How to warm up before your next workout

October 28, 2014

Warming up before exercising is extremely important for improving performance and preventing injury. Your warm up is not only a time for you to prepare your body for movement, but also a chance to get into the right mindset for training. Read on to get started.

How to warm up before your next workout

Benefits of a warmup

Warming up before exercising has many benefits for both your body and mind. The following list offers the key reasons why you need to warm up every time you train.

  • Higher muscle temperature. Warm muscles perform better than cold ones: they can contract and relax faster, improving your performance in training. Warm muscles are also more elastic, which reduces the risk of over-stretching or injury.
  • Better blood circulation. Warming up expands the blood vessels, improving oxygen delivery to your muscles. Just five minutes of aerobic activity, such as jogging or even walking quickly, can increase blood flow.
  • Improved joint movement. Warming up releases synovial fluid into your joints, allowing them to move more freely.
  • Better energy availability. During your warm up, your body produces hormones that regulate energy production. These hormones make carbohydrates available for you to convert into energy while you exercise.
  • Clear mind. The warm up is a chance for you to mentally prepare for training by clearing your mind of the day's events so you can better focus on the task at hand.

How to warm up before training

The primary purpose of the warm up is to increase your body temperature. Therefore, your warm up should include an activity that raises your heart rate, such as jogging or walking briskly. Start very gently and gradually increase the intensity to bring up your body temperature.

The warm up should target all parts of the body that you will use during your training. As well as warming up your legs by walking or jogging, you should also circle your arms to drive blood flow to your forearms, hands and fingers.

Stretching is an important part of warming up, but you should only stretch after doing some cardiovascular exercise to raise your body temperature. Stretching a cold muscle can cause tears in the muscle.

Once your body temperature is raised, gently stretch out the muscles that you will use in your training to increase their elasticity. Pay attention to all the parts of the body that you could use during training, including your neck, wrists, fingers and shoulders.

Just five minutes of warming up is sufficient for most gentle activities. However, if you're planning a high intensity training session, extend your warm up to 10 minutes to achieve the maximum benefit.

A good warm up can help you to avoid injury and make the most of your training session.

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