4 Tips To Warm Up Properly

We know you may be eager to start your workout (or maybe to get it over with), but you should never skip a warm-up before engaging in any physical activity. When you exercise, your body goes through a number of adjustments that require some time to reach the necessary levels.

Since these adjustments don’t happen right away, a warm-up serves to encourage these adjustments to occur gradually, starting your exercise session at an easy level and increasing the intensity gradually. If you were to start your workout at a more intense level without a warm-up, your body wouldn’t be as prepared for the high demands being made of it, which could lead to injury or unnecessary fatigue.

What does a Warm Up Do?

A warm-up usually takes the form of some gentle exercise that gradually increases in intensity.

When you warm up, you’re improving blood flow to the muscles and warming up muscle tissue. So you want to do some kind of low-intensity work that prepares you for the exercise you’re about to do.

A pre-exercise warm-up does more than just make you warm, it:

  • Increases blood flow to the muscles, which enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients;
  • Warms your muscles, which promotes the energy-releasing reactions used during exercise and makes the muscles more supple;
  • Prepares your heart for an increase in activity;
  • Prepares you mentally for the upcoming exercise;
  • Prevents unnecessary stress and fatigue being placed on your muscles and heart, which can occur if you exercise strenuously without a warm-up.

A proper warm-up is essential to both preventing injury and helping you maximize the time and effort spent working out. Unfortunately, many people tend to overlook warm-ups in their haste to dive into their exercise. Or they spend too little time warming up. But a good warm-up will prepare body systems, tissues, and muscle, as well as unlock full range of motion, excite the nervous system, and prepare for specific movements. It can also give you a head start on post-workout recovery.

Tips for Warming Up:

1. Static Stretching vs. Warming up

You may remember having your gym teacher lead you in a series of stretches before starting the day’s exercises. However, recent studies show us that static stretching isn’t enough. In fact, too much static stretching can be detrimental to serious athletes. Several studies have shown that static stretching before training can actually decrease your potential for performance and diminish strength. Also, static stretching does not reduce the chance of injury.

That’s not to say that static stretching isn’t beneficial, but the goal of a warm-up is to prepare the body to move, not rest. Static stretching could be saved for post-workout.

2. Start Slow

You should not be starting your warm-up with intense, wild movements. Instead, let your body ease into the work ahead with slow positions that progress in difficulty and intensity. This will allow your core body temperature to warm gradually and ensures that you’re not increasing your chances of injury.

You could begin your warm-up with 5 minutes of light, low intensity physical activity like walking, jogging in place, or cycling. Pump your arms or make large, controlled circular movements to help warm the muscles of your upper body.

3. Exercise-Specific Warm-Up

If you have a specific exercise or sport in mind, you can warm up by performing the upcoming exercise at a slower pace. This will allow your body to simulate the movements you are about to perform, but at a lower intensity. For example, you could warm-up with steady jogging, cycling, or swimming before progressing to a faster speed. Then you can engage in the actual sport or exercise full-on.

4. Excite the Nervous System

Make sure you choose warm-up exercises that excite your nervous system. The more you excite it, the more you prepare it for activity, and the more efficient it can be during your workout session. This can be done by incorporating moves that require greater coordination such as jumps and bounds.