It’s cool to be warm: Why warming up before a workout is essential
Want to know what you, before a training session, and South African weather this November have in common? Both of those things SHOULD be warming up. The sun’s definitely come to the party this sweltering summer, but have you? Though warming up can feel like a skippable step, the benefits of taking a few moments to get your body warm before launching into training far outweigh the extra few minutes you might need to spend at the gym. The last thing you want this December is to be sitting on the beach nursing a preventable training injury while your whole family has the holiday of a lifetime. One can only build so many sandcastles before the magic wears off.
If you’re not entirely convinced, these are the reasons you should definitely develop your own warm-up routine:
1. More heat = more oxygen
When you do a warm-up, as one would imagine, your muscles get hotter. This rise in temperature means more blood flow to the muscles you’re working with; therefore, more oxygen is being made available to those muscle groups. More oxygen in a muscle means it can expand and contract more easily. Therefore, you can do more strenuous tasks more efficiently. You’re giving your body’s engine a little time to rev up before you launch into the race. This also takes some pressure off your heart, as it has more time to prepare for the intensity you’re about to put it through, which seems only fair, really.
2. Your chances of hurting yourself drastically drop.
When they say, “injury is part of the sport,” the bit they left out at the end was “if you keep refusing to do warm-ups for no reason.” For many, injury prevention is the number one reason they choose to warm up at all times. Injuries suck, plain and simple. They stop your training in its tracks can significantly damage your progress; limping doesn’t look very cool; and, y’know, they hurt. When you warm up, you improve muscle elasticity and maximise the efficiency of your muscle cooling. This means less chance of accidentally hurting yourself or overheating. Danny Trejo is the only person who can make a limp look serious and awesome, so don’t risk it.
3. They get your head in the game.
A lot of what makes training challenging is all in your head. Winning the mental battle of working out is half the fun, and it’s what drives that feeling of triumph you get when you shatter through personal records. Conversely, a bad or unprepared headspace will hobble your physical capability in a big way. We’re not saying you can go from 5kg dumbbells to racking up strongman deadlifts by saying “I BELIEVE in myself” a couple of times in the locker room mirror, but we think you can definitely pick up those 8’s when you master the attitude. If you warm up, you’re giving yourself the time to occupy the motivated, capable headspace you need to push harder than you did the last time. You’ll be a lot less likely to give up when the session gets hard if you’ve given yourself a pep talk beforehand.
4. You’ll get bendier
In all aspects of life, flexibility is desirable. Flexible work hours? A win. Pants that have a little extra stretch after a hefty lunch? Perfection. When you’re training for your goals? Exactly what you’re looking for! In addition to your other warm-ups, you should be stretching to increase your flexibility and, therefore, your performance. Make sure to stretch out after your initial warm-up, as this will increase blood flow to your muscles and positively affect your flexibility in both the long and short term.
5. Lift heavier, faster
Any seasoned lifter will let you know you don’t walk straight up to the most challenging weight in your circuit and tackle it first. You need to work up to your big obstacles and then go from there. If you want to lift heavy and do it without injuring yourself in a very embarrassing, public way, it’s crucial that you warm up before even touching a machine. Don’t even think about racking up until you’ve got the blood pumping through your joints. Warming up also means you’ll likely need less build-up time before you start lifting the big plates.
How do I warm up?
Are you ready to get stuck into your warming-up routine yet, hot stuff? We thought so. Everyone’s goals and fitness levels are different, so there’s no “one-size-fits-all” warming-up routine that will cater to everyone’s precise needs. Some warm-ups you can try are jogging on the spot, cycling on a stationary bike, or even just doing the workout you’re planning to do, but really slowly.
As a stretch to try, go the “static stretching” route. This involves stretching a muscle slowly and holding it in place for up to thirty seconds. Warning: It is a ridiculously satisfying feeling.
Warming up can be improved even further by adding accessories and equipment. Trojan Health has the following available to make your warm-up your favourite bit of your workout: