Many health experts recommend warming up before performing any type of physical activity. The main purpose of warm-ups is to prevent your body from getting any minor or major injuries and improve overall performance.
Warm-ups work well before physical activity as it increases the body’s core and muscle temperature. Warming up your muscles can boost your body’s energy production as well; as a result, it may increase your reflexes and decrease the time it takes to contract a single muscle.
A functional warm-up should increase your range of motion and mentally prepare you for your workout. Moreover, the kind of warm-up you need to perform should be based on the particular type of exercise you are about to perform.
Also, your warm-up routine is suggested to be full-body despite only planning to work out a few muscle groups. For example, if you only plan to do a leg workout, you must still do a set of warm-up movements involving lower-body exercises and a few upper-body or full-body exercises.
Dynamic warm-up for injury prevention and performance
An ideal warm-up must follow a set of multiple dynamic exercises, which involve continuously increasing intensity as you get closer to your workout. Dynamic exercises help you to stretch through a full range of motion while the stretch is not held in the ending position.
On the other hand, static stretching or the usual stretching is held in the ending position, which limits the blood flow to the muscle, making it ineffective for a warm-up routine.
Also, static stretches are recommended to be performed post-workout when you cool down. Static stretching is suitable for increasing flexibility; however, it is not very supportive of the meaning of a warm-up .
When you warm up, you must start with simple, gentle exercises that help increase your body’s core and muscle temperature, but eventually should progress to dynamic stretches, causing an increase in your end range of motion.
During warm-ups, your heart rate will be increasingly elevating as a way to prepare you for exercise.
For instance, you can start with walking for a few minutes and then progress to a jog. After jogging, your heart rate is expected to elevate, and muscle temperature rise within only a few minutes.
From there, you begin to perform dynamic stretches, such as knee hugs, Frankensteins, walking quad stretches or lunge and twist.
Why is warming up crucial?
1. Prepares muscles for a workout
Warm-ups can raise the body temperature, which particularly contributes to muscle preparation. When your muscle temperature increases, oxygen becomes more beneficial to your muscles. Proper oxygen is needed by the muscles to contract and relax more freely.
With increased muscle temperature, your body can perform more strenuous physical activity with ease. Also, your heart is then given a chance to prepare, which means that it will not be that strained while working out.
2. Improves muscle elasticity
Going to the gym and doing workout routines are all for the good of your body. Hence, the very last thing you would want is to get injuries.
Warming up is specifically designed and developed to pair with your workout. It aids in improving muscle elasticity and allows your muscle to have an efficient cooling period, resulting in less chance of accidentally hurting yourself or overheating while you are working out.
3. Prepares you mentally
Going straight to your workout routines without having enough time to prepare yourself can throw you off completely, especially if the needed preparation is more mental rather than physical.
Without proper warm-up, you may find yourself having less motivation and easy to get tired when the workout sets become more challenging.
You can truly extend your overall workout performance by warming up your body, most especially muscles and joints, before carrying heavy weights or doing strenuous physical activity.
To prepare yourself mentally, you can simultaneously use your time warming up and thinking about your workout plans–this can guarantee you have both your body and mind ready to achieve your fitness goals.
4. Boosts flexibility
Generally, stretching is often linked to enhanced flexibility, and it is a great addition to a warm-up routine. When you do stretching, you allow your body to increase blood flow within your muscles, increasing flexibility in both the short and long term.
Moreover, there is always a plus when it comes to the proper execution of a workout or exercise. Stretching after you have already performed your warm-up is not recommended. When you do stretching and your muscles are not properly warmed up, you are at a high risk of several injuries.
5. Prepares to tackle the heavy-duty machines
Building more muscles can be achieved by using machines at the gym; however, you must do that after you loosen up your joints.
Warming up makes sure your body and mind are both in sync and in the right state to handle different gym equipment and workout routines, which again may reduce your risk of injury.
Your workout preparation must also include the use of suitable equipment for the sets you plan to perform.
The common warm-up exercises you may follow, as recommended by many health experts, are the following:
- Arm swings, lunges and squats
- Cycling, whether at the gym or outside
- Jogging on the spot for several minutes or running on the treadmill
- Fast-paced side stepping
- Fast-paced walking
- Walking up and down the stairs
You can simply do your workout at a much slower pace to ready your body . In fact, the benefits of warming up before exercising or working out are well-studied in the field.
Warming up can aid in achieving fitness goals at the gym. It is clear that fitness gurus, gym rats, or those simply trying to improve their health should not overlook warming up.
What happens if you don’t warm up?
If you are not warming up appropriately or do not actually perform any before exercising, there are several health consequences that you may put yourself on, such as the following:
High risk of injury
One major risk factor if you are not warming up properly before exercise is a high risk of injury. Without a warm-up, your muscles are left cold and stiff, which are more prone to strains, sprains and tears. Cold muscles are less pliable and more likely to experience tears when under stress.
Warm-ups allow your body to have an increased blood flow to the muscles, which may result in increased temperature.
An increased blood flow and temperature can support your muscles to become more pliable, lowering the risk of injury.
Numerous health professionals have deeply studied the benefits of warm-up protocols that concern injury risks.
Experiencing injuries is one big risk factor in both general fitness and sports, so any way of lessening injury risk is highly valuable.
A 2022 meta-analysis study found that warming-up programs can lessen the incidents of sports injuries . Meanwhile, the earlier study also suggests the same conclusions .
Although certain studies did not conclude with the same findings, there is still relevant evidence from published studies that support the use of warm-ups to lower injury risk during physical activity. Consequently, when you skip warming up can increase the risk of injury.
Poor physical performance
When you do not warm up, your overall physical performance becomes poor because a body that is cold and stiff is less efficient at producing energy.
Not warming up can result in less energy to be used during your workout, which may result in lowered physical performance. Warming up helps promote blood flow to the muscles, which in turn helps increase the body’s temperature.
Warm-ups boost healthy blood flow and temperature, which improves the efficiency of the muscles, allowing you to perform at your best.
Aside from protecting you from getting injuries, warming up before your workout also plays a direct role in increasing your performance.
With the significant interest in maximizing athletic performance, numerous studies have certainly looked into the matter.
For instance, a 2010 meta-analysis found that over 79 percent of studies on the relationship between warming up and physical performance revealed that warming up may lead to improved performance in various activities .
High risk of muscle soreness
Generally, muscle soreness can be experienced after progress in fitness. However, there is no harm in reducing soreness and its corresponding discomfort by performing side-effect-free methods, especially warming up.
Warming up can promote blood flow to the muscles, and the body temperature can help lessen muscle soreness.
While you can’t fully remove soreness by doing a warm-up, a 2012 study indicates that an aerobic warm-up can help in reducing muscle soreness, especially in areas of each muscle that are closer to your body .
Easily get tired
Skipping warm-ups before exercise can cause you to get tired easily. Having a cold and stiff body can’t give your body the kick it needs need to complete your sets. Hence, putting soothing heat on your muscles helps them jumpstart as you start your intense workout.
Warm-ups are completely necessary before doing any physical activity as it generally increases the body’s core and muscle temperature, which may positively impact your overall athletic performance.