It’s tempting when you’re low on time and ready to get your workout in to simply skip a warm-up. However, a brief warm-up before every workout is easy to do and extremely beneficial. Here’s why:
Slowly bringing your heart rate up before rigorous exercise gives your body a boost in blood flow to the muscles as you move them. As your heart rate begins to climb and blood begins to pump more forcefully throughout your body, your muscles begin to heat up, loosen up, and relax. This is especially important if you’ve been mostly sedentary leading up to your workout. Instantly going from cold, stiff muscles to rigorous exercise puts you at a high risk for muscle and joint injuries. Additionally, your muscles will be ill-prepared to perform at their highest level making your workout less efficient and ultimately ineffective.
On top of the physical benefits of warming up, you will also feel more mentally prepared for your workout. Sometimes we are still busy thinking about the rest of our day to truly focus on exercise. We go through the motions, get in our “workout”, and call it a day. However, if you choose to make yourself really focus on what you’re about to do throughout your warm up, your mind will be in sync with your body, making you that much more prepared for a truly rewarding workout. Similar to how professional athletes are coached on visualizing success on the court or field, you should visualize you completing your workout out at a high level. Doing so will make it much more likely that you will, in fact, complete your workout more intensely and effectively, getting you better results.
How to Warm Up
Focus on the muscles that are about to be worked the hardest. If you’re about to run 5 miles, try brisk walking, dynamic stretches, and plyometrics to warm and loosen up the leg muscles. Maybe today is chest and arm day at the gym: try repeating the motions of lifts you’ll perform with little to no weight first, preparing your muscles for the harder work.
A quality warm-up can happen in just a few minutes if you are not particularly cold to start. Simply move your body in ways that feel good, stretching out stiffness and loosening up joints. By nature of the term, you should feel warm after your warm up. If you haven’t built any heat in your body, you haven’t gotten your blood flowing enough yet. Gradually intensify your warm up in preparation for the real workout to begin.
Remember, a good warm up before your workout is easy and so impactful! Getting your body prepared for hard work keeps you in the game, gets you better results, and makes you feel better overall.