Physical exercise

Why Do Humans Need to Warm Up Before Exercising?

Simon A. asks: Why do people need to warm up before exercise? Many animals don’t seem to have such an issue, like a cat going from completely still to sprinting after prey. So what exactly is going on internally that makes doing some activity with a warm up first less injury prone than if one just jumps into it? Or is it just a myth that we should warm up and it doesn’t actually do anything?

stretching-woman

There isn’t a respectable personal trainer in any sport that doesn’t stress the importance of warming up before you begin a workout or athletic endeavor. Most people seem to know you can prevent injuries and allow for better performance should you follow their advice. So, what about warming up allows for these benefits? What exactly is going on in the body when you more slowly prepare it for strenuous activity, rather than just jumping right into it?

The simple answer is that warming up increases blood flow to muscles, allowing for an elevated amount of oxygen and nutrients to be delivered. This prepares the muscles for a rise in workload. Warming up will also begin raising body temperature, which helps you utilize oxygen better. That boost in blood flow also serves to prime the nerves supplying your muscles with impulses, increasing the quality of performance.

Along with the blood flow and temperature benefits, an appropriate warmup also prevents injuries by providing greater range of motion, while simultaneously improving the lubrication of joints, allowing for better movement. Lastly, many trainers posit that a good warm-up before any event where performance is valued can help mentally prepare you for the task to come.

So that’s the high level view of it all. But what actually is going on internally here?

First, let’s look at what gives your body the ability to deliver more oxygen. It seems common sense that if the average heart rate is around 70 beats per minute, and each beat ejects approximately 70 ml of blood, then your heart will circulate about 4.9 liters every minute. The higher the heart rate, the more blood will be pumped. During extreme exercise, studies have shown your heart can pump up to 30 liters per minute! The question then becomes- why does slowly increasing heart rate, and by extension blood flow, vs. suddenly leaping into action and rapidly increasing blood flow allow for better performance, while reducing injury?

When your muscles are working harder than normal, they require more oxygen and nutrients. This provides all the electrolytes responsible for the electrical impulses providing for muscle contraction and glucose to start a cascade of chemical events leading to the production of a molecule called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is responsible for moving those electrolytes (and other molecules) in to, out of, and around your cells. Oxygen is also essential in creating ATP.

When oxygen is used to create ATP, it’s called aerobic metabolism. When you increase the work of your muscles past the point oxygen can make the appropriate amount of ATP, your cells begin to use glucose and acids to make more, also known as anaerobic metabolism.

The byproduct of anaerobic metabolism is the increased production of an acid called pyruvate, which also creates lactic acid. Those acids will cause all kinds of damage to your cells. The resulting pain that follows leaves every marathon runner in agony the next day. The maximum heart rate at which your cells can use oxygen to make ATP is known as your Vo2max.

What does all this chemistry have to do with warming up?

Studies have consistently…

How to Start Working Out in the Mornings

The last time you pried yourself out of bed at 6 a.m. for that morning workout felt great: you heard birds chirping; coffee tasted especially amazing; you had the energy to run laps around your family and coworkers.

Now if only you could do it more than that one time.

If you’re not a morning person, getting up for any reason—let alone working out—before 10 a.m. can feel like a terrible ordeal. If, however, mornings are the best time to fit in a workout for you, it’s worth trying to reprogram your day to get it out of the way first thing. Of course, that brings us to how.

First of all: morning is a great time to work out—it’s when your brain is freshest and primed to build new habits. “It’s that part of the day when your willpower is at its strongest and before distractions start hitting you,” said Maneesh Sethi, who has been studying behavioral psychology and habit development for over 10 years and founded Pavlok, a wearable device that’s designed to help the user stop bad habits. But in order to reap these benefits, you need enough precious beauty sleep. We’ve tackled how to get better sleep in previous articles so we won’t dive into it much here.

Assuming your sleep is on point, it’s still difficult to actually decide to abandon the comfort of your blankets to, say, go for a run. This is likely because of three reasons: you try to do too much too soon; you didn’t plan correctly; you failed to add in any positive reinforcement. Here’s how to fix that.

Start Small and Build Up

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to start a new exercise habit is that they get very ambitious. Let’s run five, no, seven days a week! And do a strength training program four times a week! And hike during the weekends! The initial enthusiasm is commendable but ultimately dooms them because they do too much, too fast, relying solely on willpower to bulldoze their way through. Sethi recommends starting so small that you absolutely cannot fail to do it.

He calls this the micro-habit model, where a fitness habit is broken down into the smallest possible steps. Just how small? Here’s Sethi talking about a small experiment he ran with 240 people in a Facebook group, who had all committed to going to the gym for the next 30 days:

For the first week, all they had to do was, after breakfast and in their gym clothes, walk out the front door. And that was it. They could go back in and sit down to do whatever they normally did. It was so easy to do it was extremely difficult to fail.

The next week they…

Beginners Guide To HIIT: How To Choose The Best Moves For Your HIIT Workout

If you want to burn calories and fat, you may benefit from a HIIT routine. HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is one of the most popular form of exercise in the fitness world right now, and it appears that it is a more effective way to burn calories than simply cardio.

However if you want to build your own HIIT routine it is important to understand the concept behind HIIT, as well as how it can benefit you personally. This is the first step to creating your HIIT routine.

The Concept Of HIIT

So what is HIIT? HIIT is a cardio training style where you will work out intensely for a short period of time before taking a break. One of the most popular methods is repeating a series of exercises for 30 seconds before taking a quick break to breathe and let your body recover. Another popular method is doing a few different exercises for a minute before taking a short break, but this is very intense!

The breaks allow you to put a high level of energy into the quick 30 second work outs, which could be why this is a more effective fat burner than normal cardio. If you want to try a HIIT routine it is important to remember that you must put all of your energy into the brief workouts, as this will raise your heart rate and burn calories.

The Length Of A HIIT Workout

Most people plan HIIT workouts that are 15 minutes or 30 minutes long. This is because it is an intense form of working out, so exercising for too long may leave you feeling weak and drained. It is also more effective to work out for a shorter period of time as…

Running Can Get You High—But Not Like You Think

Contrary to what you (or your trainer) might believe, endorphins aren’t responsibly for that giddy exuberance you feel after a long run. What is associated with the sought-after feeling is something that gets you actually high: cannabis.

Specifically, we’re talking about a chemical in the endocannabinoid family. Somewhat similar to your traditional cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) found in marijuana, endocannabinoids are made within the body.

Michael Aranda, host of the SciShow YouTube channel, describes how a “runner’s high” might come from your endocannabinoid production during a workout.

Endocannabinoids interact with the same systems in your brain as THC in marijuana does, but your body naturally makes them. They’re involved in things like soothing anxiety and reducing pain sensitivity.

The long-held notion of endorphins being responsible for…

10 Best Healthy Snacks That Even Gym People Eat When They’re Hungry!

It all starts out when you finally set out a workout plan. Your instinct tells you some protein would help, but you are clueless what to eat before the workout and there is uncertainty about what should be eaten.

Sounds familiar?

When the snack attack arrives , it is crucial to choose the sustenance wisely.

A bag of chips will quash salt hankerings, but it will not actually keep you satisfied for long. You need a more substantial snack to knock out hunger pangs and keep you going through the day. The calling is for a high protein bite.

Unlike carbs that are found in the chips, protein takes longer to digest. Amino acids that proteins are made of break down gradually . Amino acids are needed by the body to develop and repair muscles, so it is so important to stock up on the nutrient ,especially after a gym session.

Protein, the power house that is hunger-busting with slows digestion keeps blood sugar steady keep cravings aside. Protein helps with weight loss and a satisfying eating plan. You stay nutritious and workout ambitiously.

Nutrition experts and all that regularly gym will all agree that the gym session not really the most difficult part. It is controlling diet that is really mind boggling.

So you…

8 Promising Benefits of HIIT Workout That Will Make You Want To Start Right Now!

We all know the great importance of exercise, and sure, each of us, in our own way try to do as much as we can. Yet, this can be incredibly difficult. If you work full time, or are generally very busy, getting the gym hours in that we feel is necessary can feel like an impossible task.

Even if you want to go for a run, you might think that you would need to run for at least an hour to make any real change. We might feel resigned to our current state or shape, one seemingly enforced by our schedule.

This might well be the case, however thanks to the exercise system HIIT (high intensity interval training) you can get a fantastic workout in very little time.

HIIT isn’t just useful for those short of time, HIIT workouts are one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise that you can do, something supported by significant research.2

In addition there are a great, and surprising range of other benefits which show that high intensity interval training is the way to go for those on the clock.

8 Amazing Benefits of HIIT- From Head to Toe, from Physical to Mental!

One of the most popular reasons people choose HIIT is that, through the training, you burn fat even when your training has stopped.

This is due to Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), after a HIIT workout your oxygen consumption is increased in such a way that you burn fat 9x faster. In addition, thanks to the way HIIT workouts boost your metabolism, you can burn up to 50% more fat than a regular steady-state cardio workout, even though steady-state workouts are maintained for much longer periods of time.3

Build More Muscle and Maintain Muscle Mass Better!

At the same time HIIT workouts stimulate the burning and using up of fat and calories, HIIT workouts also produce muscle building anabolic hormones. As such it can be a very effective way of developing lean muscle.

Surprisingly, HIIT workouts are actually better at building and maintaining muscle…

Steady State vs Interval Training: Are You Exercising Towards Your Goal?

No matter if you are a professional athlete, fitness enthusiast or just an occasional gym goer, you couldn’t have been spared the dilemma between the two most popular and effective types of training – steady state training and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training).

With a great number of available fitness advice that provide information favoring one or the other type of training, it seems like we are none the wiser when it comes to choosing between SST and HIIT.

While steady state training involves steady, longer lasting cardio exercises that burn a lot of calories, fast intervals of high intensity workouts followed by quick resting provide faster results when it comes to burning calories, fat and improving overall aerobic capacity.

Steady state training is something you have probably been doing most of your life. Whether you are jogging, swimming, dancing, running on a treadmill, or cycling, steady state involves performing any type of cardio activity at a challenging, but steady pace, for over 20 minutes, using up to 70% of your capacity.

HIIT training involves short and powerful intervals of intense activity, followed by a quick rest, with sessions lasting no longer than 20 minutes. With HIIT training you are ideally performing at 90-100 of you maximum capacity. HIIT training can be performed indoors, on a treadmill, using weights, or outdoors by running or cycling.

Rather than trying to convince you to opt for one or the other type of workout, this article is aimed at providing analysis of both types in order to give you as much information so that you can chose what fits your specific needs best. As each person has different adaptability to each type of exercise, and not everyone has the same fitness goals, the explanation of the two types of training will, hopefully help everyone decide for themselves.

HIIT can be done in 20 minutes or less while SST takes a longer time!

SST and HIIT require different time to perform. According to Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, while steady state training requires more…

Sleep Easy After Evening Exercise By Adjusting Your Meal Schedule

Look, not all of us can fit in a 5 am workout or a lunch break bodyweight flow. That leaves a lot of us exercising in the evenings, but a too-late workout can leave you too energized to sleep. Hold up, say experts—it’s not exercising in the evenings that keeps you awake. It’s eating.

Sleep specialist Charles Czeisler tells the Washington Post that you can mess with your circadian rhythms—your body’s sense of what time it is—by eating after sundown. So if you finished your run or your pickup hoops game in the dark, it’s your post-workout meal, not…

Hilton’s bringing the gym to your hotel room

Hotels can be a lonely place for business travelers at the best of times, but forays into the bar or fitness center serve as potential conduits to meeting fellow human beings. Hilton, however, has just announced a new initiative that gives guests one less reason to venture outside their temporary dwellings.

In what Hilton is calling “five feet to fitness,” the hotelier is bringing the gym directly to guests’ rooms with more than “eleven different fitness equipment and accessory options,” according to a statement issued by the company.

Some rooms will now have a Wattbike exercise bike and a training station with a range of apparatus and accessories.

Above: Hilton: In-room gym

At the center of the in-room gym setup is a touchscreen “fitness kiosk” that delivers tutorials and workout routines, with hundreds of fitness videos across cardio, endurance, strength, yoga, stretching, and more.

Above: Hilton: Yoga

The rooms also feature a meditation chair, blackout shades, Biofreeze pain relieving gel, and a range of…

How to Eat and Exercise to Prevent Muscle Cramp?

Muscle cramps are one of the hardest cramps to deal with. We need our legs to carry us throughout our entire day and a muscle cramp can take us off our feet and interrupt our usual flow. So here are my recommendations on how to stop muscle cramps immediately and build stronger legs and butt so that you can stop future muscle cramps from occurring.

1. The Immediate Cure

When we are experiencing a muscle cramp it’s often due to: dehydration, overuse of the muscle, and lack of using the muscle. The quickest way to cure your muscle cramps is to immediately massage the area and stretch those muscles. Once you are able to move your leg once again, head to the medicine cabinet and take an appropriate dose of anti-inflammatory medicine, such as Ibuprofen.

2. Diet Helps

The next best step is to look at your diet! The top two contributors to leg cramps are dehydration and a lack of potassium. You should definitely increase your water intake. Especially if you drink a lot of coffee and sugary sodas, both of those dehydrate you quickly! If you struggle with opting for water to drink, take it slowly and increase it each week.

Begin by drinking your favorite coffees and sodas at meal times only. You must drink water in between meals and even create a reward system of “If I drink 3 glasses of water between breakfast and lunch, I can have that latte with my lunch!”.

After each week, find ways to increase your water intake and swap out those caffeinated and sugary drinks more often until you find yourself predominantly drinking water. Water intake is important and changing our habits takes time and diligence!

Potassium is something we often lack and bananas are a fruit packed with potassium. However, if you are like me and do not like bananas, there are other options for getting plenty of potassium. Those foods are:

  • dark leafy greens

By increasing your potassium intake, you decrease your chances of leg cramps!

Try to work on your leg muscle to prevent cramps in long-term?

We can’t talk about building stronger legs and…