Why to do an adequate warm up?
The best way to warm up prior to participating in an exercise session, would be to engage in some form of traditional cardiovascular exercise for a few minutes and then we are good to train, right?
Well not entirely true. Whilst doing some form of cardiovascular exercise to warm up your body’s systems can help, it is not the best way that we can prepare our body for the upcoming exercise program.
“An adequate warm up should focus on preparing the body for the specific movements it will be performing in the workout session”
To do this we need to stimulate the neuromuscular pathways (just a fancy way of saying the relationship between your brain and your muscles) that we are going to use.
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- The best way to do this is by mimicking the movements or exercises that we will eventually do in a safe and controlled manner. We can also perform some of the exercises whilst reducing the range of what we intend to do in the exercise program.
We can mimic the exercises using no weights (i.e. no dumbbells, bands or kettlebells) and slowing the movement down and only doing half range repetitions.
For example, if we intend to do some lower body exercises we can warm-up by doing some lunges but only go halfway down and halfway up. This way we are not placing any stress on both muscles and joints on a body or part that is still relatively cold.
As we progress through the warm-up we can increase the tempo of each repetition. This will allow our heart rate, and respiration (breathing rate) gradually increase in preparation.
I generally don’t advocate for static stretching as part of a warm up, as your muscles and body tissues are still relatively cool. Think of taking a piece of blue-tac out of the freezer and immediately trying to stretch and contort it in different angles?! Well it wouldn’t work and your muscles wouldn’t like it either and they can actually go in to spasm causing them to shorten causing pain and a dysfunctional body movement pattern
If we intend to do an exercise session that consists of predominantly of cardiovascular exercise, such as running swimming, sure we want to get the heart rate up prior to training but do it gradually and controlled. You should stil be able to hold a conversation during a cardio warm up.
*Most times I exercise, I train the whole body, so instead of warming up particular body parts and muscles, I take myself through various body movements that essentially get the body unit moving as a whole ready for the exercise programs ahead. So the warm up sequence I do prior to exercising doesn’t change much and it could be boring for some, but most importantly:
- It’s Safe
- It’s effective
- And it works!
Heath Jones is the founder of Active & Ageless and has over 20 years’ experience in the Health & Wellness space.
He holds the following qualifications:
Bachelor of Nursing
Postgraduate in Exercise Science
Diploma of OHS
Cert 3 & 4 Fitness
Cert 4 Training & Assessment
Older Adults trainer