Do we really need to warm up?
Well yes and no… It’s winter so generally yes we do… but a warm up doesn’t have to be a horrendous 500m row (although that is my go to warm-up so that’s Number One) it can be something fun, it only needs to take a few minutes and can even include (dare I say it) STRETCHING! A bit of dynamic stretching and foam rolling is a good way to start your warm-up. (But more about stretching and foam rolling another day…)
What are the real benefits of a good warm up?
You benefit from warming up because it helps increase blood flow to the working muscle which results in decreased muscle stiffness, reduced risk of injury and often, improved performance. Increased warmth to the muscle means it will contract and relax faster and therefore increase speed and strength and the possibility of over stretching (or pulling it) decreases. There may also be psychological benefits to warming up too, a little bit of time to clear the mind and re-focus on what you want to achieve during your training session.
My top 5 Warm-ups are
- Rowing.. but if you’ve read this far you should already know that – go for about 3 minutes with good technique and don’t worry to much about how far you get. I like rowing because it exercises all of your major muscle groups: legs, arms, back, abs and bum. Also rowing exercises muscles through a wide range of motion so your muscles stretch and your joints move to a greater extent, promoting flexibility and mobility.
- Handstands – YES getting upside down! Not only does it really warm up the upper body, but a little bit of blood rushing to the head is not a bad thing. Don’t worry if you can’t actually do handstands, you can just try walking your feet up the wall a little to get going or maybe starting in a lunge position, putting your hands down and kicking your legs up as far as they will go.
- Skipping – Americans like to call it jumping rope, but we can still call it skipping. You might need to put on a little Rocky soundtrack in the background so you can really get into it, but try for a total of 5 minutes and once you are going vary it a bit, do some slow and relaxed and some fast, try some high knees or even some double-unders if you are feeling really good.
- A light version of the exercises you are planning to do with complete full range of motion. This is not counting your warm up set okay? So if you are planning to do barbell squats, you grab your TRX and you do twenty squats with absolute full range of motion, this is before you even get under a bar. Or if you’re planning to bench then you do twenty push-ups then a couple of light sets with the bar…you get my drift?
- Some kind of Ground To Standing exercise – WHAT? If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, a Turkish Getup is a great example of a Ground-to-Standing Exercise which basically means getting from lying down to standing up in as few moves as possible, check out these guys Free Motion, if you’re interested in finding out more, they have some great ideas.
So what are you waiting for?
See you in the gym!