Few things get under my skin more than when I see someone not warm up before they work out. I think it’s a combination of not realizing how vital a warm-up is and that they don’t know what to do.
A total body warm-up is essential for your workout to see maximum benefits and minimize the risks of injuries. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a light jog or getting ready to play a 60-minute football game. Far too often, I watch clients at our studio walk 20 seconds before their training session and act prepared to go.
This is not some walk through the park you’re coming to…It’s an intense 30-minute workout!
You must get your body (and yes, your mind) ready to go, or you’ll be wasting valuable time…while also running an increased risk of injury.
Have you ever felt like you didn’t get the most out of your workout on a particular day? This could be traced back to your warm-up (or the lack thereof).
Many people think that walking on the treadmill or doing the old “right over left” stretch is good enough for a warm-up…well I’m here to tell you that this way of thinking is dead wrong, and it could be costing you!
You should always look to complete a total body, dynamic warm-up before you do your workout for many reasons, especially if you’re pushing your body to perform at a high level of intensity.
Your body needs to get warm…literally!
With a good warm-up, your core temperature should increase several degrees. Your heart rate also needs to be elevated to increase blood flow to every muscle in your body. Your body’s central nervous system needs to be “woken up” as well. This will prepare your brain for the increased stresses you’re about to undergo.
Once your muscles’ temperature increases, you’ll be ready for higher-intensity movement or resistance training.
When your body performs an exercise, muscles shorten and lengthen. Your muscles won’t do this effectively if they’re not warm. What may happen very well (if you didn’t warm up) is when your muscles contract and lengthen, they may tear. This is precisely how most muscle pulls and tears occur.
If you just got out of bed or just strolled into the gym after sitting at a desk at work all day, are your muscles ready to do high-intensity movements like lunges and pull-ups?
I don’t think so!
Your muscles and connective tissue need to be 100% prepared for the demands you’ll place on them from the workout. If your trainer hasn’t already shown you a dynamic warm-up, ask them to take you through one.
A good start when you get to the gym is to get on some cardio equipment and get your heart rate up and some blood flowing to your muscles. Next, perform the dynamic exercises and stretches that your trainer shows you. A good warm-up may look something like this:
• Forward runs, backward runs, side shuffles (all can be done on a treadmill)
• Walking: knee squeezes, straight leg raises
• High knees, butt kicks, carioca step
• Lunges with rotations
• Side Lunges with stretch
• T-Stabilization (shoulder/chest stretch)
• Figure 4 single leg squat stretch
• Inch worm walkouts
Remember, warming up is precisely that…you’re warming your body up for movement. A good rule of thumb to go by from now on is that if you’re not sweating at the end of your warm-up, you didn’t warm up correctly!