Why warm up before exercise?

If you’re like me, sometimes you don’t always practice what you preach. It’s called being human and the cool thing about that is that the consequences of our non-actions remind you why you should do that thing you didn’t do. This includes skipping the all-important warm up component of your workout.

If you are going to be entirely honest with yourself, chances are you’ll admit that warming up is something you either miss out altogether, or you rush through it out of some sense of obligation. You know you are meant to do it and you see other people doing it but, well, it just feels like the boring bit before you actually get down to the serious stuff, the stuff you enjoy, the stuff that fires you up, the stuff that delivers the results…

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Whether it’s pounding out miles on an inclined treadmill, getting hot and sweaty working some pads, or moving some serious ‘iron work‘ around – this is the business end of your workout.

This is what you had in mind when you decided to go to the gym that day, this is what will deliver the buzz that will keep you elevated some time after you’ve closed the gym door behind you.

The humble warm up is merely a bit part player in the proceedings, devoid of excitment, ‘glamour’ and interest. But do not be fooled – it is absolutely key to all that follows…

Reasons why it’s important to warm up:

1. It raises core body temperature and tissue temperature

2. It initiates the release of important hormones like norepinephrine which help raise your alertness levels.

3. It helps to speed up your respiration so you get more oxygen to your working muscles.

All of these benefits translate to a safe and productive training session. Your body is prepared for the exertions that lie ahead and it is able to maximise the physical benefits having being properly warmed up. And crucially the warm up means you have taken steps to guard against the kinds of injuries that would unltimately prevent you doing any exercise at all.

Risks of not warming up properly:

1. Increase your risk of injury dramatically.

2. Don’t get your nervous system excited and ready for focused play (working out)

3. Decrease your performance

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An effective warm up sequence:

  1. 5-10 minutes of low intensity cardiovascular activity.
    This can be a steady jog, working on a recumbent bike or a combination of various calisthenic exercises like jumping jacks, running in place, etc. The intensity should be the lower end of your heart rate range.

  2. A dynamic joint warm up focused on the target muscle group for that day’s training session.
    For instance, if today is my leg day, I’m going to focus on making sure I have adequate mobility in my knees, hips and ankles.

  3. Dynamic stretches should be performed to help your muscles get prepared to contract properly.

With these simple tips you can get the most bang for your buck from your training sessions. Remember – each training session can bring you closer to your fitness goals and drag you screaming from them. The choice is YOURS.

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