When it comes to exercising such as weight training, strength training, cardio, calisthenics, cross-training, running, cycling, or any other form of physical activity for that matter, warming up is, without question, one of the most important things you should do, and for good reason.
We all know how beneficial physical exercise is, and yet despite this, a great deal of us are simply not warming up our muscles or body enough prior to beginning the workout. We run the risk of seriously injuring ourselves due to failing to warm up, or simply warming up incorrectly.
When you’re about to hit “GO” for your workout, do you perform any stretches or simple exercises, or do you jump right into your workout?
Many people will begin their workout without any form of warm up or stretching and this could be a big mistake. When it comes to how to warming up properly we’ll be explaining the benefits of warming up, how to perform a warm up, the issues associated with failing to warm up, plus a few examples of effective warm ups.
So, without any further ado, let’s get started by looking at how to warm up properly before weight training.
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What is warming up – Warming up before exercising helps prepare the body for physical activity. It increases the core body temperature, increases muscle elasticity, gets more oxygen into the muscle cells, it loosens up stiff muscles and joints to better prepare them for the workout that’s about to be performed and gets you mentally ready for the workout. They typically are performed for 5 to 10 minutes at low intensity and moderate pace.
There are two basic types of warm ups general and specific. General warm ups are low-intensity exercises that may not be associated with a specific workout about to be performed such as walking on a treadmill or elliptical before lifting weights. A specific warm up again are low-intensity exercises targeting the muscles planned to be worked during that workout session such as body-weight squats or push ups before training quads and chest.
Why should you warm up – There are a number of reasons why you should warm up before you work out, some of the main examples ones include:
Injury prevention – One of the biggest benefits associated with warm ups is it can help prevent injury. If you begin a workout without warming up, your muscles could be stiff and tense, and you would be more prone to injury. Think about it: if you have a taut piece of string and pull it tight, it is more likely to snap than if it was loose and flexible. The same principle applies to the muscle fibers in your body.
If you begin training without warming up your muscles they are more susceptible to injury with a pull or tear. Warming up with a variety of exercises and stretches, improves muscle elasticity and extensability.
Improved athletic performance – Another huge benefit of warming up is the fact that it can actually improve athletic performance, so your workouts become more effective and beneficial as a result. As mentioned on this bodybuilding blog, stretching and warming up increases blood flow to the muscles, which increases oxygen transportation to the cells. The more oxygen the cells have, the more energy they have. Warming up is almost the equivalent of fuelling up a car before a long journey.
Increased core body temperature – This is another huge benefit of warming up because when you increase your core body temperature, your metabolism speeds up by default, enabling you to burn off more calories and to generate more energy as a result. The colder your core body temperature, the less efficient your workouts will be and indeed, your body too for that matter.
Tips on how to warm up correctly – Now that we’ve taken a look at what warming up is, the issues associated with failing to do so, and what the benefits are, we’ll now take a look at a few simple and effective ways to warm up correctly, and how making it fun and enjoyable at the same time.
Cardio – One easy go-to method of warming up is cardio. You can use the treadmill, stepmill, elliptical, stationary bike or rowing machine to get the body moving and the heart rate up to prepare for the workout. Put the speed of the machine on a moderate pace (you can hold a conversation) and get prepared for the workout to come. Change up your warm up each session by varying the speed and/or incline.
Stretch – Static stretching is an excellent warm up because it gently stretches the muscles which helps prevent injury and gets them ready for more intense activity. When stretching your limbs gently hold the position for 30 seconds for each muscle.
Try jumping rope – Jump ropes is a great form of cardio that is fun and an effective method for warming up. Even if you can’t jump rope very well, you don’t need to speed rope like a boxer, as long as you are jumping and getting your heart rate up, your muscles will loosen up, and it will increase your heart rate which will warm up your core body temperature. Just remember, you only need around 5 to 10 minutes and make sure to build up gradually and attempt to improve with each jump rope warm up session.
Foam rolling – Implementing foam rolling (self-myofascial release) as part of your warm up routine is another excellent method. A foam roller is a long cylindrical tube made of durable, heavy foam that is placed under various muscles and body parts, and rolled back and forth.
Foam rolling stimulates a deep tissue massage and helps to break down muscle fascia and knots. Foam rolling is a great way of not only loosening up tense and stiff muscles, but also of reducing pain and inflammation as well. When it comes to how to warm up before exercise, foam rolling is an excellent choice especially if you have some soreness from a previous workout session.
Now that you know the pros of warming up, and some methods, be sure to incorporate it into your daily workout routine.
Do you stretch before you work out? Why or why not?