Have you ever left the gym feeling completely drained and sore afterwards? And it’s not that satisfying, accomplished feeling either after smashing an intense session. Chances are, you either didn’t warm up enough or didn’t stretch effectively, or a mix of both. Warming up and stretching are both performed differently and have different aims. If you’re unsure about one or the other, read below to find out how these can benefit you and what you can do to properly warm up and stretch your body so you don’t feel so sore afterwards!
Warming up aims to increase the blood flow to your muscles. Performing exercises, especially heavy lifts while your muscles are still cold and unprepared places unwanted stress on your muscle groups and increases the risk of injury. It is important to recognise which muscle groups will be activated during your training session so you can properly warm them up.
Light cardio is a great tool to get blood flowing through your whole body. Performing DYNAMIC STRETCHES is a highly effective way of warming up and ensuring you are warming up the correct muscles. An example of a dynamic stretch that can be done to warm up your leg muscles prior to moving on to heavy squats would be doing bodyweight squats. This engages the same muscles that will be used and allows your joints to perform a full range of motion.
Stretching post workout is incredibly important and often skipped, especially after a long tiring session … which is exactly when it’s even more important to stretch out those muscles! Stretching increases the circulation and flexibility which is why you should never skip stretching after exercising. This will release the build up of lactic acid which is a major contributing factor to sore and tight muscles that leave you barely able to walk up the stairs after a massive leg day! Lactic acid builds up during an intense training session when your body is failing to provide enough oxygen to your muscles and it can leave your muscles feeling fatigued and in slight discomfort at times. If you aren’t stretching enough to release the build up of lactic acid, it may lead to serious injury over time.
To cool down after exercising, the best thing to do is STATIC STRETCHING. Static stretching consists of holding a position where your muscle is stretched to its full range of motion. This pose should be held at a comfortable position where you are able to feel the stretch in your muscles without causing you pain or too much discomfort. Once again remember to recognise which muscles are being used during your exercise so you can stretch them and reduce the build up of lactic acid, help repair muscles and tears in muscle fibres as well as reduce the risk of injury and soreness.