I think most people are generally aware that they should warm up before exercising, but it’s surprising how many people still skip this step anyway!
Perhaps this is because they don’t fully understand the importance of a proper warm up. Or Perhaps they’re confused about exactly how they should be warming up.
Why You Need To Warm Up
Warming up is important for a number of reasons.
A Proper warm-up gets the synovial fluid flowing so that your joints are properly lubricated. It will also get your heart rate up and prepare your central nervous system for your workout out.
Research has also shown that a warm-up increases performance and, although further research is needed, a review of the available studies also suggests that warming up prevents injury.
What About Static Stretching?
Although there are some exceptions, generally speaking, static stretching is best left until after you’ve worked out. Research has shown that doing static stretching as your warm-up can decrease your performance both in terms of strength, power, and explosive performance.
The Perfect Warm Up
The perfect warm-up depends on the activity you’re doing and once you gain confidence, you shouldn’t be afraid of switching things up to tailor your warm up to the type of training you will be doing.
However, if you’re looking for a good starting point, follow these three steps for an excellent all-purpose warm up to perform before strength training.
Step 1: Light Cardio
If you walked or cycled to the gym, you can skip this step, but if you’ve been sat at a desk for 8 hours and you drove or got public transport then start your session off with 5 mins of light cardio. Brisk walking on the treadmill will do the job just fine.
Step 2: Mobility Based Warm Up Exercises
Next, follow my mobility based, full body warm up before moving on to your main training. Sign up to my newsletter to download the warm-up, with full instructions on how to perform each exercise.
Step 3: Exercise Specific Warm Up Sets
Move on to your main workout, but still perform warm-up sets of your weighted exercises as you go.
This will prime your central nervous system and muscles for the particular exercises you’re undertaking. Generally, I like to do 3 warm-up sets before moving on to my working weights. I like to do reps of 5, 5, 3 in these sets, gradually increasing the weight for each set.
So, for example, if you’re planning on deadlifting 50kg, your warm-up sets could be 5 reps with just the bar (20kg), 5 reps with 30kg, then 3 reps with 40kg.
As I said, the ‘perfect’ warm-up doesn’t exist because it’s dependent on the type of workout you’ll be doing, as well as your individual weaknesses and injury history. But if you follow these three steps, I guarantee you will be warming up better than 90% of the people training at your gym!