Artist: dusanpetkovic


by John Harris Fitness

Starting your workout with cold muscles puts your body at risk. A thorough warm-up should be an essential part of every training routine. On the other hand, excessive warm-up can hinder training success by prematurely exhausting your muscles. Therefore, it's crucial to know the right balance and tailor your warm-up routine to the upcoming workout for optimal results.

The Benefits of Warm-Up

A gradual entry into your workout offers numerous advantages. Your muscles receive better blood flow, and your brain prepares for the impending strain, reducing the risk of injuries. Well-blooded muscles are more flexible and efficient. Improved oxygen supply and increased body temperature enhance overall bodily processes. After warming up, you can train more effectively and shield your joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles from injuries due to abrupt exertion. Moreover, your heart rate doesn't suddenly spike; instead, it gradually increases, reducing the strain on your cardiovascular system.

According to Norwegian researchers, a targeted warm-up routine can prevent about 30-50% of injuries in the long term. This was observed in handball players and female soccer players. It's crucial that the warm-up aligns with the specific sport and prepares the relevant muscle groups. Only then is the warm-up truly effective.

Artist: Nikolas_jkd

Warming Up Properly

There's no universal warm-up routine; instead, it needs to be adjusted based on age, season, time of day, and type of sport. The duration can also vary. For instance, if you train early in the morning, you should allocate more time for warming up, as the body takes longer to get into gear. In summer, a shorter warm-up is generally sufficient because the ambient temperature already warms up the body. Older athletes also require more time to prepare their bodies compared to younger individuals.

The nature of the impending strain is also crucial. A short, light workout requires less warm-up time than a competitive event. If you only train occasionally, around 10-15 minutes is usually enough to warm up the muscles and increase oxygen supply. Once you start sweating, you're typically ready for the actual workout. If you spent most of the previous day sitting, it's advisable to mobilize your joints before training, e.g., addressing a stiff neck.

The Golden Rules of Warm-Up

  • Start slowly
  • Begin with a short cardio workout
  • Subsequently, warm up specifically for your sport: For strength training, start with light sets
  • No break between warm-up and main workout
  • Avoid stretching before activities that require speed
  • Never stretch with cold muscles; stretching exercises are only advisable after proper warm-up, as otherwise, the risk of injury increases.

Warm-Up for Strength Training?

Let's definitively dispel the persistent myth that warm-up is detrimental to strength training.

A short cardio session burns few calories but guards against injuries. The purpose of warming up is evident. Even if your primary goal is muscle building, warming up is essential to adequately prepare your muscles. The fear of expending too much energy or rapidly fatiguing your muscles is unfounded when warming up correctly. Mobilize the muscle groups you intend to train later, spend a few minutes on the bike or treadmill, and then commence the specific warm-up, consisting of lighter sets that don't approach your limits. This way, you'll be optimally prepared, and your muscles will be ready for more.

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