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An Easy, Quick and Effective Warm up Approach

With cooler days and lower temperatures, the tissues in our body get colder. It's important to warm the body up, particularly before sinking your teeth into a workout. A good warm up in the gym is essential to remain safe and actually implement an effective workout. A great ten minute routine at the beginning of your workout won't eliminate the possibility injury, however it will certainly lower your chances. The way we warm up is essential to how well we can perform our workout or competition. Let's breakdown the purpose of a warm up, the benefits and finally what it could look like.



I believe that a warm up has both general and task specific purposes. You would implement a task specific component when your workout involves for example, heavier loaded movements. Your warm up is not only going to prepare your body for general exercise by promoting blood flow, increasing your temperature and encouraging elasticity in general, it is also going to warm up the parts of the body required to perform the heavier loaded movement(s).


Physiological Benefits

Lets break down some of the general physiological benefits of a warm up and what this may look or feel like for you.


● Slowly elevates your heart rate, blood pressure (systolic) and stroke volume (amount heart pumps out). Increasing the demands on the heart in a graduated fashion.

● Your breathing rate increases promoting blood flow and encouraging the muscles required to breath to expand.

● There is a release of enzymes which helps gas exchange in your lunges and body tissues.

● Peripheral diffusion (fancy way of saying there is an increase of blood flow to working muscles in your limbs).

● Your organs used for digestion are not required for exercise and are therefore (temporarily) shut down. Your blood is instead diverted to your working muscles. The brain receives the same or slightly more blood flow (This is a good thing !).

● There is a temperature increase in your working tissues via friction and blood flow which, decreases tonic stiffness in your muscles and allows them to move more freely.

● Your nervous system is ‘awakened’. It is ready for the workout to start and the movement patterns to be used during your workout are activated (task specific component of warm up).



Psychological Benefits

Now that we have covered the physiological benefits, lets explore some of the psychological benefits.


● Your warm up brings clarity of thought to the task at hand (quieting non relevant thoughts and enhancing your focus).

● Helps you get ready to rock and roll in the gym.


By now, hopefully you have been convinced of why warming up is important and are eager to hear how you can do this next time you are in the gym.

Firstly you want to get your body temperature up by going for a brisk walk, jog, row or even shadow boxing. There are many options for light cardio. I would suggest 6-8 minutes.

Then, in more demanding situations, specific movement preparation is required to prepare your muscles, tendons and joint structures to be used. Let's assume that squatting with relatively heavy weights is a part of your workout. Doing full bodyweight squats, stretching your calves and hip opener exercises would be helpful movements to prepare your body. It is important to note the more demanding the task the more warming into it may be required.



Warm Up Examples

You are probably wondering what a comprehensive warm up may contain so, let me give you three examples.


Workout: Medium pace 30 min jog on the treadmill.

Warm up:

  • Do tip toe walk for the first few meters.

  • Followed by a brisk walk on an incline for 2 mins.

  • Then jog slowly for a couple of minutes.

  • Finally, stretch your calves, grab a drink and start your workout.


Workout: Upper body weight training session.

Warm up:

  • First warm up the body and joints (hips, shoulders and elbows especially) 1000m on the rower should do, starting off slow and finishing faster.

  • Perform 2 sets of 15 reps cable face pulls, and light dumbbell rows.

  • Perform 2 sets of 10 press ups with changing hand positions and tempo.

  • Using a band or long(ish) stick to roll the hands up and over the head can open the shoulders.

  • Then a couple of light sets on your first exercise of choice

  • Now you are sufficiently ready to get stuck in.


Workout: Lower body day.

Warm up:

Opening the hips via sitting in a squat position would be good

Completing a couple of light sets on the leg extension and leg curl can activate the muscles.

Then a couple of lighter slower sets of 12 goblet squats.

Now you are good to go for it.



Final Words

These are just examples. There are a variety of different warm up movements you can choose from and this will depend a lot on what your workout entails and what you feel comfortable doing. Generally, the warm up movements will be gentle and mimic the movements you plan to do in your workout. You will notice that the examples above are dynamic movements rather than static stretching. Modern thinking indicates that this could potentially lessen the ability to produce force safely. These stretches are best done after your workout or on your rest and recovery days.


Remember when you see athletes at the Olympic games lift hundreds of kilos above their

heads it's the culmination of thousands of hours of training. They warm up behind the curtain on different, complex, weighted lifts and movements, making sure to narrow their focus for that one window of opportunity on the stage.


Summary

I have shared a lot of information and some complex ideas around the physiological benefits of warming up. You have done well to stick with me this long. So, let me summarise things in checklist form.

✅ Warm your tissue/muscles

✅ Increase your heart rate

✅ Focus your mind

✅ Perform some relevant movements that mimic your workout, and before maxing those lifts.

✅ Older or less trained bodies may need a bit more warming up!


As always yours in good health.

Shane.

centralfitness.temuka@gmail.com

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