Warming up an essential part of exercise and sometimes overlooked. Lack of time, patience, and knowledge are some of the reasons why one may skip their warm-up. In this article, we will be discussing the benefits of warming up and how to warm up.
Exercise is known to be good stress on the body. The mind and body co-ordinate and generate movements that have been known to both enhance and maintain health/fitness levels. When the right amount of stress is used, health benefits are achieved. When the wrong amount of stress is used, the chance of physical injury is increased. This may manifest as a strain, to a muscle or tendon, a sprain to a ligament, or an insult to a nerve. Injuries often are the result of exceeding a threshold that the body is not capable of maintaining. For example, lifting too much heavyweights, doing too many repetitions, or sudden uncoordinated motion. Since injury is a major factor in ‘falling off’ a program one should take the proper precautions to avoid this setback. This is where warming up comes into play.
When one warms up, they drive blood throughout the working muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The joints are lubricated and the core body temperature is warmed up. The nervous system is also stimulated and prepped for the co-ordinated motion that is to be executed between the brain and body. Both of these effects strongly reduce the chances of injury by preparing the muscles, joints, and brain for the ‘good’ stress that is to come. A systemic review on studies regarding warming up (from 1966-2005), published by the Journal of Science and Medicine concluded, “the weight of evidence is in favor of a decreased risk of injury” (Fradkin, 2006).
Now that you hopefully see the benefits of warming up we will outline the 3 ways of warming up: Mind, muscles, and movement.
- Mind – Consider the mind being the boss of the body. Before warming up the body it has been shown that there is benefit in warming up the mind first. An example of a mental work out would be visualizing yourself exercising beforehand. Visualize and imagine you are exercising with positive and successful results. A systemic research study published by the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine concluded that mental imagery with physical performance together is best for improving strength (Slimani, 2016).
- Muscles – Warming up the muscles can consist of any form of cardiovascular activity. Walking or jogging on the spot, elliptical, treadmill, and jumping jacks are all examples. Just make sure to start off gently. Consider this portion lubricating your joints, increasing your heart rate, and blood pressure, prepping your body for your exercise routine. To save time you can consider combining the first two warm-ups together (mind and muscle).
- Movement – Rehearsing your first exercise, with no load, is crucial before training. This warms up your motor control centers, which link your brain and body together. Physically rehearsing your first exercise, with no weights, and little range of motion progressing into a full range of motion is optimal. For example, if your first exercise is a barbell squat. Begin first by doing ½ bodyweight squats for 15-20 reps. Then full bodyweight squats for 15-20 reps. This will prepare the mind and muscles together.
Apply these three warm-ups before exercising to see better results and avoid injury. Now go and get it, tough girl!
Fradkin, Gabbe, Cameron, F., GJ, CA. (2006, September 1). Effects of Mental Imagery on Muscular Strength in Healthy and Patient Participants: A Systematic Review. Retrieved June 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4974856/
Slimani, M., Tod, D., Chaabene, H., Miarka, B., & Chamari, K. (2016, August 5). Effects of Mental Imagery on Muscular Strength in Healthy and Patient Participants: A Systematic Review. Retrieved June 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4974856/