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Old 01-09-08, 09:21 AM   #1
Phantoj
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What is the purpose of warm-up and cool-down?

Why warm-up and cool-down? What will happen to me if I don't do it?

What is physically occurring in my body during warm-up and cool-down?

I have a very limited amount of workout time, as do many people. It would seem to make sense to optimize the duration and method of warming-up and cooling down to leave as much time as possible for the regular workout without incurring bad effects. Any suggestions on methods for warming-up and cooling-down as quickly as possible?

thanks!
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Old 01-09-08, 10:38 AM   #2
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All I know is that it opens me up for good hard riding later on. If I warm up, later hard efforts seem easier. If I go 100% from the time I click in, I feel like crap for the rest of the ride.

When I'm strapped for time, I do something similar to what the various training DVDs like Spinervals or CTS do. Start off with 5-10 minutes of easy riding. Do 1x2 at a lactate threshold and high cadence with 2-3 minutes of rest in between. Recover for 3-5 minutes and go at it.
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Old 01-09-08, 12:23 PM   #3
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Why warm-up and cool-down? What will happen to me if I don't do it?
You will hurt yourself. Maybe not immediately, but, you will most likely hurt yourself. Most likely soft-tissue damage. Gets your body ready for exercise.

A warm-up will help get the blood flowing (increase heart rate and hence increases oxygen flow to your muscles), stretch the muscles, all sorts of stuff (I don't know the exact things that happen). Cool down will help flush toxins from the body.
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Old 01-09-08, 02:26 PM   #4
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Well, according to my Fitness Theory text (which I don't have in front of me right now) ... if you exercise hard and then just stop, your blood pressure drops suddenly and your blood pools in your extremities (there's a name for that phenomenon, which is in the text), and you could faint or even die (if you've got some sort of heart difficulty).


http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/SM00067
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Old 01-09-08, 07:17 PM   #5
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Well, according to my Fitness Theory text (which I don't have in front of me right now) ... if you exercise hard and then just stop, your blood pressure drops suddenly and your blood pools in your extremities (there's a name for that phenomenon, which is in the text), and you could faint or even die (if you've got some sort of heart difficulty).


http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/SM00067
Yeah, post-somethinorother hypotension. I'll almost pass out after squats sometimes, but never after riding. Our group often has a finishing sprint, then we pull into the parking lot and just stop. Occasionally, I'll do one lap around the parking lot. As far as I can tell, it doesn't make the slightest difference to my recovery if we do the sprint or just finish the ride easy.

Warm up is a completely different story. I like to take at least 10 minutes to let my heart rate even into the upper end of zone 2, say 80% of max. That makes a huge difference. I noticed that for the first time when I was 10 years old. It's still true.
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Old 01-09-08, 07:26 PM   #6
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Sports or Industry, any heavy exercise. The winery I've been working at started a warm-up program for all staff doing any physical work like dragging 3" hoses or lifting empty 60 gallon wine barrels. We use the muscles of one group to stretch the tendons of the opposing group like using the left arm to stress and stretch the wrist elbow and shoulder tendons of the right arm. We had a drop in job related injuries. Younger people doing easy rides might get away without warm-up. The older you get and the harder you go from the start the more likely you will get hurt.
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Old 01-09-08, 09:54 PM   #7
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Younger people doing easy rides might get away without warm-up.
I should have said: what I noticed when I was 10 was that if I took the first two miles easier than seemed necessary, or even a good idea, I could ride 20 miles. If I went right out at my 20-mile pace, I was exhausted after riding 15 miles.

Thinking some more about the OP's questions: One of the things that happens during warmup is that your blood vessels get larger or possibly just more elastic. So your muscles can get that much needed blood and operate more efficiently. I'm not a physiologist (IANAP) but I think that the chemical reactions that produce muscular contractions also change or become more efficient during warmup.

My favorite quick warmups are spinning fast at a light load and getting out of the saddle a few times. I'll often do that at the start of a group ride where I can tell that people are going to start faster than I'd like to.

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Old 01-09-08, 10:17 PM   #8
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I also read, the blood thins out during exercise so it can flow faster to keep up with the increased heart rate. All in all, with all the things that come into play during warm up, not warming up seems a bad idea for the body.

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Old 01-10-08, 07:45 AM   #9
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Warm ups increase the blood flow, increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, stretches muscles and tendons, gets the body ready for exercise more gradually rather than a sudden shock, and more.
At least that is what I have read. My own experiences mirror these texts.

As for cool downs, I do this more for the fact that I tend to overheat when I stop riding no matter the season. Plus, for commuting it helps to keep you from sweating buckets when you show up at work. In winter I tend to use a mixed mode commute with a bus or light rail taking half the distance. If I do not cool down and immediately jump on the train or bus I will overheat in no time flat. Then my stomach looses it.
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Old 01-11-08, 01:21 PM   #10
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I warm up with light stretches and moderate work on the bike, cool down with final five min. of moderate effort on bike, too. I stretch before and after riding -- when I'm smart. +100 to Ken, who said the older you get, the more important it is. Yeah, when I only have an hour, it's annoying to take 15 min. of it for warm up/down, but I don't even think about it anymore. It's just part of the workout.

As to why, the smartaleck response is -- Stop warming up/down, and you'll eventually find out why you should. ;-) More seriously, it's to avoid injury and to be more gentle with the body before we pound it. Hopefully, we'll all be riding for decades to come; this helps make sure you'll be able.

I stretch for a long time before and after rides. I would LOVE to be able to skip this. When I do, I often get injured. It may not hurt you right away, but generally, you'll pay if you don't do your necessaries.
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Old 01-11-08, 05:04 PM   #11
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Well, according to my Fitness Theory text (which I don't have in front of me right now) ... if you exercise hard and then just stop, your blood pressure drops suddenly and your blood pools in your extremities (there's a name for that phenomenon, which is in the text), and you could faint or even die (if you've got some sort of heart difficulty).


http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/SM00067
OK, here's what my text says:

"Blood returns to the heart by way of the veins. The blood is pushed along by heart contractions and the veins' "milking action" is assisted by muscle contractions during exercise. Muscles contract, or squeeze, and move the blood forward against gravity while the valves prevent the blood from backing up. For example: when you stop exercising suddenly, this milking action will stop, and blood return to the heart and brain will drop quickly and may cause blood pooling in the legs leading to shock, or an unfavorable cardiac condition.

When blood pooling occurs, the blood pressure drops precipitously. The body compensates for this unexpected drop in pressure by secreting as much as 100 times the normal amount of norepinephrine. This high level of norepinephrine can ause cardiac problems for some individuals during the recovery phase of vigorous exercise such as in marathon or triathlon.

Illness, dizziness, nausea, and sudden death following vigorous exercise, particularly when a cool down does not occur, is referred to as Postexercise Peril."


And you can look up articles on Postexercise Peril on google.

Here's a site with several:
http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/251/5/630

So it is very important for people like me (with heart problems) to slow down when I'm coming in from a long ride and pedal lightly the last little way.
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Old 01-11-08, 07:17 PM   #12
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So it is very important for people like me (with heart problems) to slow down when I'm coming in from a long ride and pedal lightly the last little way.
I'm not saying you or the text is wrong, by any means. But I sometimes feel like passing out at the gym when I do a hard set. So maybe we should move quickly away from the squat rack and start skipping rope or doing jumping jacks? I don't know. I just hang on to the equipment until the feeling passes. But if that's so, that all that norepinephrine is being secreted after every set, that's got to add up! So something else must be going on as well, or perhaps the norepinephrine is very quickly resorbed? Someday RN? I never have that feeling after cycling, perhaps because it's a hundred yards from the end of the sprint to my car, and that's adequate?

Norepinephrine triggers the baroreceptor reflex. From Wikipedia:
"In cardiovascular physiology, the baroreflex or baroreceptor reflex is one of the body's homeostatic mechanisms for maintaining blood pressure. It provides a negative feedback loop in which an elevated blood pressure reflexively causes blood pressure to decrease; similarly, decreased blood pressure depresses the baroreflex, causing blood pressure to rise."

All very interesting. Thanks, Machka.
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Old 01-11-08, 09:24 PM   #13
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But I sometimes feel like passing out at the gym when I do a hard set.
I'm not a fan of the 'grunters' at the gym, but at least they have the breathing part down. I sometimes forget to exhale during hard efforts and the same thing happens.
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Old 01-11-08, 09:34 PM   #14
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I'm not a fan of the 'grunters' at the gym, but at least they have the breathing part down. I sometimes forget to exhale during hard efforts and the same thing happens.
This is after sets of 30 or so. I breathe once a rep. From post-exercise hypotension, like Machka said. My normal blood pressure is so low as to elicit odd looks from nurses in exam rooms. Same with HR.
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Old 01-11-08, 11:21 PM   #15
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But if that's so, that all that norepinephrine is being secreted after every set, that's got to add up! So something else must be going on as well, or perhaps the norepinephrine is very quickly resorbed? Someday RN? I never have that feeling after cycling, perhaps because it's a hundred yards from the end of the sprint to my car, and that's adequate?
The catecholamines that are released are quickly broken down by monoamine oxidase and catechol-O-methyl transferase and thus has a very short half life after release from the adrenal medulla. The enzymes are located in the liver and thus catecholamines taken orally would be useless because of this. Eventually the products of catecholamine break down are filtered out by your kidneys and excreted. Since (nor)epinepherine is not polar it can't cross the blood brain barrier, but it is also a neurotransmitter in the brain, that the presynaptic knob can reuptake or it can be broken down by enzymes.

I think what Machka said was correct. Your heart is pumping very fast to fill the larger volume of your arteries that was created by by the effect of the catecholamines to increase arterial volume. As well the beta receptors of your heart respond to the catecholamines. The SA node responds by firing quicker and the contractile cells are also affected. As well the heart will also adjust its rate on venous return. So the more the atria stretch the faster the heart will beat.

So when you finish your set you stop, or slow down the muscle pump that returns the blood to the heart. So now the heart has lost one of the signals to pump faster, but the effect of the catecholamines may last for a few minutes after their release because they have to circulate through the liver to be broken down. This means that there is still a larger volume created in the arterial system that the heart is not filling as well as it once did.

Of course your response to this is to sit down or bow your head. You will probably start breathing faster and deeper as well after your set, so now the chemoreceptors will detect a rise in oxygen in the blood and the natural response is to narrow the arteries. If you wish to experience syncope hold your breathe after the set and the chemoreceptors will detect a rise in CO2 further increasing the volume of the arterial system making it harder for the blood starved cavities of the heart to supply your arterial system.

There are many interesting ways that you can play around with your bodies processes. Try the Valsalva maneuver, if you are not at risk of stroke, then you can really spike the BP. When you stop the set then light headedness will have new meaning.

Keep in mind this is a very simplistic view of what is happening in your body and is by no means the only processes that are happening that make you feel light headed, but this is all I can remember right now because it was a few years ago that I learned this in anatomy 101.
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Old 01-12-08, 09:49 AM   #16
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You guys are quite right about the blood pressure aspects of warm up and cool down -- I wasn't focusing on those in my post, but I feel them too, sometimes. I guess more so at 43 than I did at 23!
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Old 01-12-08, 01:29 PM   #17
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So when you finish your set you stop, or slow down the muscle pump that returns the blood to the heart. So now the heart has lost one of the signals to pump faster, but the effect of the catecholamines may last for a few minutes after their release because they have to circulate through the liver to be broken down. This means that there is still a larger volume created in the arterial system that the heart is not filling as well as it once did.
That's pretty good for Anatomy 101! I guess a heckuva memory is a requirement for med studies.

So the catecholamines are still there, doing their job, when I start the next set. As the next set starts, everything goes more or less back to exercise-normal. Got the big arteries, got the HR up, got the catecholamines, everything is fine again.

So back to the OP's question: I guess that on the bike if you keep spinning easy until the catecholamines have been neutralized, your leg muscles will assist in the pumping action. After a heavy gym set, there's not much one can do except put one's head between one's knees. If I go by what happens at the gym, I'd say about 2 minutes of cool-down will mitigate against postexercise peril.

But how about the effects of a prolonged cool-down on recovery? Any studies to support this? I don't notice anything, but it's hard to control for the variables.

It's hard to separate out the real stuff from the Old Coach's Tales. I remember so clearly how we were told that if we drank water during a game, it would give us stomach cramps. There's a lot of that still around.
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Old 01-12-08, 01:46 PM   #18
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Here's another thought on this issue that I just ran across:

"In ‘The Science of Martial Arts Training’, Charles I. Staley, MSS, provides us a somewhat different benefit: “Intermittent exercise … accumulates a greater volume of stress on the blood pumping capacity of the heart. According to exercise physiologist Dr. Steven Seilor, the periodic elevations and decreases in intensity may create special loading stresses on the heart that are adaptive. Seilor suggests that during an interval, heart rate climbs high, then at the moment the interval stops, heart rate immediately starts to drop, but venous return remains high. These exposures to additional ventricular stretch may help trigger ventricular remodeling (increased heart ventricle volume).”
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