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The Fit 5: Warming Up and Cooling Down

Our fitness expert answers your questions about warming up and cooling down properly.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Facebook page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen.

This week, Sean Hyson C.S.C.S., Group Training Director for Muscle & Fitness and Men's Fitness magazines, answers questions about about warming up and cooling down properly.

Be sure to read up on all of Sean’s articles here on MensFitness.com or in Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness magazines each month.

You can also catch Sean on Twitter

1) Post-Cardio Stretching — asked by Elbert Miller

I've heard the best time to do your stretching is after your cardio. Is that correct?

“Any time you’re warm is a good time to stretch, so after cardio or lifting is fine. You never want to stretch first thing when you get in the gym and you aren’t warmed up from some activity. That will lead to injury.”

2) Intermittent Stretching — asked by Isaq Mohammed

Is 10 minutes of running followed by 10 minutes of streching and warm-up exercises enough for a sprinter? Also, how long does it take your body to cool down when you've finished working out?

"A sprinter should warm up the way any other athlete should. Some foam rolling and then dynamic movements like leg swings and hip circles, some basic calisthenics, and then some practice runs before the sprinting. This can all be done inside 10 minutes. As far as cooling down, your core temperature will be down significantly after you stop sweating. Two or three minutes."

3) Dynamic Stretch or Dynamic Movement — asked by Jared Fuhol

Is dynamic stretching the best warm-up for weight lifters?

"Not exactly. Dynamic movement is a good start as it warms the joints and muscles and increases mobility, but you’ll still need to work up in weight slowly with your lifts before you can do an all-out set."

4) Cool Down Advantages — asked by Jason Ross

What are the advantages of cooling down? When I finish my last set I feel like I should be done.

"With lifting, there is no real cool-down required. Because you rest between sets, unlike with aerobic exercise, you don’t experience a very quick drop in your heart rate. It isn’t dangerous to just finish your last set and then walk out of the gym. After intense interval training, however, such as treadmill sprints mixed with jogging, or long-lasting aerobic work, it’s good to let your heart slow down gradually. You can walk at an easy pace for five minutes."

5) Descent Warm-Ups — asked by Mehdi Toougaani

What's the best example of a descent warm-up ?

“Use a foam roller or tennis ball all over your body, especially in areas that are tight or sore. Then do some dynamic mobility work, like leg swings, hip circles, trunk twists (there are many exercises—the point is to do movements that mimic the way the body moves during the exercises in your workout). You can throw some light calisthenics like jumping jacks or mountain climbers in, too. If you’re weight training, begin then to work up gradually in weight with low-rep sets (five or fewer) until you’re ready to begin your first work set."

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