Are You Wasting Your Warm Up?
If you have any kind of health or fitness goal that requires you to workout – be it in a gym, at home or in a park, then it is of utmost importance to place a high priority on being consistent. In my experience, both with my own goals and client’s goals, getting the prescribed number of sessions in each and every week is possibly the major contributing factor to ticking those goals off.
So let me ask you… what do you think can be a major roadblock to consistency??
If you answered INJURIES, you would be spot on!
Injuries, in any way, shape or form, can derail someones progress, and therefore consistency, in an instant.
How can we reduce the likelihood or even prevent injuries from happening? WARMING UP!!
So I ask you… are you wasting your warm up?
I’ll answer this one for you… YES!
Too often I see people arrive 5 mins (or less) before they are due to start training, step onto a treadmill and walk slower than they would around the isles of a grocery store!
Now don’t get me wrong, 5 mins, although not ideal, is actually enough time for a warm up provided its smart and gets your body primed for the activity to follow. Walking just doesn’t cut it! Your body is used to walking. Its been doing it since it learned to stand! If you really want to stay injury free and remain consistent in the gym, a well thought out, well designed warm up is a must. Preferably allowing 10 – 15 mins.
Im sure you’re familiar with benefits of a warm up but I wanted to run through them just to re-cap….
- Increased movement of blood through your tissues, making the muscles more pliable.
- Increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This prevents you from getting out of breath early or too easily.
- Prepares your muscles for stretching
- Prepares your heart for an increase in activity, preventing a rapid increase in blood pressure
- Prepares you mentally for the upcoming exercise
- Primes your nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for exercise
- Improves coordination and reaction times
What does the best warm up look like? The answer to this alone could have an article all to its self, but essentially a warm up should be gradual. Starting light, then increasing in intensity as you get nearer the start of your workout.
A warm-up should start with exercises of low intensity and then progress to match the intensity of the main exercises of the workout. The greater the intensity of the workout, the longer its warm-up should be. Speed, strength, and difficult technical workouts should have longer warm-ups than aerobic fitness or endurance workouts. A general recommendation is to perform a warm-up that includes all the large muscle groups of the body.
For an effective warm up, perform movements that increase your heart rate and breathing, and slightly increase the temperature of your muscle tissue. A good indication of this is when you have raised a light sweat. Your warm up should be nice and easy. If it makes you too tired, try doing less strenuous warm up exercises.
In closing, cold muscles do not absorb shock or impact as well, and are more susceptible to injury. While scientific studies are ongoing to define the best warm up techniques for injury prevention, the warm up in general is firmly established as a key to exercising safely and effectively. A warm up should be done before strength training, aerobic (and anaerobic exercise) and stretching.
Stay tuned for examples of exercises to use for specific warm ups which will enable you to get the most out of your body AND your training!