By: Dr. Sean Miller
Listen, I get it. You have a number of reasons why you never want to warm-up and jump straight into your workout.
You only have so much time.
You do not want your warm-up to take away energy from the workout.
I have never had an injury by NOT warming up, so what is the point?
Many would suggest that warming up is usually the least enjoyable part of their workout. They want to hit the workout, fast and hard, and move on with their day knowing that they managed to get a little bit of fitness under our belts. Before you pull the trigger and start “getting after it”, take a moment to read through my message so you can move forward making an informed decision.
What happens if I don't warm-up?
Can lead to excessive muscle soreness
Limited range of motion as you move
Stress on your joints due to poor body mechanics and abnormal muscle pull
Injury that can potentially sideline you from performing your normal fitness activities
Benefits of a Good Warm-Up:
It will raise your body temperature
When we wake up and get moving, we tend to notice we feel a little more rigid, stiff, or limited. Same principle applies when walking from your car into your local fitness center. Think about this, would you jump out of bed and start loading yourself up with weights? Would more of you tell me. “Dr. Sean…that is CRAZY. I have a routine I follow to get my day going.” You know what else is a routine to prepare you for an activity. Yep, you guessed it…a warm-up!
By warming-up prior to more intensive physical activity we are raising our body temperature. This also increases the temperature of our muscles, allowing for them to become more pliable and ready to work. Also, more oxygen begins to flow to our muscles which will allow us to workout more efficiently and safely.
One of the most important muscles in our body is also warming up and preparing for the work ahead…your heart. As most of you know, the heart is needed to pump blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your muscles to promote work over a prolonged time.
Warm-up based on your workout routine:
Most of the standard lifts that we perform in the gym are based on functional movements. They all require practicing your technique.
For example, if your workout consists of performing squats, use your warm-up time to practice your squatting technique. Be sure to practice your setup position, keep chest up, keep knees out, and hips dropping down and back.
Try to avoid warming up with a fully loaded bar until you have completed a set or so of practice repetitions first.
If you cannot perform the movement correctly without weight, then you DEFINITELY do not want to add weight until your body mechanics are on point.
Improves your flexibility and mobility (to reduce injuries)
As you warm-up, you are stretching and elongating your muscles. This will increase your flexibility, and in turn, allow you to move through a larger range of motion.
Warming up gets you in the correct mindset
Warming up helps with the fatigue, feelings of exhaustion, and the “I’d rather go home and veg out” thoughts. Lets face it, you already took the hardest first step. You laced up your shoes, drove to the gym, and crossed the threshold to tackle your workout.
After a few warm-up reps/minutes, you will begin to notice more mental clarity due to improved oxygenation and blood flow allowing you to “get after it”.
Fight the nay-sayer in your head telling you “I Don’t Want to Wear Myself Out…”
All things considering, a warm up should NOT wear you out. In fact, you should feel more energized and focused in order to approach your workout routine. Think of a warm up as starting your car after it has been sitting in the cold all night. If you want all the components of your car to perform to their optimal level, you need to allow them to warm up. If we run that car cold…undue stress can cause your vehicle to break down faster and not perform.
To note, your warm-up should never be more intense than your actual workout. So if your workout consists of Bulgarian split squats, consider performing a standard lunge as part of your warm up.
The Big Takeaway:
View a warm up as an essential part of your workout routine as it will set the foundation for your body to optimally perform.
Start with 5-10 minutes of light activity
Consider adding technique training to your warm up routine (i.e. bodyweight squats)
Warm ups can reduce injury and prepare your mind for the workout ahead.
A warm up is not just adding “fluff” to your routine. It has value and it will set your body up for the hard work ahead. Ease into it and see how much your fitness level will progress!