The purpose of a warm up is to gradually increase your heart rate. Warming up prepares your heart and circulatory system for the increased demand that exercise puts on it. This provides the muscles with the proper blood flow they need to perform in an exercise session. A warm up is typically accomplished with a low to moderate level of cardiovascular movement or body weight exercise.
Our muscle fibers are like rubber bands, they stretch and contract. If you start your workout with lifting heavy weights when your muscles are cold there is heightened risk of injury. Like rubber bands our muscle fibers can tear under enough stress, especially when they are cold. Our muscles will not perform efficiently can easily be compromised if they are not properly warmed up for exercise.
Warming up prior to exercise is critical to reduce your risk of injury. Injuries will only slow progress toward your fitness goals. Warming up can reduce muscular soreness and tightness. Dynamic warm ups activate your central nervous system and increase circulation to the muscles which will improve your exercise performance. Warming up has many benefits and adds a minimal amount of time to your workout session.
Warm ups act as lube for our joints and ligaments. It can facilitate joint health which improves range of motion and flexibility. Proper range of motion is important to exercise because it allows us to perform each movement to its fullest capacity. When we properly warm up before exercise it reduces the stress on our joint, ligaments, and tendons making exercise much more enjoyable. Warming up is vital to fully activate our bodies for exercise.
Warm up ideas:
Riding a bike
Body weight squats
These are only a few of the many many ways to warm up. Body weight movements can facilitate an adequate warm up. I recommend warming up the same body parts that you are targeting for that exercise session. For example, If I am planning on doing an upper body strength training day I would choose warm up exercises that warm up my upper body. I may choose to warm up with arm circles, pushups, jumping jacks, pull ups and/or burpees. These body weight exercises can help your body warmup prior to an upper body exercise session.
The length of the warm up session can vary depending on various factors. Typically a warm up is between 5-20 minutes. However the temperature of the environment, humidity, your hydration level and/or medications you are on can have an effect on your warm up. On a hot day your warm up may be only 5 minutes. If the weather is really cold it may take you 20 minutes to warm your body for exercise. My suggestion is to continue warming up until you feel your muscles are ready to perform the programmed exercises.
Warming up is a very valuable part of any exercise routine. It allows the cardiovascular system, muscle and joints to adjust to the demands of exercise. Warming up can lead to increased performance during exercise. A successful workout session begins with a great warm up.