The Power behind executing your warm up and cool down
The non-negotiable and often dreaded warm up and cool down.
I will admit, I used to think that the purpose of a warm up was simply to elevate our bodies temperature before training. That’s what I was taught. “One degree higher” they said.
The cool down was the opposite. It was designed to cool down the body and slow down your heart rate after an intense training session.
But there is so much behind the curtain.
What I have learned through the work of Scott Sonnon is that there is so much more power behind an intentional warm up and cool down, than we realize.
When performed with the purpose to mobilize, activate, and prepare it transforms our mental and physical performance.
We often don’t recognize these portions of our training. In fact, most go through the motions or skip it all together to get to the “fun stuff”.
In order to perform efficiently, we must prepare and recover effectively. That is precisely what the warm up and cool down do.
Picture an airlock room of a space station. This is the room with two entrances that allows an astronaut to go into space without letting air out.
I like to teach clients to think of their warm up and cool down as an airlock.
In this case, it’s a hypothetical space we enter before and after training to remove all distractions and sediments collected either from life or training. This gives us the ability to enter and exit training with a fresh mind and body.
Our warm up prepares us to train. It teaches us to leave our day-to-day distractions at the door and completely immerse ourselves in our practice.
Here’s a few ways I like to teach clients to use a warm up.
The mental and physical check in:
Before starting a training session we must first mentally and physically check in with ourselves.
How am I doing today?
Do I feel any restrictions or discomfort ?
How’s my energy ?
How’s my focus ?
Your warm up is the time to reconnect with yourself and the breath. If for nothing else, your warm up should give you the opportunity to transition from day-to-day activities and into training smoothly.
Routine self assessment and prehab:
As you go through your mobility and movement drills in your warm up you should be assessing for fluidity, connection, tissue restrictions, joint congestion, etc.
This is the opportunity to search and address any issues that may need to be taken care of before continuing.
Instead of going through the motions, spend this time to actively restore the bodies function and optimize performance.
Activate to Dominate:
It’s more than just increasing body temperature.
Your warm up should invigorate and supercharge.
The mobility and movement drills done in the beginning of your training need to free the body and help reconnect the neuromuscular system.
Our day to day activities shape us, positively and negatively. Through purposeful mobility and movement, we regain control and increase the likelihood for positive adaptations.
Performing mobility drills unwind our bodies for unrestricted movement; While movement drills activate our bodies to perform skills with purpose, grace, and precision.
Our cool down kick starts post training recovery. It washes off any sediments of training from our body and mind while helping us transition back to life.
Here’s a few ways I like to teach clients to use a cool down.
Reflect and Decompress:
Within your cool down is the best time to reflect upon your training. Because the session is still fresh , you have access to review your highlight reel and better understand how to improve. Whether it’s mentally or physically, your cool down is a powerful tool to maximize learning and development post-training.
In the same token, the warm up invigorates while the cool down calms the mind. The cadence of a cool down routine decompresses and settles your mind to be more present in activities post-training.
Cleanse and Recover:
As life, training also shapes us. The mobility and movement drills at the end of your training help to counter act stress accumulation and negative adaptations gathered in training.
Think of it as a bath after a hard days work.
Mobilizing our tissues and joints activates the circulatory system to feed and nourish, the lymphatic system to collect and remove waste, and rebalances the neuromuscular and myofascial systems.
At the end , your body is refreshed and restored for optimal recovery.
Together our warm up and cool down improve preparation , skill development, growth , and overall recovery.