Want to know how to warm up your body before a workout? Have you ever gotten deep into an intense workout, and experienced a sharp pain in a certain joint or tendon?
If that sounds familiar, odds are that you have not warmed up and have increased your risk of injury.
In this article, we’re going to give you insight on how to warm up your body for a workout, in order to maximize your output and minimize the chance of injury.
When you are working out, what you’re doing is activating certain muscles and systems in the body that make it possible to provide energy and force for the movement/exercise you’re doing.
In the case of weight training, you’re activating your muscle fibers and your central nervous system, along with the cardiovascular system and energy pathways that grant sustained energy for muscular contraction.
From that point of view, the goals of a warm up are the following:
- Activating the muscle fibers
- Activating the central nervous system
- Gradually increasing heart rate
- Gradually increasing respiratory rate
Many people consider stretching to be one of the most important elements of your warm-up routine.
However, stretching can actually be COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to your workout, due to the fact that it RELAXES the muscles.
That is to say that if you just stretch before a workout, you won’t really improve your strength output.
How to REALLY Warm Up Your Body Before a Workout
Don’t ditch stretching altogether, but instead, try to also FLEX the muscles after stretching.
This is dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching involves both parts of the muscles’ range of motion – The stretch and the contraction.
The combination of these two phases, will allow you to prime the muscles for work, by activating the muscle fibers and stimulating the central nervous system.
Once you get into the exercises, you can start off with up to 3-4 warm-up sets. Then you gradually increase the working weight.
With the goals of priming your entire body for an intense workout, there are a couple of logical steps to take.
- Do some cardio
To warm up the body, get the blood flowing and increase your heart and respiratory rates, low-intensity cardio is one of your best bets before a workout.
Do up to 5-10 minutes of slow-paced cardio, such as jogging, rope jumping or cycling.
Remember though, don’t overdo cardio before a workout, because that can rob you of energy for your heavier lifts.
- Do Dynamic Stretching
As we already mentioned, dynamic stretching is one of the best practices to include in your warm-up.
Get each joint through its entire range of motion. Activate and stretch the muscle groups attached to that joint.
If you’re training your chest, open your arms out to stretch the chest. Then push them towards the midline of the body to contract even the deepest fibers of your chest muscles.
This will grant sufficient activation for you to move into the warm-up sets of your first exercise.
- Do Warm-Up Sets
After you’re done with your general warm up that consists of cardio and dynamic stretching, it is time to get into the actual exercises.
Start off with a light weight (i.e an empty barbell) and with each set. Then gradually increase the weight, until you reach your working weight.
Try and do those warm-up sets more explosively. It will further activate your nervous system and muscle fibers, thus granting better output for the working sets.
For instance, if you can bench press 70 kg for 10 repetitions, do the following pyramid:
- First Set- Empty bar, 15 reps
- Second Set – 30 kg bar, 15 reps
- Third Set – 50 kg bar, 10 reps
After the third set, you can bump the weight up. Start your working sets, where the goal is to be near failure at the last repetition.
If you cold-start a car and instantly start running it into the redline, odds are that something will eventually break, faster than it would if you waited a couple of minutes for the car to warm up.
The same goes for the body. If you’re planning to go through an intense training bout, you should gradually prime all the systems and tissues involved in the training.
The best way is to create a warm-up routine that consists of cardio, along with stretching and flexing. After you can gradually move into your heavier exercises.
THIS is how you prime the body for peak performance, without risking the chance of injury.
What is YOUR favorite warm-up routine? Let us know in the comments below!