Have you ever wondered why your class instructor, trainer, therapist, or coach places a significant emphasis on warm ups before you push and pull heavyweights in the gym?
Most likely, it is because they don’t want injuries to occur. And because warm ups are essential.
It is crucial to perform a proper warm up before any physical activity. The purpose of a warm up is to prevent injury by increasing the body’s core and muscle temperature. Warm muscles increase the energy production rate, which increases reflexes and lowers the time it takes to contract a muscle.
A good warm up should also increase the range of motion and mentally prepare you for exercise. Warm ups should be specific to the type of exercise you are doing but should be a full-body warm up even if you only plan to work out a few muscle groups.
For example, if you plan to do a leg workout, you should do a warm-up with mostly lower body exercises and include a few upper body/full-body exercises.
How to Warm Up
The RAMP framework is a template that allows you to construct a warm-up with content sequenced appropriately, resulting in athletes being well prepared for the activities that follow: (1)
Raise – Raise body temperature, heart and breathing rates, and increase blood flow to working muscles
Activate – Activate the main muscle groups
Mobilise – Mobilise the key joints
Potentiate – Mirror the level of intensity that will be produced during the exercises that follow in training or competition
Benefits of Warming Up
Improved Performance (2)
Warming up improves your athletic performance in the following ways:
- Improved Blood Flow – Warming up for 10 minutes with an easygoing activity enhances blood flow to your skeletal muscles and opens up blood capillaries. Your blood carries the oxygen needed for your muscles to function, so increasing your blood flow is one of the best things you can do to set your muscles up for a workout.
- Improved Oxygen Efficiency – When you do a warm-up exercise, oxygen is released from your blood more readily and at higher temperatures. Your muscles demand more elevated amounts of oxygen while exercising, so it’s essential to make this oxygen more available through a warm-up activity.
- Faster Muscle Contraction/Relaxation – Warming up with physical activity raises your body temperature, which in turn improves your nerve transmission and muscle metabolism. The result? Your muscles will perform faster and more efficiently.
Warming up prevents injuries by loosening your joints and improving blood flow to your muscles — making your muscles less likely to rip, tear, or twist in a harmful way during your workout. Stretching also helps prepare your muscles for the physical activities you’re about to perform.
A side benefit of warming up is that your brain will become focused on your body and your physical activity as you go through the process. This focus will carry over into your training session to improve your technique, coordination, and skill.
For those who train regularly and play regular sports, undertaking a proper warm-up with similar movements that will be performed during your session or game can be beneficial to performance and reduce injury risk.
Overall, the warm up should stimulate and challenge the body’s proprioceptive mechanisms, joint stability and flexibility. After the warm up, the individual or athlete should be feeling warm and primed for the next part of their session.
Seek a professional’s advice, such as an exercise coach/trainer, allied health professional or anyone from the Revitalize Exercise Physiology & Clinical Pilates Classes Team.