The Warm-Up

May 19, 2011

Before I set out to exert my body, whether it’s a run in the park, a strength routine at the gym, a yoga class, boxing or conditioning, I need to get the juices flowing and energy pumping through my body.  This is when I mentally prepare for the physical demands I’m about to put on myself and I want it to be a stimulating eperience.  It’s a great time for me to visualize the exercises I’m about to do and psyche myself up for the workout, connecting my mental and physical self.

A proper warmup increases blood flow to the joints, ligaments and tendons, which helps them to get ready to endure the stress of an exercise program by being more elastic and pliable. Warming up elevates body temperature and helps fire up the neuromuscular system, preparing for movements along various planes and angles.

A traditional warmup consists of a treadmill, bicycle or elliptical machine for five minutes before any type of workout.  Is that 5 boring minutes necessary?  Maybe, and maybe not!   If my strength-training client walks in at 6pm and he has been active throughout the day, perhaps a better warm-up might be some light calisthenics instead, such as pushups, body-weight squats in proper form with some core activation exercises.  However, if it’s 5:30am and my client just rolled out of bed, that 5 minutes might be 8 minutes followed by a full-body warmup and, finally the actual workout.

The best warmup in my book is something specific to the workout set before me. For instance, if I’m about to run 8 miles, I will do a series of dynamic stretches for my lower body to prepare for the run.  What I’m trying to say, is a warm up of various movement patterns along different planes of motion is perhaps be a better choice than slouching for 5 minutes on a bike watching TV.

Think about your exercise program and put some thought into your warmup to make it specific (and fun) to the workout.  Have questions about your warmup technique? Email me–I’d be happy to help!

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