It's only the warm-up...

Have you ever jumped right into a workout without warming up? Did you notice any differences in your performance? Was it better or worse? Odds are you probably didn't perform as well as you could have or worse, ended up with an injury. In this article, I am going to discuss what a warm-up is, why they are important, explain two types of stretching and which one to use in a warm-up, and give an example of a total body warm-up.

What is a warm-up?

A warm-up is exactly what it sounds like.. You are raising your body’s temperature or “warming it up” to prepare it for physical activity. A good warm-up should consist of low-intensity aerobic activities and dynamic stretching, depending upon the type of physical activity you are preparing for.

Why are warm-ups important?

As mentioned, warm-ups are important because they help the body prepare for physical activity. Preparing before a workout helps you perform optimally and reduce the likelihood of incurring an injury. By performing low-intensity aerobic activities for 5-10 minutes and dynamic stretches, your body temperature rises and circulation increases which in turn decreases muscle stiffness or more easily put, helps you to be more flexible. Being flexible is important for lots of different reasons, one of them being that it increases the range of motion in your joints. Range of motion is the measurement of movement around a joint or how far you can move a joint in different directions. A joint is made up of fibrous connective tissue and cartilage and is where two bones are attached enabling body parts to move. When joints can move through their entire range of motion, your body will move and perform in a more efficient manner, which will again help with increasing overall performance.

Types of Stretching

One way you can increase your range of motion is by stretching. There are two types of stretching, static and dynamic. Static stretching is stretching a muscle in a tough, yet comfortable position, for 10-30 seconds. This type of stretching is great to use during your cool-down to help your muscles relax and return back to their natural elongated state and can help reduce muscle soreness.

Static Stretching
Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is almost the same as static stretching, but instead of taking your muscles to a position to hold, you would take them slightly through that position in a smooth and rhythmic motion for a set amount of repetitions or time. Dynamic stretching is best for warm-ups because it increases your muscles core temperatures and mimics the mobility and eccentric movements of what you will be doing during physical activity.

Putting It All Together

Now that we know what basic components should go into a warm-up, we can create one for a total-body workout.

We want to start off with 5-10 minutes of light cardio. Cycling is great for warm-ups because it mimics a lot of the movements we will use during lower body exercises, such as squats.

From there, we will move into dynamic stretches.

To start, we will perform 10 reps of Spider-Man lunges with hip lift and rotations.

After that, we will perform 10 reps of T push-ups.

If we have any tight areas, we can give those extra attention by using foam rollers to perform self-myofascial release (SMR) to help the muscles further relax and lengthen. This topic will be covered more in detail in a future post. One last thing we want to do before jumping into lifting weights is to perform a few warm-up sets of light weight reps or to get really in-depth, perform multiple sets at specific weights based on percentages of the weight we plan on using in our heavier sets.

So here it is:

  • 5-10 minutes cycling

  • 10 Spider-Man lunges with hip lift and rotations

  • 10 T push-ups

  • Foam rolling as needed; 15-30 sec per area

  • Warm-up sets: 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps OR 1 light set of 10-15 reps, 1 set of 8 reps around 55-60% percent of the weight you will be lifting, 1 set of 5 reps around 70-75% of the weight you will be lifting, 1 set of 3 reps around 80-85% of the weight you will be lifting and 1 final set of 1 rep around 90-95% of the weight you will be lifting.

Now that you know what a warm-up is and why it’s important, hopefully you won’t be skipping yours again. If you found this post helpful share it with a friend to help them out as well!

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