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Raise your hands to the sky and wave them side to side. Now, bend low and touch your toes. Are these song lyrics, a great way to loosen up, or potentially both? The world may never know! Although, in this instance, we want to use this to loosen up (you can sing along too)! Many people tend to neglect their warm-up and cool-down exercises when it comes to physical activities. Yet, your body is at risk of injury by doing so. We want your fitness journey to see progression, not regression! 

Have you ever started a physical activity and felt tightness or stiffness in your muscles? Maybe you have a lack of energy or motivation during your exercise. Without a proper warm-up, these symptoms are very common. Warm-up exercises are not only extremely important for the body but for your mind as well. Warm-up exercises physiologically help prepare your muscles for the next upcoming activity by increasing your respiratory rate, heart rate, and blood flow. Your warm-up does not have to be a long movement, but taking the time to perform one will help reduce the risk of injury and improve your performance.

There are different types of warm-up exercises that you can perform. A few common ones involve stretching, cardio, and mobility exercises. Each one of these warm-up exercises has its benefits and purposes; therefore, choose the one that fits your specific needs. We want to increase flexibility with stretching by moving the muscles and joints through a range of motion. You can perform stretches such as a hamstring stretch or tricep stretch to get your muscles activated. To increase blood flow, heart rate, and energy levels, cardio is the one calling your name. Cycling, jumping jacks, and jogging are all forms of cardio. Mobility exercises are designed to help with your range of motion and flexibility as well. Examples of mobility exercises can be shoulder circles and hip rotations. 

 

What are specific examples of effective warm-up exercises?

  • Hamstring stretch:
    1. To stretch out your hamstrings, first, sit on the floor and place your legs straight out in front of you.

    2. Next, reach towards your toes by leaning forward at the hips.

    3. Begin to hold this stretch for 10-30 seconds.

    4. Repeat this stretch 2-3 times.

Having trouble visualizing this movement? Watch this video.

 

  • Jumping jacks:
    1. To perform a jumping jack, stand straight up with your arms at your sides and feet together.

    2. Next, jump up raising your arms above your head while also spreading your feet out to the sides.

    3. As you are landing, bring your arms back to your sides and your feet together.

    4. Repeat this motion for 30-60 seconds.

Having trouble visualizing this movement? Watch this video.

 

  • Shoulder circles: 
    1. To conduct shoulder circles, start standing up straight with your arms to your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart. 

    2. Next, slowly lift your shoulders towards your ears, then roll them backward in a controlled circular motion.

    3. Resume this motion for 10-15 repetitions and then reverse the direction for another 10-15 reps. 

Having trouble visualizing this movement? Watch this video.

 

Now you can’t get your body excited and activated and just leave it hanging. You have to finish strong and give it a cool down! Cool-down exercises gradually lower your heart rate and blood pressure; as well as, return your body to its pre-exercise state. A cool-down is extremely helpful in preventing post-exercise soreness, and risk of injury, and improves flexibility. A warm-up calls for a cool-down! Let’s get ready to cool down!

There are a variety of different movements you can do to have an effective cool-down. Many warm-up exercises can be used as a cool-down as well. Stretching, yoga, and low-cardio are all great ways to end a workout session. 

 

What are specific examples of effective cool-down exercises?

  • Foam rolling the quadriceps:
    1. To foam roll your quadriceps, you’ll want to lie down on the floor with a foam roller positioned underneath your thigh while keeping your core engaged and supporting yourself with your forearms. 

    2. Start by rolling the foam roller up towards your hips and applying moderate pressure on the front of your thighs.

    3. When you reach your hip, start to slowly roll the roller back down towards your knees.

    4. You’ll repeat this motion for about 30-60 seconds for each leg.

Having trouble visualizing this movement? Watch this video.

 

  • Child’s pose:
    1. Begin this yoga pose on your hands and knees. Place your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

    2. Next, exhale and slowly lower your hips back towards your heels and keep your arms extended in front of you.

    3. Now, you'll lower your forehead to the ground and let your chest sink.

    4. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.

Having trouble visualizing this movement? Watch this video.

 

  • Slow walking:
    1. Slow walking is all about your mindset. Slowly lift one foot off the ground and begin to shift your weight onto the other foot.

    2. Continue walking slowly and intentionally, and focus on your breath, feet, and the environment around you.

Having trouble visualizing this movement? Watch this video.

 

Incorporating warm-up and cool-down exercises needs to be essential when it comes to your fitness journey. It helps prevent injuries and muscle soreness, and improves your overall performance. Make sure to spend extra time before and after your workout to complete these movements. There is no need to rush through them either. Take your time, listen to your body, and be consistent. You only have one body, let's make sure to appreciate and take care of it!

 

Are you interested in these movements and so much more? Please reach out to Body Renovation Fitness Center. Our experts specialize in personal training and nutrition plans to meet your every goal! Feel free to schedule a free evaluation at our website or give us a call at 214-368-3539.

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