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  • Writer's pictureCourtney LeVesque

Why is Warming Up and Cooling Down so Important?

The human body is the world’s most complicated supercomputer ever created. It runs on almost any grade of fuel ( not well on poor diet choices) it will resist disease, heal itself as fast as possible, it can go nearly a week without water and almost 2 weeks without food. The fact that our bodies don’t always seem to ask very much from us regularly is incredible.

When we begin adding in exercise and resistance training, we start to ask more out of our bodies. Now it has to be adequately warmed up, the exercises need to be performed in a safe and controlled manner to avoid injury, and then it’s essential to cool down. Why are these warm-up and cool-down sessions so important? Let’s dive in and explore a few facts that may help clear this all up.

Let’s start with warming up. When we begin our exercise session with a 10-minute moderate-intensity warm-up with low impact, a few things begin to happen.

The warmer the muscle is, the more oxygen that gets delivered to the muscles before adding a load to them.

By warming up, we help prevent the build-up of unwanted waste products, which will lead to muscle soreness.

The warm-up period prepares the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, nervous system, and the musculoskeletal system by gradually increasing the demand on those systems so that they can accommodate the demands of more strenuous activity.

The warmer a muscle is, the more flexible and pliable they will be, and the more reactive they will continue to stay during and after your intense workout session.

There are two main types of warm-up, general sports-specific and sports specific. The purpose of General Warm-up is to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. In contrast, the Sports Specific Warm-up establishes the relationship between the upcoming specific movements/workout.

How and Why do we Cool Down?

The Cool Down is equally crucial for several reasons.

Reduce Heart and breathing rates.

Gradually cool your body's temperature.

Return your body's muscles to their optimal length and tension.

Prevent the pooling of blood in the lower extremities, which can cause dizziness or possible fainting.

When we are training, we heat our bodies so they will move and explore a greater range of motion than we usually experience in our everyday life. We typically don’t sprint to the kitchen for a glass of water, unless your my nine-year-old son who runs EVERYWHERE he goes! We move in a slower, more controlled manner during our workday, walking in a store, cooking dinner, and just general relaxation.

When we're training hard and have adequately warmed up, pounded out an amazing workout, and shower off, we are missing a crucial step. To avoid muscle soreness and tightness that can lead to injury, and get rid of the waste created by our muscles during a strenuous exercise, the cooling down process is important.

What does a proper cool down look like?

Let's say that you have spent the past 45-60 minutes getting after a full-body, high-intensity training session. You have built up a great sweat, challenged your muscles in both a cardio and weight resistance manner, and now it’s time to cool down. The best way to get the job done would happen in the following steps.

Continue drinking water or a Low Sugar Electrolyte drink for 20-30 minutes.

Grab a foam roller and start on the largest muscle groups that you have challenged (back or legs).

Work your way from top to bottom of your body being sure to focus a good amount of time on each muscle group until they feel almost numb (without pain).

Stretch your muscles for 30-60 seconds per muscle group to elongate those muscle fibers. ( this will NOT be nearly as effective if you wait an hour post-WO as the muscles will be cold and resist the stretch).


There you have it. Think of your body as a high-performance machine that starts slowly when it's cold and has a hard time slowing down after you have raced it around. Try these examples before and after your next training session, and I assure you your body will not only thank you, but it will also give you the highest return it possibly can.

article was written by Steven Dahn

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