Kelsey Heenan's Tips for an Effective Warm-up and Cooldown
If you have limited time for your workout, you may figure it’s more effective to skip the warm-up and cooldown and focus on the muscle-building, calorie-torching meat of the workout.
But it’s important to carve out a few minutes to help your body prepare for — and recover from — a tough workout. We asked 4 Weeks of Focus trainer Kelsey Heenan to share her best warm-up and cooldown tips to help you start and finish strong.
How to Do an Effective Warm-Up
“Warming up is really important to get both your body and mind prepared for your workout,” Heenan says. “It will help you get in a more effective workout, because it will help with movement quality and avoiding injury.”
Here are her top tips for warming up before your workout:
1. Massage your muscles
“My typical warm-up begins with some soft tissue work, like foam rolling,” Heenan says. “It helps me feel better and allows me to mentally prepare for my workout.”
Next up: Ease into some dynamic stretching exercises. Some of her favorite stretches include adductor rocks, floor slides (similar to Wall Angels, but performed while lying down), and the World’s Greatest Stretch. If you need more stretching inspiration, try this 10-minute warm-up routine that mixes dynamic stretches and calisthenics.
3. Get your heart rate up
“Throughout the warm-up, you should start noticing that your body temperature and heart rate are on the rise,” Heenan says. She typically rounds out her warm-up with gentle cardio exercises like skips, shuffles, and jumping moves to get her body and mind geared up for an intense workout.
How to Make the Most of Your Cooldown
The cooldown is also a critical element of a good workout. “Taking time to cool down after a workout gives your body some time to recover and get back to its regular temperature and heart rate,” Heenan adds. “Like brushing and flossing your teeth, it just takes care of your body.”
Here are her tips for an effective cooldown:
1. Focus on breathing
“Instead of counting time or reps for cooldown exercises, I like to count breaths,” Heenan says. “Focusing on breathing helps to bring the heart rate down back to regular levels, and it’s also very calming.”
2. Tailor your cooldown
Heenan recommends choosing cooldown exercises that complement the workout you just did. “Cooldowns can be a total-body experience, with a special emphasis on stretching out areas that were worked during the workout,” she says.
Muscles are more pliable when they’re warm, so the end of a workout is an ideal time to stretch. Heenan’s favorite cooldown stretches include Thread the Needle (a variation on Child’s Pose) and upper body stretches like the Open Book and Arm Sweep.
4. Add in some post-post-workout mobility work
Even after your official cooldown is done, make mobility work a part of your daily routine. One of Heenan’s favorite ways to do this: Squeeze in a few mobility exercises or foam rolling exercises while you’re watching a show or a game at night.
“I use it as a way to wind down for the day and get in some ‘movement hygiene,'” Heenan says.
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