There are many key components to a warm up, but sadly, not many people know what they are. In the average gym, it’s lucky to see someone warm up at all, let along take the steps to do it right. The right strategy can truly maximize any workout and including the key components to a warm up is essential! Hence, to maximize the benefits of each workout, follow these simple steps.
Many people think there aren’t any other key components to a warm up besides stretching. Although stretching is important, often the type of stretching is actually hindering a workout. Athletes always stretch before a workout, game or practice. However, the stretching an athlete does is called “dynamic” or movement stretching. This form of stretching helps loosen up muscles, while preparing them to contract & “fire”. The main idea is to have the muscles be loose, but not relaxed! When a “static” stretch is held, the muscle starts to relax and is less active. Moreover, some people even use this type of stretching to help them fall asleep because of how it relaxes the body. The key, use dynamic stretching for your warm up and static for your cool down. For more information on the benefits of static stretching, have a look at our blog on Muscle Soreness.
Heating up is particularly necessary for colder months. To understand just how bad exercising with cold muscles is, see our video on Cold Weather Training. That being said, getting acclimated to the amount of heat the body will produce is also helpful in summer training to prevent overheating. Either way, muscles function much better once they’re warm. It’s a fact that muscle contraction generates heat. This increased heat, however, helps the muscle cells function more efficiently & smoothly. In short, your muscles are able to move oxygen & energy around more efficiently, while flushing out lactic acid more easily. Think of it like a car engine being properly warmed up, with a fresh oil change; it’s much less likely to breakdown while performing!
In addition to the cellular components of muscles moving more easily, increasing blood flow & heart rate helps the rest of the body move more freely. Specifically, transporting oxygen & carbon dioxide to & from the lungs, as well as stored energy from carbs & fat. Think about it, if we’re not able to effectively remove our stored fat, is the workout even worth it?