Warming up and Cooling down before weight training

Warming up and Cooling down before weight training

1. Importance of Warming Up

A warm-up should begin with easy, low dynamic movements like jogging, skipping, or cycling. This will begin to increase your heart rate and body temperature. If skill or team sports are involved, the warm-up should then incorporate movement patterns that relate to the sport, e.g., passing practice in football. This will begin to prepare you psychologically as well as physically for the sport. This is known as a sport-specific warm-up. Using static stretches within a warm-up is now outdated. Studies have shown that they decrease muscle strength, power, and explosive performance. Static stretching is better conducted after exercise to increase flexibility.

A warm-up prepares your body for exercise and sport. This is done by loosening joints and increasing blood flow to muscles. It also can decrease the risk of overuse or acute injury. A warm-up should be like the workout, starting slowly and then reaching the peak of intensity before finishing. It typically takes around 10-15 minutes and should consist of both general and sport-specific activities.

Increases blood flow

Warming up will reduce the risk of injuries caused by muscle strains as it increases the extensibility of connective tissue. This is advantageous for people with lower flexibility, as less force will be required to stretch a more elastic tendon or muscle. Dynamic stretching can also improve flexibility and range of motion, serving as a link to the next essay topic. Lastly, muscle elasticity and contractility can be improved with an increase in temperature.

Warming up is beneficial as it prepares the cardiovascular system for impending activity. It elevates the heart rate, increases blood flow to the muscles, and raises muscle temperature. Increased blood flow allows for a more efficient supply of oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles. This increased oxygen saturation is advantageous for endurance events and beneficial for weight-training activities that primarily use anaerobic energy systems due to the oxygen debt created. Anaerobic glycolysis and the phosphocreatine system are also more efficient in a higher muscle temperature environment. Higher blood flow will also speed up the removal of metabolic by-products, such as lactic acid, from the muscles, which can cause muscle soreness if accumulated.

Before commencing a weight-training session, it is imperative to prepare the mind and body for the upcoming exertion. Likewise, at the end, it is essential to cool down. The warm-up should be of low to moderate intensity and last approximately 5-15 minutes. There are two types of stretching techniques: dynamic (movement-based) and static (holding a stretch). Increasing evidence supports dynamic stretches as being more appropriate for a pre-workout warm-up.

Improves flexibility and range of motion

In activity, muscle power increments and muscle static adaptability diminishes. Static adaptability is characterized as the range of potential movement around a joint and its encompassing muscles during a stretch, and static extending is the thing that will improve the weight trainers' adaptability. The significance of adaptability doesn't appear to be excessively incredible to a great many people, as the term adaptability is regularly connected with competitors associated with games, for example, aerobatics or combative techniques where their movement is fundamental. Individuals don't comprehend that any expansion in development can be helpful in regular day to day existence. Weight preparing can cause a reduction in adaptability to a great degree, as seen while attempting to play out a simple assignment, for example, tying a shoe and feeling a strain in the leg muscles. A decrease in adaptability can expand the danger of harm and create torment from strain of the now shortened muscle. So an expansion in adaptability will have long haul advantage to any individual who does any types of activity by decreasing the potential for damage and diminishing torment from muscles being stressed. Static extending is an agreeable method to expand adaptability, and the best time to do it is subsequent to doing an overall warm-up.

Enhances muscle activation

What is muscle activation? This may not be a concept familiar to most. However, the knowledge can have a great effect on training performance. Muscle activation is the amount of muscle fibres working in a particular muscle group. The more muscle fibres working, the more force the muscles will produce and better results will be seen from training. It is well known that free weight training and using machines is one of the best ways to stimulate muscle fibres and trigger growth in strength and size. However, in order to utilize these methods to the best of their ability, muscle activation needs to be maximized. An effective way to do this is by doing a warm up specifically designed for muscle activation. One of the best ways to activate muscles is by using them in a sports specific way or performing exercises similar to those in an up and coming training session. This is termed the 'specificity principle'. Studies have shown that to activate muscle 80-100% of maximum, it must be contracting in a similar way to a sport or exercise movement. This is why specific warm ups can be highly beneficial. An experiment by Del Maso F was done to compare general and specific warm ups on peak leg extension force. This is a measure of muscle activation of the quadriceps. The specific warm up involved repeated contractions of the leg extensor muscles, with an increasing load each time. The general warm up consisted of light leg cycling on a stationary bike. The results showed a significant increase in peak force after the specific warm up and a decrease after the general warm up. This provides further evidence that warming up in a specific manner can enhance muscle activation and be highly beneficial to training performance.

Effective Warm-up Techniques

Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique. The all body myofascial release is an effective technique for improving flexibility, recovery, performance, and injury prevention. Just as blood brings oxygen to the muscle and then becomes de-oxygenated, the fascia also becomes dehydrated and hard. This can in turn reduce flexibility and cause pain. The SMR technique is to re-hydrate the fascia and make it more flexible and can be important pre and post event. A performer should implement all body SMR 5-7 days per week, particularly on hard training days or multiple workouts per day. High intensity training (HIT) session on the muscles to be trained in the workout 30-60 seconds is that the weak/tight muscle is repeatedly rolled back and forth between the roller. This increases blood flow and oxygen to the muscle.

Use dynamic stretching to mobilize a full range of motion around the joint. Dynamic stretching is designed to properly prepare the muscles for performance and is better than the traditional static stretching. This method will not help to decrease performance as long as the exercises are specific to the movements that will be performed in the sports arena. Sports that are more controlled and do not involve much change of direction can stick to basic A to B dynamic stretches. E.g. for the hamstrings or quadriceps. If the sport is more higher intensity and variable in movement, specific dynamic stretches can be made. E.g. for football, a game that involves a lot of change in direction and sprinting, a dynamic stretch can be created where the individual kicks their own leg up at 90 degrees as if they were about to sprint.

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching is a type of stretching which incorporates movement. Many of the movements done in dynamic stretching resemble the movements in the sport or activity that is to be performed. Its main purpose is to effectively help in the workout that will follow and also to prevent injury. It targets muscle groups to be used in the workout that will follow and will usually consist of movements that will increase the heart rate. Even though the term dynamic stretching can be a type of conflicting term, it is highly recommended to do a mixed variety of dynamic stretching which will be also explained later. Static stretching can be beneficial in loosening tight muscles and increasing overall flexibility but is considered to be a poor choice before a workout because it does not sufficiently prepare the body for the athletic endeavour that is to follow. Static stretching has been found to reduce strength in that muscle stretched for one hour. Each different type of physical activity will require different types of dynamic stretching that will best prepare the muscles used in that activity. For example, a golfer will require less focus on leg dynamic movements and much more focus on upper body movements, especially around the shoulders and back. This individuality can be applied to weight training. An athlete doing lower body training will focus much more on leg dynamic stretching than an athlete doing upper body. In any type of weight training, it is essential to do light cardiovascular exercises to begin with, such as walking, cycling, etc. After about 5-10 minutes of this, the main workout can begin, interspersing different muscle groups used in exercise with the dynamic stretching for that muscle group. This type of method is known as general warm up and specific warm up.

Foam rolling

Foam rolling or self-myofascial release is a form of self-massage with the use of a foam roll implement to release muscle tightness. A recent study illustrated that an acute bout of foam rolling on the hamstrings enhanced flexibility without hampering muscle performance. The changes in flexibility occurred with 4, 1-minute sets of foam rolling the hamstrings. Avoid foam rolling the lower back as it may cause unnecessary stress to the area and the benefits aren't that great. The upper back is safe to foam roll the rhomboids and between the shoulder blades, however it may be difficult to perform in the gym. Another test in the same study showed that acute bouts of foam rolling on the quadriceps had a significant increase in knee joint ROM without hampering muscle performance. This change in ROM also occurred with 4, 1-minute sets of foam rolling. Each study proved that only 2 minutes of foam rolling each muscle group can significantly enhance flexibility and joint range of motion.

Light cardiovascular exercises

Heated muscles are less likely to tear and also the greater blood flow to the muscles will cause more power and resistance. Energy systems function more efficiently with a warmer body and will improve endurance during high-intensity weight training (Kawamoto et al., 2014). This will allow one to engage in longer, more intense training sessions which are known to generate greater results. Lifting weights with cold muscles stimulate the fast glycolysis and phosphagen systems without the support of oxygen causing an early onset of fatigue and decrease in performance. This can easily be avoided by partaking in a short 5-10 minute light cardio session as a warm-up.

When engaging in a cardiovascular activity, blood flow increases and the body starts to build up more heat. Cardio exercises increase the body's temperature and by doing so, the muscles become more pliable (Woods, 2006). This is useful because the more pliable a muscle is, there is less likelihood that you will cause damage to the muscle. The best way to warm up for a weight training workout is to do light cardio exercises to increase body temperature and blood flow to working muscles. This is necessary because performing cardio after weight training will diminish the metabolic response to conditioning the musculoskeletal system and will remove lactic acid and other metabolic waste products from the muscles (Bishop, 2003).

Joint mobilization exercises

There is not a lot of specific research into the benefits of joint mobilization exercises. The warm-up technique is also not widely known and understood. But it is definitely a type of exercise to consider when warming up for weight training. Mobilizing your joints is essentially moving each joint in its full range of motion. This can be done standing or lying down and simply involves gently moving the joint forwards and backwards getting near the limit of its range of motion but not forcing it. When the joint has been moved in this manner for a few times it will gain a slightly increased range of motion for a short amount of time before returning to its original mobility. This can allow exercises involving the joint to have a greater range of effect and increase the stretch on some muscles. It can also serve as a precursor to static stretching specific to one joint which has been known to be the most effective stretching method. Static stretching is holding a position that elongates the muscle or tendon for an extended period of time. This type of stretching is purely mechanical and uses the elasticity of musculotendinous structures which builds up through exercise. Static stretching can also help to increase range of motion for the joint and improve muscle performance and reduce injury. Joint mobilization exercises can also help increase the bodies awareness of the position and movement of a joint and therefore has been said that it can improve motor control of limbs as the brain registers the increased mobility and looks to use it. This extra control of joints and muscle should lead to a performance enhancement for resistance training and can improve the skill in technique of specific exercises. Overall the improvement in joint flexibility and range of motion can lead to more strength gains and muscle growth from weight training as greater mobility of a joint generally aids in enhanced muscle force. This type of warm-up will take a variable amount of time depending on the number of joints you mobilize and will have a lesser cardiovascular effect compared to other warm-up techniques. So for weight training it may be best to follow this with some specific stretching and light repetition exercises of the intended resistance training exercises for that session.

Benefits of Cooling Down

So now that we know what a cool down actually is, what good will it do us? Evidence of the long term effects of cooling down is somewhat anecdotal because of the very nature of trying to prove what didn't happen due to something that you did! So there will be no measurable evidence to support that cooling down prevents delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). However, it is logical to suggest that if there is a faster removal of muscle waste produce and a quicker return to normal muscle length, there would be less muscle soreness in the days following a hard session. It would also be logical to suggest that if the body is in a relaxed state, there will be a better recovery. When the body is cold and wet, it takes longer to dry. Similarly, if your body is still hot and sweaty, it will take longer to return to its normal state. If you step out of the shower and then stand still in a steamy bathroom, you'll be sweatier than if you step out and immediately into a cool, dry room. The longer the body takes to return to its stable state, the longer it is in a catabolic state. A catabolic state is undesirable after training; it is where there is a break down of complex molecules into simpler ones often accompanied with a release of energy. Although this is essential for growth and repair, a long or chronic catabolic state can lead to muscle wastage and lower immune function.

Reduces muscle soreness

To find out what can reduce muscle soreness in weight lifters, be sure to check the formatting of the italicized quote on page 364 of Physical Fitness and Performance. There are many theories and countless studies on what can help to reduce muscle soreness. All of these findings suggest that preventing soreness is much more effective than treating it once it happens, like after waking up the morning following an intense workout. Cooling down in a low intensity manner, such as walking on a treadmill, has been proven to be effective in the prevention of muscle soreness. The intensity of the cool down has shown to have no correlation with the levels of muscle soreness. A cool down should be something enjoyable and comfortable for the individual. Intense stretching has been widely considered as a way to reduce muscle soreness and there are countless ways one can stretch. Yoga is an excellent way to get a deep stretch. A study was done on young adult women in Australia comparing yoga to normal stretching over 8 weeks, and found that the women who did yoga had significantly less muscle soreness following cardiovascular exercise. The last known method to reduce muscle soreness is through massage, but it is difficult to determine whether it is the physical rubbing of the muscles that helps, or a placebo effect. Either way, many athletes report that massage has helped to reduce muscle soreness and improve general performance.

Promotes recovery and relaxation

Using relaxation techniques as part of the cool down can be helpful regarding anxiety levels in people who have used weight training as rehabilitation for anxiety-provoking medical conditions. Anxiety levels can be measured by the level of worrying and also physiological indicators such as heart rate. Systolic blood pressure and heart rate have been shown to decrease more rapidly back to normal levels after exercise if a cool down involving relaxation techniques is used. Core temperature and dilation of the blood vessels in the skin have also been shown to decrease at a quicker rate during the recovery period if a person has undergone a cool down period involving relaxation techniques. This results in less cardiac work and oxygen consumption, which becomes essential to cardiovascular patients or people with diseases or limitations that affect the circulatory system.

When cooling down after a weight training session, you could take your body from its peak exercise state to complete rest in a step by step manner. This is important for mental recovery following the exercise session and feelings of well-being. Relaxation can occur during the cool down as endorphins that have been released during the exercise bring about the state of euphoria commonly known as a "runner's high." The cool down can also be a period of time to reflect back on the exercise session. Although competitive athletes could take losing as an opportunity to learn and adjust for future performances.

Helps prevent dizziness and fainting

Cooling down after a workout is just as important as warming up. It helps to gradually decrease your heart rate and jumpstart your recovery process. Cooling down aids in preparing your body to return to its natural state and can help prevent dizziness or fainting. When you work out, your heart rate increases, blood is pumped to the working muscles, and the ability to lose heat through your skin's surface is greatly reduced. This is especially true if you stop a strenuous exercise abruptly and sit down or lie down immediately. The blood pools in the legs as the heart will still be racing, and this can cause dizziness and fainting. If you are training in the gym, the chances of this happening are increased if you consider exercises like squats or leg press, where a large amount of blood is forced to the working muscles. A sudden halt to an exercise like this and sitting in the nearest chair can leave you feeling very lightheaded. This can be potentially dangerous as fainting can lead to falls and can cause injuries. If you spend 5-10 minutes at the end of your workout in light cardiovascular exercise, i.e. walking on the treadmill, this will help to gradually decrease your heart rate, bring the blood back to the working muscles, and reduce the chances of dizziness and fainting.

Recommended Cooling Down Activities

Deep breathing and meditation is the most convenient method of cooling down. It can be practiced in any location and under any circumstance. Deep breathing and meditation can reduce stress and anxiety levels by inducing a relaxation response. Deep breathing increases the elimination of waste products, including carbon dioxide, which has been linked to anxiety and panic attacks. Deep breathing also relaxes the muscles and massages the organs and can also reduce blood pressure. Taking 10 minutes to practice deep breathing and meditation after training can significantly improve recovery and further your health and well-being.

Low-intensity cardio exercises can include activities such as bike riding and walking. This can help to disperse the lactic acid which has built up in the muscles. It aids in the recovery of the cardiovascular system, reduces muscle soreness and fatigue. It can also enhance your mental recovery by taking your mind off intense activity and delaying the onset of fatigue in later life. This can be done for 5-10 minutes post-training for the most effect.

Static stretching involves holding a particular stretch for 15-30 seconds, without movement. This seems to be the most popular and widely used method of cooling down. A study that is referenced within the text suggests that static stretching can lead to an increase in flexibility. However, this is often debated due to other studies that show this holds no effect or can actually decrease flexibility. It is suggested that static stretching can reduce muscle soreness in the days following intense exercise, although the reason for this is not yet understood. It can also help to relax the body and the mind, helping a person to mentally recover after the exercise session. Static stretching immediately after training and up to 1 hour post-workout is the best way to incorporate this into a training regime. Static stretching also maintains and increases range of motion, as well as flexibility, which is very important for strength training and bodybuilding athletes.

Static stretching

Both resistance training and cardio workouts create an increase in muscle temperature, and static stretching during the cool-down process enhances recovery. The Safran et al. (1988) muscle temperature theory suggests that following exercise, a muscle's increased temperature can be sustained for a period of time during the cool-down phase, providing an environment conducive to increased flexibility and a greater ability to elongate muscles. This has pulled in extensive research in the area of static stretching post-exercise, with current available literature still showing no consensus on the true effects of post-exercise static stretching. What has been identified is that static stretching performed at any time is beneficial in preventing the loss of flexibility and range of motion, which are vital components in overall health and fitness.

Begin to slow down your body throughout the latter stages of your workout. You may like to stretch your key muscles such as legs, back, chest, and shoulders to ensure they are left in an elongated state. Static stretching is a highly effective form of stretching and involves holding a stretch for a period of 15-30 seconds at the limit of the muscle's length. Static stretching facilitates muscle relaxation and lengthening, which is beneficial in reducing muscle soreness post-exercise and enhances flexibility. This form of stretching is vital in maintaining current flexibility levels and prevents the loss of range of motion, which can occur with the presence of tight muscles due to various strength training exercises. Static stretching should be conducted 5-10 minutes at the conclusion of your workout session.

Low-intensity cardio exercises

Using a cardio machine such as a rower or an elliptical Use the same approaches as with walking or cycling. Keep the intensity very low and duration at only 5-10 minutes before moving onto other cool down techniques. A shower or bath approximately 1 hour after your cool down session should also facilitate the lowering of the body temperature and will induce a more sleepy state ideal for a good night's rest to maximize recovery.

Stationary cycling This can be more convenient than walking at the gym if there is a bike available, and is a good transition to the more static stretching or relaxation techniques. Adjust the resistance to a low level. Try to cycle for 5-10 minutes to get the blood flowing and then proceed to stretching off the bike. An outdoor bike is suitable if the terrain is flat and you are not feeling overly fatigued.

Going for a short walk Walking for 5-10 minutes is a good low-impact way to start your cool down after weight training. Treadmills work well for this, and can progressively lower the speed after 5 minutes to make it even easier. If the weather is nice, consider walking to the gym if it is within a reasonable distance. If it's a weekend and you will not be pressed for time, take a longer walk home. This will help to clear your mind and is an excellent way to wind down from an intense weight training session.

Deep breathing and meditation

Meditation is when an individual focuses their mind on an object, thought, or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. It has been practiced since antiquity in numerous religious traditions and beliefs and is often used in the complementary health approaches of mind-body practices. A 2004 study on swimmers and a 2008 study on volleyball players both found that regular practice of transcendental meditation increased athletic performance. This is due to many factors such as increased relaxation, faster recovery time, and improved mental and emotional states. Competitive sports result in over-excitation of the sympathetic nervous system (the system responsible for mobilizing the body for action), which can lead to increased anxiety and symptoms of stress-related disorders. Because meditation is effective in the reduction of sympathetic activity, it undeniably can reduce the negative effects of stressful physical and mental situations. Transcendental meditation has also been found to increase serotonin levels in the brain. Higher serotonin levels can result in mood elevation and an increased resilience to stress. This is particularly useful for athletes as many find they have trouble with mood swings due to intensive training and competition.

Stress causes tension in major muscle groups, and in order to focus on stimulating relaxation, cooling down must consist of activities that range from methods of stretching and low-intensity exercise to relaxation strategies such as deep breathing and meditation. Deep breathing is ideal because it facilitates gas exchange in the lungs, which removes residual carbon dioxide, the waste product of metabolic activity, and assists the oxygenation of the body. Deep breathing increases the flow of oxygen to your muscles throughout the body, which helps to remove built-up waste products such as lactic acid. It will also lower your heart rate and blood pressure, allowing the body to enter a state of relaxation.