Warm Up before you exercise. You’ve heard it many times. Maybe you do, sometimes you don’t. How important is warming up, really? What makes up a good warm up? Do you stretch? Jog? Jumping Jacks?
Why You Warm Up
Warming up before exercise is important for many reasons. Physically, it prepares your muscles, tissues, tendons for work you’re about to do. Mentally, it prepares you, your attitude, thoughts, for battle. Some things a good warm up can provide:
- Decreased likelihood of injury
- Temperature increase
- Metabolic increase
- Increased blood and oxygen flow
- More active nervous system
How You Warm Up
This is less straightforward than why you should warm up, but not too difficult. The way you warm up is based on a few factors:
- Should be exercise specific: If you’re going to deadlift, warm up with deadlifts. If you’re going to squat, warm up with squats
- Amount of warm up should match exercise complexity: The more complex an activity, the more warming up you should do. If you’re going to run, not much warm up is required. If you’re going to do cleans you’ll need at least a few warm up sets.
- Stretching can be beneficial or detrimental depending on type of stretching and activity to be performed
Warm Up Tips
- The ideal environmental temperature for performance is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. So if it’s colder than that outside or in your gym make sure to use layers of clothes that you can remove and add to maintain your body temperature.
- For strength training, over-warm up to get stronger. When warming up, gradually pyramid the weight up, but instead of stopping at your working weight and doing your work sets, warm up with a weight higher than your working weight, but not more than your 1 RM. Try one or 2 sets of a few reps at this weight, before doing your work sets. The heavier weight will activate your nervous system even more and different muscle fibers.