You may have questioned whether warming up was really necessary and never pursued the answer, but it’s one that most trainers get asked frequently. Once you understand the role that the warm up plays in your workout, you’ll agree that it’s really important and while you may still hate doing it, won’t neglect it when you’re starting your routine. Just as important as warming up is the cool down phase. Another addition to a workout that people often feel is useless, but is extremely important.
Why warm up?
Warming up for maximum exertion is extremely important if you want to get the most benefit from the workout and avoid injury. A good warm up will let you get the most out of your workout and leave you feeling satisfied and like you did a great job with the most benefit. There’s a reason it’s called a warm up. It raises the core temperature of the body. It also increases your heart rate and sends blood flowing to every muscle in the body, alerting the nervous system to prepare the brain for stress.
You need the increased temperature to get the maximum benefit from the exercise.
As the blood surges into the muscles, the increased core temperature warms the blood and increases their temperature, too. That prepares them for the tough workout ahead. The warmer temperature increases the effectiveness of the shortening and lengthening process muscles undergo in a workout. If they’re not warm or functioning at their best, it increases the potential for injury from muscle tears and pulls.
Dynamic stretching is the best possible warm-up.
It’s not just warming up, but the type of warming up you do that counts, too. If you’re standing in place, touching your toes and holding for ten seconds, you’re doing static stretching. That’s not the best type of warm-up. Dynamic stretching keeps you moving while you’re stretching, which helps circulation and increases the core temperature faster. It’s a more active form of warming up that boosts blood flow and gets the brain and body ready to work. Static stretching actually tends to relax muscles and reduce blood flow, so they’re far better as a cool down exercise.
- For dynamic stretches, think jumping rope, agility drills and jogging. For static stretches, think touching your toes and holding, side bends and hamstring stretches.
- Dynamic stretches used as a warm up increase your range of motion and make you not only feel more limber, but actually be more limber.
- Studies show dynamic warm ups can actually help athletes perform better. Studies compared performance after no warm up, static stretching and dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching improved performance.
- Dynamic stretching warm ups tend to activate more muscles, since you’re moving as you’re stretching. That prepares your entire body better for the workout ahead.