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How to warm up and why

I believe warming up is an integral part of any successful exercise program, and therefore, warming up correctly can have a massive impact on your training both short and long-term. I would even go as far as to say that warming up may bear the same importance as the workout itself in some instances.

Warming up is an activity that is defined as “preparing the body for exercise”. There are many ways people choose to approach their warm up before a workout. I have seen people hop on a treadmill for 5-10 minutes, some start by choosing a light weight of whatever exercise they are going to do first, some people will stretch and others have a methodical routine that they follow.

There aren’t definitive rules to a warm up. However, you should be aiming to achieve some form of preparedness for the work you will be doing.

“Warming up is an activity that is defined as ‘preparing the body for exercise’. “

It is important for your warm up to be relevant to the task you are about to do. For example, if you are about to bench press, you would want to do exercises that are related to bench pressing. Additionally, your warm up should not be so difficult and so tiring that it affects your ability to complete your workout, or accumulate fatigue before you begin your first exercise. You want to be preparing your body for the task at hand.

“It is important for your warm up to be relevant to the task you are about to do. For example, if you are about to bench press, you would want to do exercises that are related to bench pressing.”

What does warming up do?

– Raises your body temperature

– Increases your heart rate

– Increases blood flow to the muscles and joints that will be used during exercise

Why you should warm up:

– Takes the body into a sympathetic state from a relaxed (parasympathetic) state, ready to perform work

– Warm muscles can contract harder and faster

– Has been found to increase performance across the vast majority sports

– Mental preparation – the warm up can be a time you take to focus on the workout ahead and ensure you are able to complete it without distraction or hesitation

Sample lower body warm up routine:

As stated above your warm up should be relevant to what you will be doing in your workout. Below are examples of what I do before a squat/leg session. As I am a Power-lifter, the exercises and drills I do before I train are specific to my sport. It is important to ensure that a warm up is somewhat specific to your sport, as well as specific to the exercise that you will be doing during the upcoming training session.

  • Calf raises (2×20) – I do this to assist in opening my ankles before a leg work out as I have a history of poor ankle range of motion, where I am unable to reach the range of motion required to complete the exercises I will be doing (usually squatting). I ensure I get a good stretch and full contraction on each repetition. I find that this protocol allows me to access more range, which carries over when I perform leg movements.
How to warm up and why
  • Hip thrusts (2×15) – as I spend a lot of time sitting when not at work, activating my glutes is a way to not only increase blood flow to this area and prime the muscle for the work I will need it to do.
How to warm up and why
  • Split squats (2×10 each side) – this is both a quadriceps and glute warm up. I also use this exercise to get some blood flow into my knee which I have had a history of patellar tendonitis in.
How to warm up and why
  • Squat with pause (1×10) – I use this to warm up my legs, while also opening my hips. This is an excellent way to prepare for my training session without fatiguing the muscles. I also take the time to rock side to side pushing my knee over each ankle to ensure I have adequate range for the exercise I will be doing.
How to warm up and why
  • Squat – This is the first exercise in my lower body session today. I always begin with no weight on the bar, gradually increasing the weights after each set until I reach the maximum weight I will be using that day.
How to warm up and why

Conclusion

As you can see my warm up has a few different components to it. It isn’t perfect, it isn’t going to be good for everyone, but it works for me and addresses what I need it to before I begin my lower body session. I am a Power-lifter, so the movements and exercises that I am doing are specific to my training. It takes into consideration areas that I will be using during the workout and does so without fatiguing me before I get into the real work. Finding the best warm up for you will be a matter of trial and error, you may find benefit from some things and no benefit from others. However, as long as the end goal remains the same, that is, to prepare the body for what you will be doing during your workout, you will be doing far more good than harm.


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