Why stretching and warming up are not the same

July 25, 2017

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The difference between warming up and stretching 

Do you warmup or stretch before starting your workout?  When we first start working out it’s easy to make this mistake: we stretch before the workout, and why we do it? Because we see everyone doing it! At the gym or at the park before running we see people stretching their legs, rotating their knees and ankles in circular motions; because we see them exercising we think it’s ok what they do and we imitate them.

In reality those little things they do are not good for your articulations or your muscles and they will cause you to injure easily. Why? Because all your body its cold and you are stretching your tendons and muscles instead of warming them up.

If this is confusing to you, don’t worry because I’m going to start from the basics. On today’s post I’m going to explain you the difference of warming up and stretching and when to do each one.

Let’s start with warmup; in simple word warmup, it’s the act of preparation of your body for an exercise routine.  This means doing a series of exercises that will help your muscles get ready for a workout because it will increase the temperature of your body.  How do you prepare your body? There are several exercises you can do the most common one is doing cardio like:

Jogging, jumping the rope, jumping jacks, knee up jump … in my previous post I posted a video with a couple of low impact exercises that will also help you warm up.  

It is recommended to do 10 to 15 minutes of warmup before starting your workout.

Now let’s talk about Stretching:  is the act of extend a part of the body to its full length in this case what we are going to extend are the muscles. This will prevent injuries like cramps and  muscle contractions.  

How do you stretch: you can stretch when you try to reach your foot with your hand without bending your knees, or touching the floor with your hands without touching your knees, while doing a split. You must feel how your muscles stretch and it should be painless.

It is recommended to always stretch after a workout for 5 to 10 minutes, the purpose of this is to avoid injuries and to get more flexibility.

Why it is important? All this is meant to help your body prepare for the workout routine and help recover from that workout. If you do them in the wrong order you will be prone to injuries you can injure your muscles, your tendons and articulations.  

Stretching before a work out it’s like trying to stretch an elastic band after you put it in the fridge, what would happen is that the elastic band breaks, the same thing can happen to your muscles and tendons. Also doing them wrong or at the wrong intensity can also cause injures especially when you are stretching. 

Some people force themselves when they stretch; you need to start on a low intensity ad work your way up: if you can’t reach the floor with your hand without bending your knees don’t force it too much just enough for you to feel how your muscles are stretching but it should be painless, and if you do it every single day one day you will reach the floor.

Same thing with the warmup, the warmup is meant to prepare your body for the workout, don’t exhaust your self-warming up, it should be in a low intensity and not that many reps, otherwise you will be so tired from the warmup and won’t be able to do your workout routine.

Do I have to do this every time I work out? Yes. Why? Helps prevent common sports injuries, sometimes as we get more experience working out we forget to warm up ang do only the routine and don’t stretch at the end because we forget or we are bored of doing it every single time, and later on we injure ourselves and we wonder why? If I have been doing the exact same thing for over 3 months.  

As an instructor, I see this happens a lot, and is always because people don’t warm up and don’t stretch, usually they hurt themselves doing the routine specially if they are lifting weights and they get cramps and muscles contractions more often specially on the legs.

Don’t forget to take 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after your work out to warmup and stretch your body, you will see a difference on how you perform doing your workout, your flexibility will increase, won’t be sore the day after, won’t have any more cramps and you will feel even better.

I really hope this little explanation can help anyone who’s start working out or have any questions on how to properly work out and if you want an specific post on routines for warming up or stretching please leave it in the comments down below. 


  1. This is such great information thank you for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing! So many times people asked me whats the difference and why? Nice written with a great explaining!

  3. I'll never forget that one time I did a full body workout without stretching & warmup. I woke up SO sore the day after and everything hurt! Anyways, this is so useful, thanks for sharing! <3

  4. Thank You for clarifying this confusing matter for me. Now I am sure I am training well and chances of me doing something bad to my body is minimum. :)




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