If you’re a regular gym goer, you’ll know the importance of warming up and cooling down and if the gym isn’t your regular haunt, you’ve probably still heard of this old adage. But, statistics show that even though we know we should be doing a quick pre- and post-workout session, not many of us are actually dedicating anytime to it.
Why You Should Warm Up Before Exercise
The preparation for a workout is sometimes just as important as the workout itself and here’s why:
Stretching and warming up the muscles before a workout aids muscle mobility and helps your flexibility – both of which help increase your performance. So, if you’re prone to skipping your warm up, you could find yourself increasing the probability of injury, such as tearing a muscle. And no one wants that.
The Best Ways to Warm Up Quickly
If you’re limited with time, the quickest way to warm up is to do some short, sharp moves that target a wide range of muscle groups, including the main muscles such as your quads, back and core but also pay particular attention to your glutes and hips – these are pivotal to most exercise moves but regularly get forgotten about; warm these up and you’ll have a much better workout.
For a quick way to warm up you can hit the rowing machine, pound the treadmill or jump on the elliptical for 10 minutes; alternatively, you can do some mobility moves to heat those muscles up and increase your range of movement ahead of your session.
By stretching out your tight muscles, you’ll increase the blood flow to your muscles which assists in preventing soreness and speeds up your overall recovery process. This is also true for post workout, but we’ll come onto that in another blog.
As we focus on pre-workout warm-up moves, here are some of our favourite warm up techniques to activate your muscles:
Lunge with a twist – this dynamic stretching move activates a few muscles at once, from your back through your hip flexors down to your leg.
Skipping – skipping with a rope is an incredible way to warm up the body; it gets the blood pumping, heart rate increasing and the body temperature (and therefore muscles) warm.
Ankle rotations – often forgotten about, the ankles are prone to injury as they’re not warmed up or strengthened enough. Take time to rotate the ankles to get them going ahead of a workout. For more information on how to strengthen your ankles, check out our blog.
Pigeon stretch – we talk about this in our blog The 7 Best Hip Flexor Stretches because it is an awesome stretch. It gets deep into the hip flexor and is definitely an area that you want to avoid injuring so look after it as much as you can.
Jumping Jacks – the classic move that will elevate your heart rate and get the key muscle groups warmed up, jumping jacks (or star jumps) are a simple but effective way to warm up.
Techniques for Deep Stretches
You’ve heard that form is important with exercise, well that saying is just as significant when it comes to stretching. You need to pay attention to your pre (or post) workout stretches and ensure you’re not over expanding the muscle tissue; if you feel any pain, twinge or discomfort when stretching, it’s best to stop. There’s one thing breathing into a deep stretch through DOMs, but you know your body and if something doesn’t feel right, it’s better the air on the side of caution and stop what you’re doing.
If you feel comfortable, it’s best to hold the stretch for up to a minute before moving onto the next; take deep breaths throughout and focus your attention on something else to help moderate the feeling – or to keep your balance, depending on what stretch you’re doing.
Benefits from Stretching
You’ll quickly be reaping the rewards of warming up properly as your workouts are performed at optimum level, your recovery time is reduced, you’ll avoid injury and increase mobility and flexibility.
If you invest time into a proper rehabilitation routine, you will also see a reduction in your overall aches and pains and an increase in your posture so it’s definitely worth your while to find an extra 10 – 15 minutes a session to warm your body up.