Internationally, on average, only 15% of people go to gyms. Whereas, 35% percent of the population says they exercise at least once a week. With low penetration of the organized fitness industry, this essentially means that a large population indulges in exercising without required coaching/guidance. Most people don’t know how to warm up before a workout and more importantly that they need to do so.
Workouts are healthy but without proper knowledge of how to warm up and cool down, working out might cause harm in the long term. Irrespective of your choice of workout, every fitness expert will tell you that it is extremely important to warm up before and cool down afterward.
Yet, most people decide to ignore the warm-up and cool down as they feel it isn’t required. People jump straight to the workout. This is not because they hate doing a warm-up routine but instead, they like to save time by just avoiding them. Another reason is that there are a number of warm-up-related myths floating around.
Busting the Warm-up myths
Myth #1 – There is a perception that by skipping warm-up they might lose just a few benefits of the workout. They don’t realize that they are not losing any benefit or efficiency but may actually be causing harm to their bodies by doing so.
Myth #2 – Another perception is that warm-up is for athletes or people who engage in high-intensity exercises. And therefore one engaging in light exercises doesn’t need any warm-up. This is a convenient assumption that people make to avoid warming up their body before a workout. Whether an exercise is light or intense it is putting more-than-usual pressure on your muscular system. Hence, a warm-up is a must irrespective of your choice of workout.
Myth #3 – A brisk walk or light running doesn’t require warm-up as it is a warm-up in itself. This myth harms the majority of the population, especially those who don’t have a defined routine. A warm-up is for your entire body which includes your cardiovascular system also and not just the muscles. There is no replacement for something important like stretching.
Benefits of a warm-up before workout
Warming-up exercises are done at a slower pace and at reduced intensity. Warm-up is like heating up your food before eating. It helps prepare your body for the stress on your muscles that is going to follow.
It gradually boosts your cardiovascular system by increasing your body temperature and increasing blood flow in your muscles. It also helps reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury.
Cooling down is an equally important step of a workout session, especially for competitive endurance athletes. It helps in a gradual recovery of heart rate and blood pressure. But we will talk about cooling down later, right now let’s get on with the warm-up
How to warm up before workout?
First and foremost, it is to be done just before your workout, prolonged rest after warming up does no good. A good warm-up exercise is focused on large muscle groups, such as your hamstrings. Then you can do exercises more specific to your sport or activity.
For a warm-up, you perform an activity and movement pattern of your choice at a slow pace and gradually increase the speed and intensity. This might come with a little bit of sweat but it won’t make you feel fatigued.
For warm-up activities:
- To warm up for a brisk walk, walk slowly for 5 to 10 minutes.
- To warm up for a run, walk briskly for 5 to 10 minutes.
- To warm up for swimming, swim slowly at first and then pick up the tempo as you’re able.
- To warm up for weight training choose an activity similar to your main activity but with lesser weight and at a lower intensity. Then perform several light repetitions of the strength-training exercise to prepare your body for the real weight.
I would re-iterate for the sake of emphasis, if you are doing weight training or any other intense workout, the key to warming up is choosing the main activity as warm-up activity as that warms up the right muscle groups.
Warm-up cream (from Deep heat, Madform, Muc-Off, Booster Gel, Sportique, Akileine, etc)
Foam Rollers (from Decathlon, Strauss, Quirk, Bodylastics, Pummelo, etc)
What follows a warm-up?
You should not jump to your main activity after a warm-up. Always follow it up with 3-4 minutes of stretching. It helps improve flexibility and range of motion of joints. Stretching may also help improve your performance in some activities by allowing your joints to move through their full range of motion.
Even though studies haven’t consistently shown that stretching helps prevent muscle soreness or injury, it doesn’t harm to devote 3 minutes to stretching. If nothing consider it as an extension of your warm-up routine.
And that is all. You are ready for your workout with your body ready to bear the additional stress and your mind free of the stress from injuries.
In the present-day situation keeping your body and mind healthy is paramount. This is why working out and doing it the right way is important. Do you have a warm-up routine? Let us know in the comments below if you benefited from this article.