I’m going to tell you a story. This is basically a story telling on myself about that time that I about died (not really) during a workout because I didn’t properly warm up. As with any good coach, I know the importance of warm up, but I didn’t “have time” and dove straight into my workout.
So, I started on the rower and was going to do rowing intervals. Well, I didn’t do any gentle rowing to get those muscles and joints nice and limber and I just started doing 150M hard and 50M gentle.
I thought I was going to fall out and die. Literally stopped rowing because I was dizzy.
And I have pretty good endurance! I was mad.
“Hi, my name is Amber, and I have a temper”.
Okay, anyway, I took a minute and got myself pulled together and then moved on about my workout.
Okay, class, tell me. Why did I struggle so badly?
Well, because I came in ice cold and dove right in. In other words? I played the dumb card.
Yep, I’m totally calling myself out on that.
In all seriousness, though, a lot of people do not place the importance on warm ups that is due.
This subject doesn’t have to be boring. Because understanding how your body works and why your body needs certain things is so important to this healthy lifestyle journey!
The Importance of Warm Up Reason #1 – Warming Your Cold Muscles
Even if it is summertime outside, your muscles are still going to be ‘cold’ in terms of physical activity when you arrive at the gym.
Gentle movements to bring blood flow to those muscles is going to be extremely important as to not shock your body.
So, I teach a bootcamp class here in town, and it’s a small class with just a few gals in there and I have one that comes in and tries to power through the warm up. [She totally reads my blog by the way and I give her a hard time in a fun way, so I promise I’m not talking ill of her ?]
I really have to watch her during the warm up because if she’s doing leg swings, her movements tend to be hard and fast. So, I’ll coach her to slow down and be purposeful with her movements and remind her that this isn’t a race!
Same goes for you.
I know you’re super busy and when you get to the gym, you want to get right into the good stuff. I totally understand that, but do your muscles a favor and take 3-5 minutes of your time at the gym and do some gentle rowing on the rower, or on the elliptical for 5 minutes.
You could do something like 3 rounds of 15 air squats, 15 gentle leg swings each leg, and 10 plank rotations. Keeping each and every single movement mindful and purposeful to get the blood flow to your muscles
The Importance of Warm Up Reason #2 – Loosening Up Your Joints
So, I’m old and my joints are tight. Okay, I’m not actually old, I just feel like it some days.
Here’s the fact of the matter – when our bodies are not ‘warm’ our joints are not as mobile as when we’ve had a proper warm up.
An example of that would be – some guys (even gals) can come into the gym and do gentle pull ups as part of their warm up. Their movement is super slow and controlled as they move their bodies gently up and down while suspended.
Because of their strength, they are able to control that movement splendidly to warm up those joints in their shoulders.
Me? My pull ups are comparable to that of a struggling cat to climb in a high window. Believe me, I’m working on it. But pull ups are totally not part of my warm up.
Another option to warm up joints would be wide arm circles for the shoulders and upper body and gentle leg swings to warm up those hips.
You could even take a light strength band and wrap it around your knees and do some knee abduction to warm up those hips.
The Importance of Warm Up Reason #3 – Increasing your Heart Rate Gradually
Have you ever just dove into a workout and you felt like you were going to just die within the first 2-3 minutes?
Uh yeah. Me neither…. *as her voice drips with sarcasm*
I mean, I totally just told you about it a few paragraphs up! Point is – we all have done it!
While there is the initial “hump” of cardio of getting over that initial feeling of hey, I don’t want to do this; there is a way to minimize it. And, bonus! It’s better for your heart.
I know this might come as a shock to you, but a proper warm up will help minimize that feeling and is better for your heart.
When we dive into a cardio workout such as a good run or even a slower paced weight training session, it almost sends our heart into a “shock”.
Not really shock, but go with me here.
Your heart was happy beating along at just above resting heart rate and here you come trying to ruin everything by making her beat faster than she’d like and at an alarmingly high speed!
Think of your warm up, in regards to your heart anyway, as going to a social outing where you only know your hubby and maybe one other person.
You don’t want to just bombard the people with your amazing and socially awkward comments. You have to warm them up to your awkwardness first!
I’m totally socially awkward. Believe me. Sometimes I say things and people look at me like I have four heads. But it’s fine. It is what it is.
Same goes for your heart. You’ve got to warm her up to the idea that she’s going to be working harder for the next 30-45 minutes.
The Importance of Warm Up Reason #4 – It Helps Prevent Injuries
Let’s go back to my story about my pull ups and how I would never include them in my own warmup because they aren’t smooth and controlled yet.
So what? Does it really matter if my pull-ups aren’t controlled?
It does actually.
What if I walked into my home gym and went to the pull up rig and just started doing pull ups in my non controlled and struggling fashion.
It’d be a nightmare, right?
Yes, ma’am, it would.
I could injure my shoulder, or pull my lat muscles, or any number of things.
Let’s take this a step further and we won’t go too terrible deep on this. For myself personally and for my direct clients, I prefer a more active, albeit gentle, warm up.
This really doesn’t include stretching. I prefer to put stretching at the end of the workout for the day.
The reason for this is because your muscles are already warm, and especially lifting weights and making your muscles contract, they need to be stretched back out.
The concept of warming up, really doesn’t have to be a hard one.
I know of a lot of people that avoid it. They just go into the gym and dive in head first. That’s just miserable isn’t it?
Now, I know that your time is super minimal. You’re a wife, mother, and you work! I mean, your time is extremely limited.
Warming up doesn’t have to take 20 minutes.
Warming up could literally be 3-5 minutes of your workout time. Be efficient with your time and your workouts.
Think of your workouts like a 3 course meal –
Your warm up is the appetizer. It whets the pallet, that is your muscles, for the main course which is your workout. Now, the main course typically makes you too full for dessert which would be your cool down and stretching, but you can’t pass up dessert, because the dessert perfectly compliments the main course and appetizer and ties it all together.
I’ll leave you with one last thing. You can have 2-4 go-to warmups for your gym times that will set you up for a great workout.
You can totally do this! Don’t think too hard about it, mama. I really believe that once you start doing a short warm up before your workouts you will see a difference in your stamina during your workouts.
I believe in you!