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Warm Up Routines & Cooldown Exercises - Do We Need Them?
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Warm Up Routines & Cooldown Exercises - Do We Need Them?

Warm-Up Routines & Cooldown Exercises - Do We Need Them?

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Warm-Up Routines & Cooldown Exercises - Do We Need Them?
In short? Yes. The long answer involves deep diving into professional athletes' pre-game routines. Serena Williams demonstrates her warm-up routine on-court relays and drills before a tennis match. Sha’Carri Richardson incorporates quick full-body warm-up exercises, shaking her limbs and jumping on the spot at the starting line moments before a race. Simone Biles showcases a warm-up routine involving sprints alongside shoulder, wrist and ankle stretching before a knockout floor routine. And the king, LeBron James, his pre-workout stretches sees him sinking buckets while shooting hoops in the lead-up to his next big game.
From tennis to track-and-field, gymnastics to basketball, no athletes would even think to compete or perform without first putting in their warm-up routine, followed by cool-down stretches. It can take discipline, and it’s not always the most enjoyable part of any workout regime. Still, a warm-up routine, alongside cooldown exercises, should be treated as a non-negotiable component of any training routine, whether you’re an all-star, Olympian, an everyday athlete, or someone looking to exercise a little more throughout the week.
Being disciplined enough to commit to a warm-up routine before every workout or training session improves, including wearing proper attire such as women's bike shorts and activewear leggings your chances of going the distance and avoiding injury. Devoting your time to a warm-up and cool-down routine helps with strength, flexibility and agility, so your body is placed in the best position to increase fitness, endurance and stamina.
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Whole Body Warm-Up Exercises Before a Workout
Although the adage goes, practice makes perfect; we’re more fond of the phrase, practice makes progress. A warm-up and cool-down routine is an essential part of the process. It’s the countless small good habits in the dark that lead to success in the light.
An ideal warm-up routine will zero in on dynamic movements to increase blood flow and muscle temperature without causing muscular fatigue. The primary purpose of a warm-up routine is to speed up oxygen delivery to the muscles intended to be engaged in your planned exercise, allowing the body to move quicker and more efficiently. Warm-up exercises before workout sessions can also improve flexibility and assist with motor-neuron patterns for the routine ahead.
As Serena says, “Luck has nothing to do with it because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.” While warm-up routines for athletes such as Serena may last as long as 40 minutes, most warm-up exercises before workout routines should generally take between two and 10 minutes to prepare your body sufficiently for the training session ahead.
Best Warm-Up Routine Before Workout
“A quote I often use is ‘motion is lotion’,” Gold’s Gym Personal Trainer Katie Merrick tells Well+Good. “A tight body is more prone to get injured if you try to move it too quickly or lift too heavily without your muscles being prepared.”
"When I think of a warmup, I think of dynamic movements to prepare your body for a workout. You perform movements that will increase your heart rate while preparing the right muscles to move well for your workout," says Merrick. "Squats, push-ups, sit-ups and overhead shoulder presses are some of my favourite warmup movements. They target the majority of your body: legs, butt, chest, back, core and shoulders, biceps, and triceps."
Pre Workout Stretches
As for pre-workout stretches, these should generally be dynamic stretches - where no position is held for more than a few seconds - and always follow an active warm-up rather than precede it. “You need to make tissues and tendons compliant before beginning exercise,” Duane Knudson, professor of kinesiology at California State University, told the New York Times.
The FIFA 11+ program, for example, is one of the most effective dynamic warm-ups in modern exercise, reducing the risk of injuries for soccer players while improving performance. Broken down into three parts and consisting of 15 activities in total, the FIFA 11+ focuses on:

1. Slow-speed running exercises coupled with active and partner stretching.

2. Core and leg strength exercises, along with balance, plyometrics and agility.

3. Moderate/high-speed running exercises integrated with cutting and pivoting movements.

Though designed explicitly with footballers in mind, studies have shown the FIFA 11+ can also help reduce the risk of injury among basketball players, as it’s an excellent full-body warm-up exercise that focuses on agility, dynamic movements and strengthening exercises.
In essence, whether you swim, play tennis, work out at the gym, enjoy pilates, or do yoga. Or maybe you want some head space by lacing up your trainers and heading out on a decent run. No matter what the activity is, a good warm-up will prepare your body for exercise.
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The Best Cool Down Exercises After A Workout
Australian tennis player Samantha Stosur states, “flexibility is crucial to my fitness,” and also the best way to cool down from a workout. “Incorporating a good warm-up and cool-down into every session decreases my chances of injury. I use both dynamic and static stretching in my training. I’ve started doing a few yoga sessions incorporating muscle strength training and flexibility.”
Once you’ve put your body through its paces during a tennis game, lengthy yoga sequence or quick sprint session, your body needs to return to its normal state. A cool-down after a workout and stretches help the body wind down, setting you up for successful recovery in the coming hours and days. The benefits of cooling down after exercise include helping to regulate blood flow, reducing heart rate, increasing flexibility, and helping prevent injury.  
Examples of cool-down stretches after running or any other kind of workout session include foam rolling, stretches for quads and calf muscles and chest opener movement, and mobility exercises, which are especially crucial for those who are required to sit or stand much of the day.
Committing to a warm-up routine and cool-down exercises as part of your fitness and life routine cultivates discipline. And for athletes, that’s where the magic can happen.
“Discipline takes a lot of work and a lot of effort. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to work on it to cultivate it. It’s like when you’re cultivating the land. It takes years. So the same applies when you are working at your field. It takes a lot of repetitiveness.” - Serena Williams.