Warm-up & Cool-down Examples

Last week we went over the importance of the warm-up and cool-down. This week we are getting practical.

So what does a warm-up and cool-down look like?

Just like any other answer, it depends.

It depends on what your workout consists of. First off, a warm-up usually consists of similar movements to that of the workout. This way your muscles have a sneak peek to what is coming but it isn’t strenuous. It’s to get your heart rate up and core temperature elevated as well as lubricating your joints so you can do work.

My typical workout is an all over body strength based one with cardio built in. So with that I like to get all my muscles moving and grooving in the beginning. Now these moves aren’t too exciting, just basic stuff. I leave the more exciting movements for the actual workout. I stick with getting my arms moving up and down and around. Then get my legs involved by kicking and hiking up my knees or kicking my butt.

See I told you it was nothing exciting but it works… My body gets the message that it’s about to start working harder and that’s the point!

Now some warm-ups that I view to be more exciting are combat moves. So adding some punches and hooks. That really gets my blood pumping but still I take it at a moderate pace. If I’m feeling really sore then I might add in some stretches to the start or use the foam roller to give my muscles the added attention they need. Now with stretching and foam rolling at the beginning you need to be careful not to go overboard because your muscles might be cold and not as limber so don’t over do it. Just enough to make it manageable to start moving more and then you are off to the races with the workout. I still like to ease into my workout until I feel good and warm but that doesn’t take too long when I do the warm-up.

Warm-up Example:

  •  Move arms up, down and around
    • Reach ups
    • Reach across
    • Arm/Shoulder circles forward and back
    • Any sort of punches (jab, hook, upper cut, etc.)
  • Move legs forward, sideways and backwards
    • High Knees
    • Butt Kicks
    • Front, side and back kicks
  • Do a Bodyweight version of exercises in the workout
    • Walking or slow Jumping Jacks
    • Side to Side Lunges
    • Bodyweight Squats
    • Jog in Place

Moving on to the Cool-down

Afterwards I like to keep moving side to side or marching to help my body transition. Then I start stretching each muscle group even while moving side to side until I feel my muscles relaxing. I work from either the top – down or bottom – up. That way I don’t miss a major group. And if I work a specific body part extra hard I take a little bit of extra time stretching that.

So let’s say I want to do my normal stretching. I’ll start with my upper body and stretch out my shoulders and triceps, chest and biceps and back, then sometimes my neck and wrists. Then I’ll move down to the lower body and stretch my hamstrings and inner thighs and quads, then my calves and hip flexors and occasionally my outer hip/thighs and ankles. My next inclination is to stretch the sides of my body and take a few deep breaths reaching up to the sky and back down to end the cool down. This has just been my routine and makes the workout feel complete.

Cool-down Stretches:

  • Upper Body
    • Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch
    • Overhead Tricep Stretch
    • Wide Arm Chest Stretch 
      • thumbs pointed up, then down for biceps
    • Forward Clasped Hands/Rounded Back Stretch
    • Gentle Neck and Wrist Circles
  • Lower Body
    • Standing Forward Fold & Wide Leg Forward Fold Stretch  
    • Side Lunge Stretch 
    • Standing Quad Stretch
    • Warrior 1 Yoga Pose or High Lunge Calf and Hip Flexor Stretch
      • back heel is planted for calf and back hip pushing forward for hip flexor
      • added side stretch bonus if you reach up and over with same arm as back leg
    • Tricky Outer Hip/Thigh Stretch 
      • cross opposite foot over leg to be stretched and reach up and over to feel the stretch in your outer thigh
    • Gentle Ankle Circles
  • Feel-Good Finale
    • Side Stretch 
      • reach up and over for each side
    • Inhale & Exhale
      •  circling arms overhead on the inhale and circling arms down on the exhale (repeat twice or more)

To be honest, I forget to do some of these stretches at each of my cool-downs. So there is always room for improvement. And writing out this list is probably going to prompt me to be more thorough in my own cool-down practice than I had intended. So thanks for joining me on my stronger journey as well. You all hold me accountable and I appreciate you!

So does any of this speak to you? Do you have a favorite warm-up or cool-down move? Leave them below!

Tune in next week for another great element to your workout: Upper Body Strength