Ask yourself this question: Why do I exercise?
Most of you probably exercise to stay toned, fit and in better shape so you improve your health and live a long life.
Fair enough. But how do you plan on doing that if your ambitious stint at the gym leaves you lying in bed with a pulled muscle or an injured hamstring?
This is why warming up is crucial.
If you are new to exercising, here’s what you need to remember: Warming up is necessary, no questions asked.
If you are not new to exercising, then you probably already know the importance of a pre-workout warm-up session. It is also possible that you take it lightly, consider it a beginner’s routine or an overly cautious practice and simply do not care for it.
Many people assume a warm-up is merely a way of mentally preparing yourself for the workout to come. But skipping the warm-up before exercising can be more damaging than you think.
A complete warm-up routine consists of the following:
- Basic warm-up
- Specific warm-up (if you’re preparing to exercise a specific body part)
It is important to focus on the first two components that should always precede a workout. You should ask your trainer to suggest additional specific warm-up exercises if your workout session will concentrate on a specific area of your body.
A rookie mistake many people make is clumping basic warm-up and stretching exercises together, assuming they are the same thing. It is crucial to distinguish between the two – basic warm-up and stretching exercises.
Warm-up exercises promote blood flow throughout the body, including your muscles. Stretching involves flexing those muscles and promoting movement through them. If you skip the warm-up and jump to stretching, you could harm your still cold, rigid and unlubricated muscles.
Here are the benefits of a pre-exercise warm-up.
1. It increases body temperature
Hemoglobin and myoglobin are proteins responsible for delivering oxygen throughout the body.
Increases in body temperature spike their oxygen-delivering activity and flushes your body with healthy oxygen essential to an effective workout session.
2. It promotes blood flow to the muscles
Blood flow to the muscles ensures your muscles are well fed, warm, more elastic and pumped with nutrients and energy to engage in and sustain exercise.
It makes the muscles and joints more workable. Healthy circulation enables the muscles and joints to engage in motion easily, thus allowing for a variety of exercises.
3. It improves performance
Warming up before exercising significantly improves performance, and there is little to no evidence to suggest that it is harmful in any way, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
4. It makes the nerves more sensitive
It improves nerve sensitivity and triggers an increase in the amount of nerve impulses.
This simply means that warming up boosts your motor skills, allowing for better coordination between what your brain wants to do and what your muscles and body ultimately perform.
5. It prepares your heart for the impending exertion
Since the heart is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, a warm-up allows the heart ample time to adjust to the body’s increasing demand for oxygen.
6. It significantly reduces the chances of injury
Stretching and warm-up exercises before workouts significantly prevent injuries, according to a 2007 study published in Sports Medicine.
When you lift a heavy load like weights, your muscles tighten up in order to gain enough strength to be able to lift the weight, and your body releases fluid to lubricate them after. Since the muscles are situated one on top of the other, they need adequate lubrication to prevent tearing during the constant contraction and relaxation that occurs during exercise.
If you warm up first, your body will secrete enough fluid to protect your muscles when engaging in more strenuous exercises.