WARM-UP 101

Why it's as important as your main workout
PHOTO: JAVIER DíEZ/STOCKSY

Sure, smashing your workout gets results. Sweating buckets, hearing your heart thumping in your chest and feeling that muscle burn feels damn good. When you’ve pushed yourself past your limits, you just know you’re bringing yourself closer to those goals – whether they’re body, strength or mind orientated.

When we’re about to start a tough workout, often we’re so fixated on how hard we’re going to push ourselves that we completely overlook just how important it is to get our bodies prepped and primed properly beforehand. Yes, we’re talking about warming up. It may not be fun, it may not be sexy – but it sure as hell is worth it. Why? Well, not only does it get our bodies in the right state to start performing exercise safely, but it also gets our bodies ready to perform efficiently. So those gains you’ve been chasing? You’re far more likely to catch them if you just give your warm-up as much thought as the rest of your workout.

Warm up to boost performance

If you’re about to head into a fast-paced, intense session like HIIT, then first thing’s first – we need to get that heart rate up safely and gradually. If you jump straight into a high-intensity workout before warming up, you’ll find your heart and lungs struggle to get up to speed – they need a little heads up before you place too much strain on them!

Warming up also increases your core body temperature, which is going to help the blood flow throughout your body. The more blood flow you have to the correct muscle groups, the more likely it is you’re going to nail those moves.

Making your warm-up sport specific is super important if you’re results driven. Think about which muscle groups you’re going to be putting under the most stress, whether you’re focusing more on strength or cardio and what kind of range of motion you’ll be requiring from certain parts of the body.

The more attention you pay to these details, the more you’re setting your body up for success come crunch time.

Warm up to prevent injury

As well as priming your body to smash your workout, warming up also helps to keep injuries at bay. From activating lazy muscles to lubricating the joints, there are many elements of warming up to think about before going head-on into a tough workout.

Increasing the body’s temperature will increase flexibility in the muscles and decrease stiffness in the joints – which means an improved range of motion throughout the workout. This is super important to ward off muscle strains, or worse – tears.

An increased blood flow to the muscles not only boosts performance, but it also helps your muscles to contract more efficiently, which significantly prevents the chances of injury. You’ll be able to recruit the right muscles more quickly, too. Taking time to allow your brain to connect with your body before the pressure is on will make it more likely to make the right reactive decisions when the intensity is high. In other words, warming up allows you the chance to work out more mindfully.

Why should you care about injury prevention? Well, no one likes being on the sidelines nursing a niggle. Whether you work out for aesthetic reasons, to clear your mind or to socialise, an injury – however big or small – will stop you in your tracks.

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