By Greg Schroeder, MPT
Well not exactly, but I bet I got your attention.
Should I warm up before exercise? Do I need to warm up before exercise? What does a warm up do for me?
The answer to these questions are YES and YES if you want to perform at your best. The answer to the last question and the focus of this short article will explain the answers to questions one and two.
A warm up gets you (your body) ready for whatever it is you are going to do. Aerobic activity like running, biking….or strength training…… or a combination….CrossFit.
How does a warm up do this? Taken right from Villanova.edu/health promotion (simple explanation)
- A warm up raises the temperature of your body and increases blood flow to the muscles to help prevent injury and allow the muscles to work optimally.
- A warm up primes the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons for the forces and range of motion about to be encountered in the workout.
- A warm up stimulates the nervous system, preparing the body for competition-specific activities.
So what is a warm up? Simply put, it is a less intense version of the activity you are about to perform. If you are going to walk as fast as you are comfortable for your workout then you walk at a slower pace until you break a sweat then follow this with some area specific stretches like hamstring, lower leg and quadriceps stretching and you are ready to go. If your workout is going to be a run start with a walk and gradually increase to a light jog until you break a sweat then a few active stretches and you are ready for your run. If you are doing strength training then you start with light resistance in the exercise you are going to perform. Working on perfect technique during the warm up helps the body learn the proper movement patterns and sets you up to add resistance. I am going to add one more thing to the warm up for strength training. I have been a competitive powerlifter since high school and have had some excellent coaching in high school and college and one thing that was always part of our workouts no matter what we were training was DO TWICE AS MANY WARM UP SETS AS WORKING SETS. So if the workout was going to be three working sets, you did six warm up sets to get to your starting weight. I do not know if there is any science behind this warm up procedure, but it came from both my high school and college coaches and I have followed it and I am not dead, so it must work.
A warm up allows the body systems to come online in preparation for activity. It does not need to be complicated just break a sweat and add some active stretches. You will see what works best for you and your activities and make adjustments as needed.