So, you have finally psyched yourself up for a healthier 2019 and what better to achieve that goal than with a head start. With two days to go before the start of the new year, you cast aside your bag of Doritos, got off the couch, grabbed your brand-new pair of Adidas Yeezys that you snapped up for a bargain during Christmas sale, tied the laces on your new sweetheart and walked right out the door faster than you can say Kanye.
You finally arrived at the glorious House of Gains and burst through the entrance like Lara Croft raiding a tomb, looking dead set to clock in a dynamic and vivacious sweat session to lose those extra pounds. With your motivation and enthusiasm level at an all-time high, you wasted no time getting your sets underway. But what about your warm up?
Well, before you snort away while rolling your eyes and think that warm-ups are for the weak or overly enthusiastic, we urge you to hold that thought for a moment and keep reading to understand why warm-ups are crucial prior to your workout.
What Constitutes A Warm Up?
The act of wiggling your ankles with your hands firmly clutched onto your hips, which many of you were guilty of during your Physical Education lessons back in primary and secondary school, is definitely not considered a warm-up.
The entire function of a warm-up is to increase the temperature of your body and prime up your nervous, respiratory, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems for the strenuous workout that lies ahead. It is basically a low-intensity activity that shields your body from a sudden shock when you finally hit your first proper set.
Why Warming Up Is Vital
Have you ever woken up in the morning only to feel stiff when trying to get yourself out of bed? No, it is not the Monday blues. Rather, it is partly because your body and its muscles have cooled during the course of the night, affecting your flexibility and mobility of your joints.
A proper warm up before any sort of activity or exercise can offer you physiological as well as psychological benefits. It triggers your heart to pump blood vigorously to your muscles and other parts of your body, resulting in an increase in temperature. Warm muscles not only improve elasticity, but also contract more intensely and relaxes more rapidly. The increase in muscle temperature effectively lowers the chances of you pulling out midway through your set due to a muscle or tendon injury.
Furthermore, a good warm-up stimulates heat-dissipation mechanisms that allow your body to cool more proficiently and effectively prevent complications such as overheating or heat stroke. At the same time, several natural hormones, such as epinephrine and cortisol, are also produced during a warm up to convert the carbohydrate and fatty acids stored in your body into energy.
Hold on, there’s more. A proper warm-up does more than just priming your body for strenuous activities ahead — it mentally psyches you up for whatever you are attempting next, from deadlifting on the Olympic rack to fighting bears naked in the cold winter. Warming up essentially helps your mind to focus and relieves any nervous tension in you, enabling you to bring out your A-game for the task ahead.
Warm Up Tips
Depending on your personal fitness level, warm up routines can vary in terms of duration and intensity. Generally, your warm-up should be at a slow and easy pace without feeling any fatigue but just enough to break into a mild sweat. Here are three basic guidelines you can adhere to if you are someone new to warm up exercises:
1. Keep It Short And Simple
Warm-ups need not be lengthy. In fact, a low-level exercise lasting between five and ten minutes is adequate before you turn on the beast mode and ramp up the intensity for your actual callisthenics routine. If you want to increase your chances of avoiding a muscle pull, this is the perfect time to squeeze in some stretching exercises as your muscles are nicely warmed.
2. Tailor Your Warm-Up To Your Exercise
Your warm-up should somewhat shadow the movements of your main activity that follows suit. For instance, if you are preparing yourself for a run in the park, your warm-up exercise should include a short low-pace jog. If it happens to be your legs day, prime up your quads with a couple of lightweight leg extensions before heading to the squat rack to sculpt your bum away. The idea is to progressively step up the intensity, so your body can seamlessly adapt to the next vigorous phase of your workout.
Numerous psychological studies have shown that visualising how you are going to conquer the court or canvas with a vivid mental imagery can improve your actual performance significantly. So, close your eyes, get in the zone and take a good deep breath before starting your warm up and thereafter, focusing on your workout all the way to the finish line.