Why & How To Warm Up
Completing a proper warm up is essential to a good workout session. Getting your body prepared to exercise will keep you injury free and more productive. But just getting the blood flowing isn’t the best way to go about it. Instead, you’ll want to incorporate actual movement to boost your workouts.
Confession time: I actually hate warming up. I always have. It’s one of those mind numbing things I do because I know I should when in reality my mind is screaming to get started with something more intense. Sad. I know.
It wasn’t until the past two years, when I started lifting significantly heavy that I realized the true value of warm ups. The truth it, you can’t just jump into a 190lbs deadlift with cold or even partially warmed muscles. You’re just asking to tear or herniate something.
Part of my issue with my warm up hatred is that they were so boring. I mean what the hell is the point in jogging on the treadmill for six minutes before moving into my workout? There isn’t one.
Wasting time doing mindless movements on cardio equipment before your workout isn’t overly effective. But that doesn’t mean that warming up in general isn’t a good idea if done properly.
So if you’re not lifting anything too heavy, why should you warm up?
It prepares your body for exercise
Seriously, you can’t exercise with cold muscles. Getting the blood flowing to your extremities is key to preparing tour muscles to do something a bit more intense. Even if your workout is basic, it still helps to start with light movements.
It allows you to do some pre-habilitation work
While you may not want to -admit it, everyone could use some pre-habilitation. Little exercises that work our old injuries, our problem areas (like poor shoulder mobility) and areas that we need to be functioning optimally for our workout to come.
It communicates to the body what’s to come
The body doesn’t function well when it’s completely caught off guard. If you’ve just rolled out of bed, sat and checked your face book and then decided to do some weighted front squats your muscles are going to be confused as hell.. and not in a good way. Warming up with just your bodyweight or light bands signals your body (your muscles as well as your central nervous system) that something further is not he way.
And like I mentioned, hanging out on the treadmill doesn’t really accomplish any of the above. Instead, focus on mimicking the movements you’ll be using in your workouts, warming up the specific joints you’ll be using (especially the shoulders and hips) and slowly progressing the intensity into your workout.
I like to use dynamic movements for this. The biggest thing to focus on is that your warm ups should be specific to your workouts. Meaning, doing bodyweight squats before you bench press isn’t really practical.
Below is a video encompassing a few of my favorite warm up exercises. These exercises hit all major muscle groups, really target the shoulders and hips and give you some basic idea of basic pre-habilitation exercises for everyday problems (poor upper back and hip mobility).
Don’t forget to print these warm up tips
A proper warm up should start off every single workout. This means mimicking the movements you’re about to perform, warming up shoulder and hip mobility and generally preparing the body of what’s to come. Your warm up doesn’t need to take fifteen minutes to be effective. In fact, my warm ups only last through 1.5 songs on my iPod. Keep it simple but keep it effective.
What’s your favorite warm up exercise?
Looking for more fitness tips? Check out Why Your Back Hurts & How To Fix It and 5 Resistance Training Tips For Beginners