OK ... reform might be a bit of an embellishment. In all honesty, there really isn't anything new at all to announce or reform! Except more of the same: good old fashioned safe, effective, consistent exercise and lifestyle habits to look, feel, and move better! The American public will always seek and experiment with short cuts to exercise. We're simply wired that way. And many fitness "professionals" will mislead you with false promises and ridiculous expectations that can be nothing short of dangerous.
The Benefits of a Proper Warm-up and Cool down
We take warm-up and cool down quite seriously here at Fitness Together! There are many reasons for this, but the most important is that the quality of your warm-up frequently determines the quality of your session!
When sedentary or mostly inactive, blood flow to the stomach is largely unrestricted to assist with digestion. As you begin to begin to exercise, however, torso arteries actually contract to shunt blood flow away from the stomach. This increases blood pressure and flushes the limbs (arms & legs) with nutrient-rich blood.
Unfortunately, the whole process takes up to 15 minutes to complete and there are no short cuts - which is why we tend to be so adamant about arriving early enough for your session to complete a proper warm-up. Skip the whole process, or cut it short and we need to spend part of your personal training session completing warm-up process to avoid possible cramping, or injury to 'cold' muscle groups. To get the most out of your session, plan for starting your warm up no later than 10 minutes before your session appointment!
Once finished with your session, it's time to reverse the entire process! As you exercise, various energy sources are tapped to produce the energy required to shorten (contract) muscle fibers. Conversion of these energy sources produces lactic acid and lactate - both of which are responsible for that muscle 'burn' you feel when your trainer demands those last two reps to completely fatigue a muscle group. :-)
While your energy, circulatory, and cleansing systems will eventually rid the body of this lactate accumulation, a proper cool down accelerates the waste elimination process. Additionally, time to recovery (rebuilt muscle fiber and replenished energy sources) and muscle soreness are significantly reduced with a low intensity cardiovascular event immediately following your strength training session. Call it a cool down, a warm down, or a short cardio event, but it's at least as important as your workout itself! Exercise is performed ENTIRELY to force the body to adapt, to grow, to improve fitness levels. Your warm down is the 1st step in this adaptation process, so don't short change your workout by recovering poorly! And, it burns a few more calories!
Stretching has a similar benefit, but we've already taken care of that within your session. A proper cool down also assists with the gradual relaxation of constricted stomach arteries to prepare for your second most important meal of the day ... your post session recovery meal. More on that next week.