Is It A Waste Of Time To Warm Up Before Exercising?
When I’m in the trenches and my coaching hat is on, it’s my job to ensure that the client or trainee is safely taken through a training session from start to finish. I check technique, subjective exertion, ability to perform an exercise safely and overall condition of the person.
Not only that – I need to educate the client that a warm up is damn good idea if you want to train for a long, long, long time!
So is it worth warming up before exercise? For me, skipping it ain’t even an option!
Doing a warm up, or doing warm up sets (especially before big compound movements like the squat, deadlift and bench press) are absolutely necessary. The same goes for cardio as well.
Watch any sport on TV, and you’ll see athletes going through the motions to get their body ready to perform. Heck, even F1 racers need to warm up their tyres or they’ll end up in the wall!
So I grimace when I see people in the gym go straight into their routine without a second thought to do some leg swings, shoulder stick rotations, or a few deep squats. Please don't be one of these people, you''ll thank me for it down the road.
I have three different mobility routines that will target your shoulders, hips and back - you can grab a copy from me if you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right, let me tell why the process of a warm-up is vital to your training:
1. Gets you in the zone
People have busy loves and there's never really any time to switch off your brain and focus on yourself.
That is unless you are training.
All thoughts need to be put aside and go into the next 30/60/90 minutes you have set aside to train. By taking the time to go through the motions, you temporarily leave behind your life, and enter a realm of self-improvement and betterment, which as woo woo as it sounds, pretty much sums up what your mindset should be going in to your performance.
Yes, training should be fun. But it also should be taken seriously so that you can enjoy it without the need to miss out because you banged up!
2. You prep your system
Some of you train after work, which means that some of you have probably been sitting at your desk all day before you even lace up your trainers.
The problem with going straight into exercise is that your body is not ready to jump straight in and needs priming.
Tendons. Ligaments, joints. You need to ensure they are protected at all times. Being seated all day or feeling like a picnic table will only add to the issue because you will not be able to correctly perform a movement because your hips are jarred or your hamstrings are preventing you from reaching a decent range of motion.
Loosen up the system by effectively warming up and greatly reducing the risk of injury.
3. Teaches correct technique
A sure fire way to enter the realm of injury is incorrect exercise technique.Especially if you are going to completing some complex moves like the squat or deadlift.
So avoid this by doing the movement you want to do, but with lighter weight. Probably not as necessary for bicep curls or calf raises, but defintely advised for multi-muscle and multi-joint patterns.
4. It gives you feedback as to how you are feeling on the day
This is what is going to separate you from 95% of other people who train. They ignore the signs during warm up, do it anyway and get themselves into all soets of problems and end up injured or broken.
Being mindful during your warm up will give you feedback to determine if you are at 100% of if you need to strip your intensity back a bit.
So what should you do?
At a minimum, you want to do at least 5-10 minutes mobility before you train, and then 2-4 warm up sets before you lift anything heavy. 5 minutes at a low intensity prior to cardio will also be a good idea.
(You also want to cool down at the end of your training by doing some static stretching or foam rolling, but that's for another time.)
Want another reason to properly warm-up? Then I’ll leave you with this:
warming up is part of the process and should not be taken as an optional part of your training career. Take the time to mobilise your body and centre your mind on the task at hand.
Make it an integral part of your training – you’ll thank me for it later down the line when you’re still able to train while your banged up mate is wondering what went wrong.
The moment you stat behaving like an athlete will be the moment you start looking like one!
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