Warm-ups are very underrated. A lot of people have tried skipping warm-ups because they feel that it’s pointless, that it only wastes energy better spent on the actual exercises, and that it doesn’t really add anything useful to the program.
Any health and fitness expert can tell you that this belief cannot be farther away from the truth.
Regardless of what kind of physical activity you will be taking part of, it is important to make sure that your body is warmed-up first.
Warm-up exercises not only loosen the joints and muscles of one’s body, it also helps ready the mind for what’s ahead.
Warming-up is like placing both your mind and body into a prepared state of conditioning.
We spoke with Matt, the gym owner of Rec Xpress Clayton, about his thoughts on warming up.
What Exactly Happens When We Warm-up?
As the name implies, warm-up exercises are designed to warm our body. We take on a series of simple and repetitive movements to slowly build-up the bones and muscles for further action. As we do this, the body’s core temperature starts to increase as well.
The increased body heat generated by repeated muscle movements help make our actions look more flexible and controlled.
Improved flexibility in the movements can then lead to lessen risks for injuries like muscle tears and pulls.
Additionally, the mind and body are able to create and follow a certain flow or rhythm that significantly improves our performance for the upcoming activities.
What is the Proper Way to Warm-up Before a Gym Workout?
Warm-up exercises will differ depending on what kind of physical activity you will be doing. Warm-ups are designed to introduce your body slowly to a basic version of whichever workout you plan on doing later, so there is no specific routine that applies to everyone.
It’s like taking baby steps if you want to walk later or waddling in the water first before going swimming.
Warm-ups will also differ depending on the person’s state of fitness. Remember that the idea is to get your body ready for what’s next, so make sure your warm-up exercises are tailored to your fitness level as well.
Trying to overdo warm-up exercises will not only waste your time and effort, it will completely defeat the purpose of readying your body, too by punishing it too early.
How to Set-up Your own Warm-up Exercises
Although warm-ups may vary based on the person doing it and his/her fitness level and workout, there are basic goals that all warm-up exercises should follow.
Keep the following in mind as you create your own warm-up routine.
1.) Mobility Movements
The first thing you should do is think of ways on how you can loosen the muscles that you will be using for your workout. If you plan to work on your shoulders later, you can try to add arm circles in your warm-ups.
Arm circles are great at relieving tension in the shoulders while also getting the joints warm.
If you are looking forward to some heavy powerlifting exercises, you might want to try hip rotations to prepare your lower body for the incoming stress. Otherwise, tight hips can restrict the muscles in your lower body from acting properly, which can strain the rest of the muscles and possibly cause pain or injury.
2.) Pump Your Heart Up
The warm-up exercises need to get to your nervous system so that the heart can pump blood faster for better circulation.
Normally, jogging or running is recommended to pump your heart up, but not all people can still go on with their workout routines after a turn on the treadmill. For people who don’t feel like they can do both, start with the stationary bike on a low resistance instead.
3.) Learn the Difference in Stretching
There are generally two types of stretching. Dynamic stretching refers to continuous movement as you go through a range of different motions. Static stretching, on the other hand, is when you stretch your muscles and hold them in position for a period of time.
Dynamic stretching is advised for warm-up exercises because it keeps the blood running and the muscles active.
Static stretching is more suitable for cooling down, as the muscles are flexed in place to resist injury.
4.) Rinse and Repeat
Once you have devised the necessary movement exercises suitable for the muscles you will be working out, the next step is to familiarize your body with them. If you are having trouble doing the warm-up exercises more than once, try to lessen the intensity on the succeeding tries.
Continuously practicing the warm-up movements will help teach muscle memory, also known as neuromuscular adaptation.
Once your body is used to warming-up to a specific set of movements, it will be faster to ready your body for working out.
Warming-up helps your body recognize that physical activity is ongoing while significantly decreasing your chances of getting hurt.
When creating your own set of warm-up exercises, always remember that your warm-up routine should not cause you fatigue.
If you are getting tired just from the warm-up exercises, it means you need to change up your selection. There are a variety of warm-up exercises to choose from, so make sure you focus on what your body needs as well as what your fitness level can support.