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Don't Fall at the First Hurdle!

The Importance of a Warm Up.




Hey, so I know that everyone is excited to get back to the gyms and outdoor activities again but I thought I would take a minute to talk about warming up. It’s something a lot of us are guilty of neglecting, me included. However after a period away from our normal workout regimes and activities due to lockdown it’s more important than ever to make sure our bodies are ready for exercise. Completing a warmup doesn’t just get our bodies ready for the workout ahead it also reduces the risk of injuries.



What is a warm up?


Well in basic terms a warm up is literally just a way of warming up your body’s core temperature ready for exercise. It is used to prepare the systems in our body for the workout ahead. Without an effective warm up you are leaving yourself open to injury. There are different types of warm ups depending on what type of activity your about to take part in. For example, someone playing basketball will complete a different warm up than someone who is about to lift weights. However, all should include exercises to mobilise joints, warm up muscles, raise your pulse, stretching and activity specific movements. Let’s take a look at each of these areas below and what order to do them.




Pulse Raiser


The first thing you are going to want to do is get that heart going and raise your core temperature. No matter if you have just rolled out of bed or finished a long day at work you need to get the body ready to workout. Raising your heart rate gradually better prepares your heart for higher tempo and more strenuous exercise in the main body of your workout. It also gets blood flowing to the muscles to make them more supple, so they respond better to your movements during the workout or activity. The duration will depend on the activity you are about to perform but in general I would say 3-10 mins of light cardio like jogging, rowing or cycling will get your heart going.



Joint Mobilising


Next you are going to want to make sure that your joints are able to move at their full range of motion. Joints are lubricated by synovial fluid which reduces the risk of soft tissue injuries. By adding in mobility exercises to your warm up it reduces the thickness of the synovial fluid which enables the joints to move easier, improving the range of motion. It also wakes up any other support muscles which you will be using and reduces the chance of injury and improves performance. Start with small movements and build up to bigger ones.



Stretching


Making sure your muscles have good elasticity before working out will reduce injuries. Elasticity depends on blood saturation which is improved by warming the muscles and raising your pulse (as sated in the other sections of the warm up). This brings more blood to the muscles and therefore helps with elasticity. It has been highly debated what type of stretching is better to get your body ready for exercise. I however normally find that dynamic stretching is better for warming up as it can also mimic movements which will be used in the main body of the workout. There has also been some research that holding static stetches for longer than 60 seconds can reduce power output. So, if you are going to do any static stretches before a workout make sure they are only for a short time of about 10-15 seconds.



Warming Up Muscles Through Activity Specific Movements


Making sure to warm up your muscles allows more efficient muscle contractions. It also widens the blood vessels to increase blood flow to the muscles which allows more oxygen, nutrients and fuel to get to the muscles while working out. This part of the warm up is a practise of the actions you will be doing in the main workout. It’s a chance to do the movements at a lower intensity. For example, if I am training legs with a client I add in air squats, lunges and split squats to make sure the body is ready to perform them with more weight in the workout. It also is a chance to see if there are any injuries or problems performing the movements while the intensity is low.



As you can see, it’s very important to warm up correctly and get your body ready for whatever activity your about to take part in. I can’t tell you how many times I get new clients with injuries which were directly caused from no or ineffective warm ups. You wouldn’t build a house on sand, you would start with solid foundations and a warm up is exactly that. It’s setting a solid base for you to start your workout and is essential to reaching your goals and reducing injuries, especially after long periods of inactivity or reduced intensity. To see an example of a generic warm up please click the link below to see one I have prepared for some of my clients to do at home, but it is a good example of how to structure a warm up.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doJZ7lqNa1o


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Thanks for reading.


Keep evolving!


Coach E