Don’t Start the Workout yet!
There will be times where a person will skip a proper warm up and get right to an activity. This is a mistake! Why? We will explain in this article why that is so. For every workout you do no matter how short or insignificant you believe it is you should do a proper warm up. Avoid quick warm ups! A proper warm up will last you 5 – 10 minutes. When done properly a warm up will make you feel prepared and ready to take on your workout!
Benefits of the Warm up
What a warm up does is increase muscle temperature, core temperature, and blood flow. When a person’s body is either too cold or has a lack of blood flow that greatly increases the chances of injuries. It’s also detrimental to the quality of the workout. In addition a warm body greatly assists in having increased strength during resistance training. Another warm up benefit that occurs from higher temperatures in the body is increased oxygen release from blood cells. This is called the Bohr effect, which allows more oxygen to be released and used by the body. The more oxygen there is the more energy that will be created by the aerobic energy system. More Energy = Better Workout!
Dynamic Warm up
Now that we know a warm up is essential all you have to do is static/hold stretch a bit right? Not quite. What research has shown us is that a good warm up will consist mostly of dynamic stretches and movement. Dynamic movements allow a person to be able to perform movements that will be similar to what they will perform. A great dynamic warm up will target all the major muscle groups/movements. A greater active range of motion is also a result of a dynamic warm up. This allows for better movements during the workout, which leads to a more effective workout overall.
Being able to get better flexibility has been the goal of static stretching for years. However a warm up was typically thought of holding a static position stretching out all the tight muscles. This is still important but research has shown us that it is best to perform static stretching after a workout. Each stretch should last 15 – 30 seconds and done to the point of mild discomfort. The reasons for stretching after a workout include being able to get a better stretch due to the muscles being warm and loosened from a workout. This in turn would lead to better flexibility and range of motion when done consistently following a workout. However static stretching done before a workout overstretches the muscles and leads to less strength and a poorer quality workout.
Warm Up & Stretching = Vital
The importance of a warm up and cool down can’t be stressed enough. – Jamie Redknapp
As you can see a good warm up is vital to having a great workout. On top of that stretching is a vital part following the workout or even on a regular basis when done properly. A good warm up should be done at a good pace that encourages the heart to be pumping but not to the point of fatigue. Static stretching should be reserved for the end of a workout following the cool down and should last 5 – 10 minutes. Overall there are many good reasons to warm up and stretch. Taking the time out to do both will help you on your journey to reach your goals!
- Baechle, T. R., & Earle, R. W. (2008). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.