The whole point of heating up before an intense workout is to increase your body temperature and blood flow, decrease the stiffness in the muscles and make your muscles prepare for contraction and relaxation during training.
Proper warm-up will decrease your chances of injuring yourself by lubricating your joints and encouraging them to be flexible.
Your muscles will have a good supply of oxygen and the waste products will be handled properly when your body is required by the training.
By heating and stretching your muscles, you are preparing for optimal performance in your training.
As I mentioned, you need to increase your body temperature and blood flow before you go to the weights.
Some light cardiovascular activity for about 5-10 minutes will help you achieve that.
A body tied to a desk or inactive is unprepared for weight training, so we have to engage in a light but progressive cardiovascular activity before training.
What you do to raise the temperature of your body depends on you. The important thing is that it must involve several parts of the body in action.
After cardio, you need to loosen the stiffness of your muscles and activate them for optimal performance.
In order to achieve this, you must actively stretch.
Sitting or standing on the site while you stretch a muscle will not work.
I mean you do stretch with movement, and this is commonly known as dynamic stretching.
A dynamic stretch is a stretch that is made while moving in a particular range of motion.
This type of stretching is useful for decreasing muscle rigidity because it not only stretches your muscles, it also heats them.
Its ability to kill two birds with a stone is what makes it powerful:
- It warms you up because there is a movement involved. The movement will help keep your body temperature increased and will make you ready for training.
- Stretches your muscles and pushes you to move your joints in their full range of motion.
The key to a successful dynamic stretch is in the following:
- Stretching your whole body: it is important to cover all the major muscle groups. Just because you’re going to be training your back does not mean you should not stretch your hamstrings. Your body is a system that consists of components that help each other. Do not just worry about your goal, worry about it and everything else.
- Do soft dynamic stretching or low intensity, but start to increase progressively without getting tired. You should never tire during a warm-up.
- Actively moves the muscle throughout its range of motion, in a controlled manner.
- Finish the warm-up by doing movements that are similar to your training activity. In other words, the final movements should be oriented in the direction of specific parts of the body that you will exercise or corresponding to your muscular requirements and flexibility of the exercise to which you are preparing.
Dynamic stretching is even more important on cold winter days.
Once you’re hot, stay warm
It does not make sense to warm up and then have a 20-minute static conversation with someone, because you’re going to get cold during that 20-minute period.
When you are in the gym, do what you mainly came to do. The other you can do later.
Another thing that might cool you down, before you’re ready, is to stand around and wait for other people to finish using the equipment.
Do not just stand there, jump and join them, alternating with them. Maybe you end up teaching them a thing or two.
It is important to recover between sets, but a too long break can cool you completely.
Find the balance between having a quick workout and a sufficient recovery between your series.
After training: Static stretching
So famous static stretches can be very useful after a workout, when you do them in a controlled way, helping your muscles relax and cool down.
Static stretching is when you hold a stretch for a certain period of time, say 30 seconds.
And the optimal time for a static stretch is when your muscles are calm and hot, and usually, this is after a workout or between sets.
Static stretching improves the flexibility of the muscles because your muscles tend to become stiff or short.
The first rule of stretching is to never stretch a muscle that is not hot.
If you perform static stretches before your workout, you are stretching a cold muscle and that has been shown to decrease muscle strength.
And that’s why I recommend doing static stretches after a workout or between sets, when your body is hot.