips for height or distance
Many research studies show a proper warmup, which includes the aforementioned components, can reduce injury risk. That opens up the potential for more training. Research also shows a consistent warmup can improve balance, strength, power and speed, which allow for a potential increase in performance.
And finally, we get to the cooldown. The cooldown is important for recovery; it helps our bodies return to a resting state, effectively and efficiently, which allows for maximum gains.
Check out these cooldown examples (do for 3 minutes each):
- Foam roll
- Static stretch
- Foam rolling and stretching emphasis depends on the workout but should generally focus on the glutes, groin and quads.
Warming up is valuable training and should be treated as such, and the cooldown sets the tone for the next workout, so be sure to prioritize both for a successful training program.