If you’re in a bit of a rush it is very easy to skip your warm up. However, warming up before you train, particularly if engaging in strenuous activity, has real physiological (and even psychological) benefits.
Warming up will also go a long way in injury prevention, making you more aware of what your body needs on that particular day. It goes without saying that every warm up will be different, this will depend on your fitness level, and the goal of your training. Below we have outlined the benefits and the four major goals of warming up.
Benefits of a Proper Warm-Up
The goal of warming up is to both enhance our performance and to prevent injuries. It prepares your heart, lungs and muscles for the main part of your workout. A good dynamic warm-up improves your range of movement and blood and oxygen flow to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments before it is time for them to get started with the real work!
Muscle temperature increases. The temperature of muscles used during a warm up will increase, which allows for better performance. Muscles will contract with more force and relax with more ease. This allows for enhancement of both speed and strength.
Blood temperature rises. As our blood travels through our muscles the temperature rises. As this increases, the binding of oxygen to hemoglobin weakens so oxygen becomes more available to working muscles, which can lead to improvements in endurance.
Improved range of motion in our joints. This is extremely important, particularly if our upcoming workout demands full range of motion through our joints. Warming our joints up will allow for quicker movements and more rapid reaction times.
Mental preparation. A big part of warming up involves getting your head ready for your upcoming training.
4 Major Goals of Warming Up
1. Loosen up
Mobility work is a fantastic way to prep your body for exercise. If you have a foam roller, you can also use this to help get the blood flowing. If you are new to foam rolling, this is a great full body routine.
2. Get your blood flowing
Raise your heart rate and in turn warm up muscles and wake up your nervous system. There are many ways you can do this: jog, slowly row, cycle at low resistance. You don’t want to be working so hard that you can no longer hold a conversation here, the goal is to get your body warmed up and your heart pumping.
3. Dynamic stretching
We try to avoid any static stretching during our warm ups (static stretches are where you hold a position for a certain amount of time). Instead we opt for more dynamic movement, which involves continuous movement through a range of motions. This may be making large circles with your arms, warming up your shoulders full range, or kicking your legs ups and down. The goal is to simply keep moving. For those of you who are new to dynamic stretching here is a great full body routine to start with.
The final piece of the puzzle – moving through the exercises planned for your workout at a MUCH lower intensity. Warming up for a long run, start off with a few technical drills. Working up to some heavy squats? Start by doing some bodyweight squats, or simply using just the bar. Working on movement patterns assists in muscle memory (or neuromuscular adaptation) and is the final component of preparing your body for action.
How long should I warm up for?
Warm up times can vary from 10 to 20 minutes. We tend to go for a longer warm up if we have a more intense workout planned. We like to be thoroughly prepared for all upcoming movements. We always advise a gradual increase in intensity throughout the warm up. To truly perform at your peak and reduce the risk of injury, take a few extra minutes for a good warm up!