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By Letshego Zulu


Pre- and post-workouts: Why they’re important

Warming up and cooling down prepare the body and mind for exertion and recovery.

Whether you are an experienced weightlifter or a beginner, it’s important to incorporate warming up and cooling down into your routine.

A warm-up should be performed before any exercise, while a cool-down should be done at the end of the workout.

Both warm-ups and cool downs have unique benefits and can help to prevent injury, improve performance and speed up recovery post-workout.

What is a warm-up?

It’s a set of exercises or movements that help to prepare the body for the physical exertion of a workout. Warm-ups generally consist of easy, aerobic exercises that increase circulation, lubricate the joints and raise the body’s temperature.

The purpose of a warm-up is to prevent injury and prepare your body and mind for the task at hand.

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

What are the benefits of a warm-up?

A warm-up has several benefits, including:

  • Increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to working muscles.
  • Prevention of injury by increasing flexibility and mobility.
  •  Increased heart rate and respiration, preparing the cardiorespiratory system for exercise.
  •  Improved performance during the workout by activating key muscle groups and the nervous system.
  •  Mental preparation for the workout ahead.

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How long should a warm-up be?

The length of a warm-up will vary depending on the intensity and duration of the workout that it precedes.

A general guideline is to warm up for five to 10 minutes with low-intensity exercises such as walking, biking, or bodyweight exercises.

It can also help to warm up using the same movements of the exercises that are part of the workout that will follow the warm-up.

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

What is a cool-down?

Cool-downs typically consist of exercises that help to reduce the heart rate and respiratory rate, stretch the muscles, and promote relaxation. The purpose of a cool-down is to return the body to its normal state gradually.

What are the benefits of a cool-down?

A cool-down has several benefits, including:

  • Gradual reduction in heart rate and respiration, helping the body return to its resting state.
  • Improved flexibility by stretching the muscles when they are warm.
  •  Reduced muscle soreness post-workout by promoting blood flow and nutrient delivery to muscles.
  • Improved mental relaxation and recovery.

How long should a cool-down be?

A cool-down should take around five to 10 minutes and include low-intensity exercises.

Warm-up exercises

Some effective warm-up exercises include:

  •  Jogging in place.
  • Jumping jacks.
  • Sets of air squats.
  • Arm circles.
  • Leg swings.
  • Shoulder rolls.
Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

What are some cool-down exercises?

Some useful cool-down exercises are:

  • Walking.
  • Static stretching.

Cool-down stretches focusing on the specific muscles that were worked in your workout. Warm-ups and cool-downs provide essential benefits including improved performance, increased flexibility, reduced muscle soreness and injury.

By incorporating warm-ups before your workout and cool-downs afterward, you can maximise your workout performance and aid faster recovery.

Make sure you always warm-up and cool down before and after every workout.

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