The Importance of Warming Up
If you already workout (and even if you don't), you've likely heard that it is important to warm up before you get started, but why is it so important and what is the right way to warm up? Most fitness professionals know that a proper warm up is just as or even more important than the actual workout and live by this quote: “If you donÊ¼t have time to warm up, you donÊ¼t have time to workout.”
There are three major reasons you need to warm up before exercise: physically preparing your body for the upcoming activity, becoming mentally prepared and focused, and to help with injury prevention.
Upper Body Warm Up Exercises
Try incorporating this series of exercises to warm up your upper body before a workout.
A proper, full body warm up helps make sure you can perform your best and help prevent injury from training. A few of the benefits of a comprehensive warm up are:
- Gradually increases heart rate and blood flow, allowing your blood vessels to dilate as your circulation needs increase. By preventing sharp increases in your blood pressure and reducing your resistance to blood flow, you actually lower stress on your heart. This also increases the blood and oxygen delivery to your muscles to allow for more efficient muscle contraction and relaxation as well as quicker recovery.
- Increases your body temperature which increases your muscle elasticity to help prevent muscle strains, pulls, and tears.
- Increases your blood temperature which weakens the binding of oxygen to hemoglobin and allows oxygen to be more readily available for use by your muscles.
- Increases production of various hormones responsible for regulating energy production, making more carbs and fatty acids available for energy production.
- Stimulates your neuro-muscular pathways to allow for more efficient and higher quality movements.
Lower Body Warm Up Exercises
Use these drills to warm up your lower body before you begin a training session.
Most people are overloaded with responsibilities at home, work, school, and other places, which can make it challenging to fully focus on your workout for an hour or so. It's easy to think about everything you have to do after your workout while you're working out, but this can lead to poor technique and poor effort. You can't do anything about the big work project or the kids' homework while you're at the gym, so use the warm up to shift focus from life to the workout at hand.
Warming up gives you a opportunity to redirect your thoughts from our numerous stressors and responsibilities to the upcoming workout. You can throw on some head phones and escape from the world, even if itÊ¼s just for a short period of time. Use a warm up to transition from life in the real world to the workout.
If you look around the gym, you'll see a huge variety of people form an even bigger variety of fitness levels, from elite athletes to beginners and everything in between, but most of these people have something in common – they donÊ¼t have a lot of extra time. While keeping this in mind, it's important for your workout to focus on the lifts and exercises that have the biggest bang for your buck. Focusing on the big, most important lifts doesn't leave much time for “extras”, so try incorporating injury prevention techniques into your warm up. Some ideas for practical application of this strategy include
- Mobility and stability exercises to improve range of motion and joint stability.
- Foam rolling to relax tight muscles and break up adhesion and scar tissue.
- Auxiliary exercises to build smaller and often neglected (but still very important) muscles.
Regardless of your fitness level, experience or your goals, warming up is an integral part of an effective workout routine. Find an experienced and qualified fitness professional who can help you create an appropriate warm up suited for your needs as an exerciser.