I get this question a lot from clients. How should I warm up? Should I do the same warm up every time? Is there one warm up that is better than another? How do I know if I am ready for more advanced warm ups? Well, let’s dive in and warm up on warming up!
In gym class or football, warming up was something we did every day. It would start with jumping jacks, various static stretches, and finish with position specific warm ups which ended up being more running. This is the typical, old-school warm up. The current research on the subject suggests a very different way to get ready for physical activity starting with a light, low intensity exercise and a dynamic warm up.
Doing a light, low intensity gets your body ready physiologically ready for exercise. It increases heart rate, gets blood flowing to muscles, and gets hormones into the blood. This also loosens up joints by relaxing origins and insertions of muscles. This lets the joint move through a full range of motion more efficiently.
A dynamic warm up will get your body ready for a work out or for competition. It will increase oxygen delivery to the muscle, increase neuron firing rate to the muscle, and decrease risk for injury. This not only gets your body ready, but it gets your mind ready for exercise. With a dynamic warm up, you can start at a slow speed and gradually increase to get the body ready.
This is different from stretching in that the goal of stretching is to increase flexibility through muscle lengthening. While static stretching has long been a part of the traditional warm up, it does very little to get the mind or body ready for exercise or competition. The most recent studies suggest that it can be used during a cool down to greatly reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and increase blood flow to fatigued muscles. It is still a very important aspect of fitness via range of motion. It should be an important part of your exercise routine.
A good warm up can make the difference between hitting a personal record or barely getting out of your warm up weight on an exercise. It is easily overlooked, but taking a few minutes to go through a controlled range of motion will increase your performance and help you feel more alert and ready to exercise!
By: James Mingle