I have a confession to make.
I never used to warm up
I thought it was a waste of time. I didn’t think it mattered that much and with limited time, forgoing warm up exercises became a habit so I could concentrate on “getting the most out of my workout.”
Fortunately I’ve come back to the truth before I hurt myself. The truth is, your warm up is incredibly important for ensuring that you get the most out of your workout while protecting you from injury. And the older we get, the more necessary it becomes.
So… why warm up?
- Your muscles and joints are like rubber bands. When they’re cold, it’s easy to break them. When they’re warm, they stretch, give, and move easily.
- Warming up raises your body temperature and primes your central nervous system for exercise.
- A proper warm up can increase flexibility, enhance muscular performance, and improve balance and coordination.
Since we sit and move so little for most of the day, our muscles are like tight rubber bands with little give. They need to be babied and gently warmed up so that you can tear it up in the gym (or living room/backyard/basement etc). Once warmed up, they can function at optimal capacity.
So… what constitutes a warm up?
Technically, any light activity that gets you almost to the point of sweating. An easy five minute jog can do the trick. But there’s better ways to take care of the job.
If you’re going for a run, walk, or jog, just take it easy in the first five minutes.
If you’re lifting weights, you’ll want to do a dynamic warm up that primes your whole body for exercise. These are exercises that incorporate a slight stretch while activating the muscles you’ll use during your workout.
If you’re doing sprints or intense cardio, do a dynamic warm up with emphasis on hip and leg exercises.
You need to warm up for a minimum of five minutes. The more intense your workout or the less conditioned you are, the longer your warm up should be.
Just tell me what to do
Pick a few exercises in each category below and perform them for a total of 5-10 minutes. I’ve provided a sample warm up as well.
Opposite toe touches
High kick walk
Lunges w/ torso twist
Example Warm Up Routine
- 2×30 seconds arm hugs
- 2×30 seconds arm circles
- 2×30 seconds high kicks
- 2×30 seconds high knees
- 1 minute jumping jacks
There ya go! It doesn’t take that long and goes a long way in protecting your body from injury.
Kind of like brushing your teeth. No one really likes it that much but they do it because they know they should.