Most of us workout to lose weight, build muscle, and feel more confident. Unfortunately, most of us also skip the warm-up.
I get it, there’s nothing particularly sexy or fun about warming up. But the truth is, when you bypass the warm-up and go straight into your workout, your body functions less efficiently and your results suffer.
If you’re going to dedicate time to working out, why not do it the right way?
Warming up preps your nervous system and allows several important changes to take place in the body.
- Your heart rate and blood flow increase
- Oxygen and nutrients get delivered to your muscles
- Fluid to your joints increases minimizing risk of injury
- Muscles loosen up making them less susceptible to pulls or tears
So how do you warm-up correctly? There is no single “right way”, however, there are a few things that need to happen.
Your warm-up needs to get your heart rate up. You can walk, jog, or use equipment such as a rowing machine or the elliptical.
Start at a moderate pace, then gradually increase until your heart rate increases and your body temperature rises. Ideally, you’ll want to break a sweat but everybody’s threshold for sweating is different so don’t let that be your indicator of a good warm-up. It’s important to note that the pace should be in accordance to your current fitness level. The warm-up should get you energized, not leave you exhausted.
After getting your heart rate up and possibly working up a light sweat (suggested time is 3-5 minutes, longer if working out in a cold environment) it is a good idea to stretch. Stretching helps in developing overall flexibility, particularly in the spine, shoulder, and hip areas. The kind of stretching depends on the type of exercises you plan to be doing that day.
For example, if you’re about to do squats, you would want to include lower body stretches involving the hamstrings, quads, and glutes. Mobility work, opening of the hips, and foam rolling would also be recommended.
Be sure to hold each stretch for a minimum of 12 seconds and do not bounce. This can result in pulling or tearing a muscle.
After warming up and working out, it is equally important to cool down. When a person suddenly stops exercising or lifting weights, blood gathers in the muscles and oxygen is blocked. When this happens, a person runs the risk of having a heart attack. You obviously don’t want that, so take 3-5 minutes and walk at a slow pace on a treadmill, then take a few more to do some foam rolling or stretching.
Committed To Your Health,
Brian Donovan is a certified fitness and nutrition coach, and the founder of Online Fitness Coach, LLC – an online fitness program where clients get direct coaching and personally tailored training and nutrition plans. Coach Brian was voted Chicago’s “Best Personal Trainer” by Chicago Reader magazine, Best Of Chicago 2014 edition. He has been featured in magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, Chicago Reader, Voyage Chicago, and The PTDC as well various other health and fitness blogs.
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