One common time-saving technique in the gym is to skip warming-up. Is a warm-up really necessary? Will your first few minutes of high-intensity cardio, weight lifting, or conditioning class serve the same purpose? The answer to this question is an emphatic NO. Here is why…
Reasons to Warm-Up:
1. Orthopedic Injury Risk:
a. Increasing the temperature of the muscle also increases the amount of force needed to injure the muscle. If you do not warm up before high-intensity exercise, you significantly increase your risk for injury.
a. Warming-up promotes better oxygen delivery and usage by the muscles. This allows you to train at a high intensity as soon as you start your session.
b. Increasing blood flow through active tissue allows your muscles to perform at higher intensities and under more stress. Without optimal blood flow, you will not have optimal performance.
c. Warming up also primes the nervous system for movement. If you don’t properly warm up before weight lifting, you will be WEAKER! This is why some weight lifters feel that their second set, of a given movement, was STRONGER than their first.
3. Heart Health:
a. For populations at risk for heart attacks, warming-up increases blood flow through the coronary arteries and reduces the stress placed upon the heart once high intensities are reached.
How to Warm-Up:
1. General Warm-Up:
a. This type of warm-up is unrelated to the anticipated exercise. Examples are jogging or using the elliptical before resistance training. A 5 minute general warm-up at a moderate intensity tends to be sufficient. If you have been inactive all day or you are cold, a longer warm-up may be needed.
2. Specific Warm-Up:
a. This type of warm-up prepares the body for the actual activity. An example is a warm-up set of dumbbell rows before you actually row. During resistance training, a specific warm-up should always be performed when working with weights that allow for a maximum of 12 reps.
Skipping your warm-up is not an option. Warming-up reduces injury risk as well as primes the body for maximal performance. A 5 minute general warm-up followed by a specific warm up will keep you safe and maximize your time in the gym!