Everyone dreams of having a body that shows determination, dedication, and discipline. What is often hidden (in plain sight!) is the warm-up exercises conducted before settling into a workout routine. No matter how much time a person dedicates to their body and spends in the gym, if they don’t dedicate a percentage of time to keeping themselves flexible, all their hard earned gains could be voided due to injury.
The temptation to jump immediately into your workout is there, but by taking a few minutes to prepare, will earn you gratitude from your body. Think of warm up as if your muscles were a light switch and you’re giving them the blood and oxygen they need to perform better. Even a low intensity warm up is enough to get the body revved up and receptive to a greater workout.
Different Warm-Ups for Different Exercises
Warm ups should be relevant to the work out you’re about to dedicate yourself to, and this is done by focusing on the right muscles. You wouldn’t want to focus on shoulders and upper back if it’s leg day. Likewise, you wouldn’t concentrate on your glutes or traps if it’s bicep or tricep day.
There are numerous bodyweight exercises that you could do to warm up, including:
- Reverse Lunges
- Mountain Climbers
- Wide-Grip Push-Ups
- High Knees
- Jumping Jacks
- Jumping Rope
Other great warm up exercises are aerobic in nature and are known to have cardiovascular benefits. Common types of exercise include:
- Stair Climbers and Ellipticals
Flexibility can also be increased by doing a brief yoga or tai chi session. A good rule to follow is that if it stretches the muscles and gets the blood flowing, it will likely improve your flexibility. Regular stretching of the different muscles leads to better workouts.
Warming up will get the blood flowing, limber up the muscles, and be uplifting from a mental standpoint. The most important aspect is to prevent injuries from occurring. Pulling or even tearing a muscle could be devastating, and could keep you out of the gym. Other common injuries are shin splints, knee or joint pain, rotator cuff injuries, or sprained ankles.
These painful and debilitating injuries can set you back from reaching your goals. No one is immune to injury, but there are steps you can take to mitigate them.
The Cool Down
After finishing a workout, are you guilty of leaving the gym before properly cooling down? There are a number of benefits your body receives by letting it cool down to recover and prepare yourself for the next time you work out.
By cooling down, you allow your heart rate and breathing to return to normal. You also avoid blood pooling, which is what happens after a vigorous activity. It also helps to remove any lactic acid that has built up in your muscles, thus avoiding any cramps or stiffness.
There are any number of warm up exercises that can help you, regardless of your age or physical condition. Contact State College Strength & Conditioning to discover how improving your flexibility can improve your workout and get you to your goals.