Warming up and cooling down are key parts to any workout. Doing this properly can be the difference between getting stronger or injury. Before you start doing things you’ll need to know the difference between dynamic stretching vs static stretching.
Dynamic Stretching vs Static Stretching
Dynamic stretching is your warm up. Think of this like cooking a frozen turkey. It’s frozen solid. So you’ll need to defrost it. Our body is the same way. We need to defrost our bodies with small but effective movements to activate those muscles you’ll be using during the workout.
Your prime workout is like cooking the turkey. When it’s all thawed out, you cook it, eat it, enjoy it, and then you have left overs.
Static stretching is your cool down. That’s when you put those leftovers in a container and put them in the fridge. Similarly, our body needs a way to cool off. We just beat up our body and now it’s time to bring it back to normal again; except this time you’re muscles are looking for relief.
Dynamic Stretching- The Warm up
The intent with dynamic stretching is to get things moving. Have you ever put a frozen turkey in a deep fryer? Or have you put frozen veggies on hot vegetable oil? First the turkey explodes (cool!) and second the veggies spit at you (not cool). That’s how our bodies work though.
I like to correlate my dynamic stretches to what I’ll be doing for that day plus something that’ll make me sweat a little. So if I’m doing bench press/chest I can do a dynamic warm up:
-25 Arm Circles forward then 25 backward
-25 hand claps (arms long)
-10 push ups
-3-5 minutes jump rope (makes me sweat a little)
-First two sets of bench are at 25% max weight or just the bar
A good dynamic warm up for squat/legs would look like this:
-10 Air Squats
-10 Waiter’s bows (feet at shoulder width, bend at the waist and go as far as you can without bending your knees. Hands on your chest or hips.)
-50 jumping jacks
-3-5 minutes jump rope
-10 Air Squats
-10 Waiter’s bows
-First two sets of squats are at 25% max weight or just the bar
For curiosity’s sake, here’s a warm up I do for running:
-10 meters high knees 10 meters jog
-10 meters butt kickers 10 meters jog
-10 meters lateral shuffle on right then left side 10 meters jog
-10 meters AB skip to jog
-1 minute of toe taps (to prevent shin splints) per foot
All This Just to Warm Up?!
These warm-ups will take around 7-10 minutes. That’s pretty standard for people just starting off who don’t have much equipment. And you can use this if you don’t have equipment (minus the bench/squat sets). You can sub those bench/squat sets with 5-10 burpees at a slower pace.
Those first initial movements will be tight. Don’t sink right into an air squat, push up, or bow right away. Slow and deliberate movement is important here. You pull muscles when you’re within your own range of motion because those muscles need time to get loose.
If you have more equipment, then you can use that to your advantage. Incorporating medicine balls, kettle bells, or dumbbells at light weights can positively impact a dynamic warm up by getting your muscles adjusted to a small load.
Remember, the intent with a dynamic warm up is to do just that: warm up. If you pull that turkey out of the freezer and immediately put it in the oven, then it won’t cook the way you need it too (especially for Thanksgiving).
What about static stretching for warming up? It may have its place in a warm up, especially if you’re tight in a few different areas (hamstrings, quads, groins are big ones). You can incorporate static stretching during that warm up but it can’t be the only thing you do before your prime workout. You’ll end up failing to fully prepare yourself for a quality workout if you forego those dynamic stretches.
Static Stretching-The Cool Down
This is my favorite. The tough part is over and it’s time to settle everything down. Static stretching is staying in mostly one place to execute a stretch. Think of the hurdler stretch for hamstrings, the butterfly stretch for your groin, or child’s pose. Those are all static stretches designed to gently pull the muscles.
Stretching is more a matter of preference than anything. I have a few token stretches that I rotate through depending on what I feel I need post-workout. Here are a few:
-Overhead Arm Pull (right arm then left)
-Pull arms across your chest one at a time
-Standing Rear Lunge (sit into the hips to stretch the hip flexor or straighten the back leg and put your heel on the ground to stretch the calf)
-Standing or side quadriceps pull
-Single Leg Over (lie on your back, pull one leg over to the other side and hold). Do this for both legs
-Butterfly: stretch for the groin
-Cobra: for abs
-Post Cardio: walk it off…maybe a 5-7 minute cool down walk
If you have an exercise band, then you can use that for your arms and legs as well. Lay down on your back, stick your foot in the band, pull your leg up and gently breathe into that stretch. You can do that for 30 seconds per leg
Foam rollers are nice too for really tight muscles. The key with those: move slowly. I’ve seen guys moving over a foam roller really quickly, and I wonder if it’s even doing anything for them. So, use it if you need.
And if you’re more interested in using bands and rollers, I’ll do another post on it. Bands and foam rolling get pretty in depth.
Yoga goes really well here if you have 15-30 minutes for a good stretching session.
What does this mean?
So, do this right! If you’re starting a workout, then be sure to plan a good warm up and cool down with it. Plan for about 5-10 minutes for both and you should be golden!
You want to keep your body in good condition. Working out is more than just lifting heavy things and putting them down. Or moving really fast for a short/long period of time. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it. So, take advantage of your warm ups and cool downs.
Let me know what you think! Leave a comment below. If you have good warm ups and cool downs, leave a comment and let me know what you do to warm up and cool down. Thanks Garage Gym Goers and I’ll see you next time!