No workout routine is complete without a warm up and after workout stretch. These two bits are the final piece of your workout puzzle. One saves you from injury while the other keeps your body limber.
The Warm Up
A warm up is exactly what it says it is. It warms you up, preparing your body for later intensity.
This is really up to your body. Younger guys and gals can easily get away with 15 minutes, maybe even less whereas older people generally need at least 30 minutes. What's important here is making sure you warm up the entire body and you do so correctly.
What To Do?
Warm ups are comprised of two parts:
Light cardio is pretty easy to figure out on your own. Walk a bit. Do a light jog. Perform one jumping jack every 10 seconds.
Stretching is a bit trickier, but at this early stage, you only need to know:
At the moment, there's quite a bit of controversy surrounding which one is better, as a quick read through of a Google Scholar search can show you. If you don't feel like sifting through the somewhat intense scientific language, here's what you need to know:
You want to make sure your muscles and joints have all awoken from their slumber with the kiss of blood before you ask them to do anything they wouldn't normally do during your daily routine.
A Note for Lifters
When you start to hit the heavier weights that could seriously fuck you up if done incorrectly, you now require an addition to your warm up. As this site points out, this third portion is all about building up to your max with a pyramid - a lot of reps with a minimal amount of weight followed by subsequently larger and larger weights at fewer and fewer reps.
The After Workout Stretch
The stretch is not here to prevent muscle soreness or keep you free from injury, according to a review of scientific literature. However, what it does do is increase your flexibility and range of motion, two things necessary for improving your overall performance. After all, you can't squat properly until it's ass to grass.
This is a wonderful routine because it covers all major muscle groups. As the writer suggests, each stretch should be done for a total of 60 seconds, but if you need to split it into two intervals of 30 seconds, that's cool too. The key is to never go lower than 30 seconds or the stretch has little to no effect.
Co-host of HeroesForge, founder of Battle to Be Better, gamer, singer and all around happy person.