Today we are looking at one of the more over looked aspects of training and that is warming up. I have found that a lot of people don’t warm up before training for a number of reasons like, not having enough time, lack of knowledge or just didn’t want to. I break the warming up process into three parts.
Part 1 – General Warm-up
This part involves some light cardiovascular work. It only has to be 5 to 10 minutes at a light pace but it is probably the most important part of warming up. The general warm-up serves many purposes. One is increasing internal body temperature. Have you ever heard the phrase “a warm muscle is an elastic muscle”? If not I probably made it up but it’s definitely true. What happens as your body temperature increases is the blood flow to the working muscles becomes increased. As this occurs, the muscles become more susceptible to elongating or stretching. Another benefit of increased blood flow is more oxygen and nutrients will reach the working muscles during the training session resulting in better recovery. Lastly a proper general warm-up will cause the body to produce various hormones that are responsible for energy production.
Part 2 – Dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretching involves movements that involve muscular force to produce the stretch. I normally refer to dynamic stretching as “active stretching”. This is the type of stretching you want to do before your workout. Traditional static stretching where you stretch and hold should be saved for after the workout. Static stretching done before your workout can lead to a decrease in strength during your workout. Dynamic stretching includes movements such as arm swings, internal and external shoulder rotations, trunk rotations, body weight squats, side bends, and ext. You only need to perform a few dynamic stretches before your workout, most importantly for the muscle you are working that day.
Part 3 – Warm up sets
The last part of the warm up includes light warm up sets. Before you go right into heavy lifting during your training it is important to get a warm up set in. This is just a light first set of an exercise to prepare your muscles for the work ahead. It also is a practice run where you can practice your form on the exercise to make sure you have it down perfect before the working sets. Make sure the warm up set is not too heavy and feels like a working set because that is not what we are looking for.
Conclusion – Warming up is important not only for performance benefits but for health benefits as well. By warming up you can significantly decrease your likelihood of getting injured during training. Next time you go to the gym make sure you get your warm up in!