Why should we warm up?
Everyone knows why we warm up. The main reason being is to highly reduce the risk of injury! But did you know an effective warm up could also lead to better performance and lifts in activity?
An effective warm up should consist of a heart rate elevation, plus some dynamic stretches to the area/muscle groups you will be using within your activity. For example, if I was about to perform some barbell squats in the gym, I would do a short incline walk on the treadmill and perform some movements to help mobilise the hip, groin and activate the glutes (this will be shown with video demonstration), then I would do a set with just the barbell before loading the weight up slowly to my desired working sets.
Now, I will explain the importance of each step:
1. Heart rate elevation. Increasing your heart rate before any activity will allow your body to become more warm and prep your mind that you’re about to exercise. Warming the body is crucial as our muscles are a bunch of fibres that become a lot more elastic as we pump more blood around the body. This would mean it would highly reduce the risks of pulling/tearing a muscle.
2. Dynamic stretches. Now that our muscles have more blood pumping into them, we’d want to perform some stretches to loosen the muscles around the joints.
Now, the key difference between dynamic and static stretches is the movement. With dynamic stretches, you want to apply movement along with your stretch. This is also the preferred stretch technique to warm up because studies have shown if you perform and hold static stretches, you have a decreased performance with your lifts compared to dynamic stretches.
However, a majority of the studies performed the two types of stretches without an heart rate elevation before hand. Therefore, some people skip the heart rate elevation and go straight to dynamic stretches. I personally do the heart rate elevation part of the warm up as I do not want to stretch in a “cold state”. You can warm up however you would prefer as it is your own body, there is no correct way!
Here is me demonstrating some dynamic stretches for the hips down below.
3. Now, once you get your joints nice and mobile, you’d want to start performing your exercise with a really light weight beforehand.
I personally always warm up with just the bar and slowly increase the weight to my working sets. I highly recommend this as even though our muscles are warm, we want to prepare our mind to do the exact exercise you will be doing. We also want to be activating the exact muscles used in the exercise as this will increase the performance in our working sets.
Doing these light warm up sets beforehand will also give you the chance to see how your body is responding to the exercise and give you a chance to make any modifications to your sets.
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