While warm ups and cool downs are important parts of your workout, many gym-goers find themselves skipping these crucial components day after day. As the weeks go by, you may notice tight muscles and nagging sore spots that just won’t disappear. Stretching is a small investment of your time that can lead to huge gains down the line, so it’s well worth the effort to learn how to stretch properly. Read on for some great fitness tips and tricks!
Activate the Nervous System
Just like a cold battery can stall your car, your central nervous system needs a little warm up before you can get going. During a sedentary day, your central nervous system is essentially in a power-saving mode. You need to get it in gear for an intense workout by doing a little prep work. Thus, a light warm-up can help your body and mind prepare properly for the physical activity ahead. You could try something as simple as jumping jacks or as elaborate as a full-body mobility routine.
Warm Up the Muscles
Now that you’re mentally prepared, it’s time to activate your muscles. The goal is to get the blood pumping, so your muscles and ligaments are warm and ready to work. You can achieve this result in a number of ways. Consider doing a less-intense version of your workout to switch on the specific muscles that you need. That means a light jog on the treadmill before your sprint work, or a set of air squats before you head for the squat rack. This allows your muscles to acclimate as you ramp up intensity. What if you enjoy a more eclectic workout? Try the versatile UltraSlide lateral trainer. Use a product like the UltraSlide 7 to perform everything from strength work to endurance training without leaving your home!
Increase Your Flexibility
While strength and endurance are important components of fitness, don’t neglect your mobility work. By maintaining your flexibility, you can help prevent soreness and strains. Some athletes enjoy a dynamic stretching sessions before a hard workout. Try leg swings before a trail run or a yoga flow before your lifting session. After the workout, cool down with an extended stretch session. Concentrate on your tight muscles in the moment to help prevent future soreness!