But seriously, do you even warm-up? Most people want to get to the gym and complete their workout as fast as they can so they can get on with their day, which usually means people put little time into their warm-up or skip it altogether. People also tend to finish their workout and head out the door without stretching or doing a proper cool-down. You really should be doing a good dynamic warm-up before workouts and a good cool-down with stretching and mobility work after your workouts. Today, let’s talk about why warming up is so important.
Why Do I Need To Warm-Up?
A good dynamic warm-up, also called dynamic stretching, will increase your body’s core temperature, decrease your risk of injury, and improve your performance overall. It will increase range of motion and blood and oxygen flow to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments before they are called upon to do a serious workout. Dynamic stretching allows for greater range of motion by progressively loosening your muscles and lubricating the joints, which eases the stress on the joints and tendons and therefore prevents injury.
What Is Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching?
Dynamic stretching is where you take your body through ranges of motion that will better prepare you for the movements you are going to be doing in your workout or sport. It also includes doing movements that slowly increase your heart rate while warming your muscles and joints. Static stretching is holding a stretch for a period of time to relax and lengthen the muscles. This is not recommended before workouts because your muscles and joints are not warm yet, which can lead to injury. Static stretches are good to do in your cool downs when your muscles are warm and loose and able to stretch farther and longer.
How Do I Do a Good Dynamic Warm-Up?
Start with about 5 minutes of light aerobic activity like a light run, elliptical, or row to gradually increase your heart rate, followed by 5 minutes of stretching focused on the type of movements you will be doing in your workout. For example, if you are going to be doing deadlifts, back squats, or maybe some jumping in your workout, then you want to warm up with some good core, hip, gluteal, quadricep and hamstring movements, because those are the main large muscle groups you are going to be working and loading with weight. Some examples of dynamic stretches you could do would be air squats (squatting with no weight), leg swings, Spiderman crawls, and bear walks.
If you are going to be doing upper-body work or weightlifting like push-ups and pull-ups or overhead weightlifting like push presses, you are going to want to warm up your shoulders, back, and core to prepare those muscle groups and joints for those movements. Examples would be shoulder rolls, arm circles, and light push-ups. If your workout is going be something like running, sprinting, or cycling, do those same things in your warm-up at a slower pace and with a lower impact. Most workouts will include both upper-body and lower-body work, so you will want to do a good, full-body dynamic warm-up.
What Are Some Examples of Dynamic Warm-up Movements?
Other examples of dynamic warm-up movements include lunge walks, inch-worms, leg swings, knee-to-chest stretches, arm circles, push-ups, and pretty much any other bodyweight movement that incorporates a certain degree of flexibility, strength, and range of motion. Click here for some examples of good dynamic exercises and a full-body warm-up you can do before any workout.
How Long Should A Warm-up Be?
A good warm-up should be about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your age, fitness ability, and whether you have any injuries or tight areas that you need to spend more time on. Listen to your body and don’t begin your workout until you feel like you are warm and loose.
Your Fitness RX: Make sure to do a good dynamic warm-up before you begin any physical activity to help you not only avoid injury but perform better in your workouts. It’s worth taking the time to do and your body will thank you!