Warming up before your exercise is key to ensuring that you get the most out of every workout.
And no, this doesn’t mean toe touches and arm stretches.
We mean real warmups that start to get your heart rate up a little.
A warm up should mimic the activity you’re about to do, but at a lower intensity and lower impact. For example, walking, using the elliptical/bike/StairMaster before running or doing a leg workout, using the TRX to do light exercises before an arm workout, etc.. A good warm up before strength training is to do the exercises you are about to perform with a very light weight first with higher reps. However, stretching is NOT the same thing as warming up. In fact, stretching should come at the very end of your workout for best results when your muscles are completely warmed up and not stiff.
According to fitday.com, the importance f warming up can be easily compared to a car. “The importance of warm up exercises can be compared to driving your car in freezing cold weather. It is generally best to allow your car to warm up a bit before revving it up to high speeds. The same principle applies when you work out. You want to physically prepare your body for the demands of a strenuous workout by gradually increasing your body temperature”.
A warm-up helps you prepare both mentally and physically for exercise, and reduces the chance of injury. During a warm-up, any injury you have can be recognized, and further injury can then be prevented. Other benefits of a proper warm up include:
- Increased movement of blood through your tissues, making the muscles more flexible.
- Oxygen can easily be delivered to your muscles preventing you from getting out of breath too early on.
- Prepares your muscles for stretching
- Prepares your heart for an increase in activity, preventing a rapid increase in blood pressure
- Prepares you mentally for the upcoming exercise
A helpful tip: As “out dated” at the picture below may seem, this is how your warming up and cooling down periods of working out should look: Smaller versions of your planned exercise before you workout, then stationary stretching to cool down.