We are living in the wellness generation. We have never been more aware of the benefits of moving our body with regularity. Physical health is defined by exercise, proper nutrition, and a decent sleep schedule. With physical movement becoming an everyday task for many, it’s essential to define the many terms that are used by this widening community. Stretching and warming up are usually used to reference the same thing – but the two are fundamentally different. Not only do they serve different purposes – they have far different goals and executions. In this article, we’ll define the difference between the two and give you a brief introduction to both.  


Stretching is the practice of stretching your muscles and joints, and it’s usually done before a workout, but some people prefer to do it both before and after. Stretching is highly beneficial for numerous reasons, the most important of which is preventing injuries.  

A. Goals

The primary goals of stretching are:
  • Elongating and loosening muscle fibres
  • Aiding flexibility in muscles and joints
  • Decreasing dormant onset muscle soreness
  • Preventing possible injury such as muscle torsion
  • Improving body posture during workouts
  • Improved blood flow and circulation

B. When Should You Do It?

The science is a bit murky on when you should stretch your muscles. While stretching warmed up muscles is generally considered safer than stretching cold muscles, some people choose to do it before they warm up. Others prefer to do it before and after a warmup. That depends on the stretching you’re using – the two primary types of stretching are static and dynamic. Static stretching entails stretching a muscle and holding it in a stretched position for a predetermined amount of time, while dynamic stretching includes motion while you’re stretching. That’s why there are so many stretching exercises out there. In general, it’s safer and more beneficial to stretch after a warmup as opposed to before one.

C. What Are the Basic Exercises?

Since stretching includes both static and dynamic options, the amount of basic exercises is massive. Some of the most common stretching exercises are:
  • Hamstring stretching
  • Quadriceps and hip flexor stretch
  • Calf stretching
  • Shoulder stretching
  • Trapezius stretching
  • Triceps stretching
  • Lower and upper back stretching
Some things that people use to aid their stretching are stretching rods and even towels at a time, which allow you to fix the necessary muscles in place while you’re stretching the others.  

Warming Up

Warming up is far different than stretching. It’s a notion of warming up the muscles and is usually done before stretching. It serves an integral role in any physical activity, as it prepares the body for any aerobic and anaerobic training.  

A. Goals

The primary goals of warming up are:
  • Improving circulation and blood flow
  • Elevating muscle and core temperature
  • Preparing the body for activity
  • Lessening the stress on tendons and joints
  • Dispersing the stress evenly
  • Improving performance and reducing the chance of injury

B. When Should You Do It?

In general, it’s safer and better to warm up before you stretch. While some people prefer to stretch tense muscles, it’s not nearly as safe and beneficial as warming them up first. Some people combine stretching and warmups, saving time and streamlining the process.  

C. What Are the Basic Exercises?

There are no preset basic exercises for warmups. The best exercise for warmups is the one that mirrors your workout in the best way possible. Reflecting your workout as close as possible will ensure that you’re warming up the right muscles for the proper exercise. Doing this will reduce the chance of injury, but it won’t prevent it entirely. Alternatively, warming up for your workout will allow you to do more repetitions, use more weight, and maintain good form. It prepares your muscles for both anaerobic and aerobic activity, allowing you to perform better. Injury can still happen, but it’s far less likely to occur if you’ve properly warmed up for your exercise.  

Problems With Confusing the Two

As stated before in this article, a lot of people use these two terms interchangeably. We’ve defined what they are and explained that they mean two entirely different things – but most people aren’t aware of the definitions. People either don’t warm up or stretch properly, increasing the risk of injury and getting less out of their training sessions. Doing both will be highly beneficial for your workouts, as you’ll improve flexibility, circulation, and prepare your body for your workout. A good stretched, warmed up body will undoubtedly go through a training session with relative ease, as opposed to a body that isn’t adequately prepared. At times, stretching can be a warmup as well, depending on the type of stretch. Usually, static stretching isn’t considered a warm-up, while dynamic stretching can be. A dynamic stretch that includes adequate amounts of movement and a full range of motion can be considered a warmup. Confusing the two terms might lead people to do only one before a workout, which could increase the chance of injury. Another essential part of properly warming up and stretching your muscles is that you’ll have more productive workouts. Doing this will allow you to increase the intensity and better target particular muscle groups – assisting muscle growth. It will also decrease your DOMS and overall soreness, so you’ll be back at 100% on your next session. It will also benefit your fitness efforts in the long run – stretching and warming up is essential for athletes who are still developing, as it prepares their body for further training and conditioning.  


Stretching and warming up are two entirely different things – but both of them are highly beneficial to your overall health and fitness. Not only will you be able to lift more weight and last longer, but you’ll also diminish the chances of injury. The combination of stretching and warming up provides a safe way to train and ensures that the muscles and body are adequately prepared for a good workout. So remember, stretch, warm up, and push the limit with every workout!