The warm-up. One of the most important aspects of working out, or any physical activity. At the same time, it is also the most ignored / neglected. Ask any fitness guru or any professional athlete. They will tell you just how important warming up really is!
Let me tell you a few very important facts about warming up.
The main objective of doing a warm-up is to slowly raise the body temperature in a state where the muscles will be at its optimum level of performance. At a higher than relaxed temperature, your muscles gets loosened up and well lubricated. This state is what we want to achieve before doing our main physical activity, or the workout itself.
So, how do we do the warm-up? I get that a lot. The key to a good warm-up session is to keep it simple. First, think of the main activity you will do. Whatever it is, warm up by doing some movements exactly like it or very similar to it, but of less intensity. Much less. Here are a few examples:
- If you will be doing a sprint or a marathon run, do some light jogging or a few jumping jacks.
- If you were to do high-intensity dancing, do a few jumping jacks or skip rope
- If the workout would be of a martial arts nature, I would recommend a few light kicks and strikes
If you would be doing a bodybuilding type of workout, though, It will be different. You would have to do a light warm-up set for every muscle group you would be attacking.
For instance, if it happened to be a chest day, you will be doing all sorts of chest exercises. Probably the bench press, the flyes, the pec deck or the crossover. All these movements attack the chest muscles. The ideal warm-up before you do your heavy chest work is to probably do a few reps of push-ups. (that is if push-ups are easy for you).
So, should stretching be included in the warm-up routine? OH HELL, NO!!! Never stretch a cold muscle!
Please keep in mind that the objective of stretching is not to loosen up or warm the muscles up. It does nothing for warming up. As in nothing, nil, zero, naught, blank, zilch, dry hump! Stretching does not do anything to increase body temperature. The main objective of stretching is to increase the range of motion ONLY. It is safe to say that stretching should be done, after the workout, when your muscles are thoroughly heated and lubricated, ready to be trained for flexibility. If the activity or workout you need to do requires better flexibility or a wider range of motion, go ahead and do your stretching routine, but ONLY after you are thoroughly warmed-up. Capisce?
The idea is, an ideal warm-up routine shouldn’t last any more than 5 minutes. Even 3 minutes should suffice. The warm-up routine should leave you warm enough to get the muscles well lubricated and ready for action, or even a bit breathless. Once you achieve this state, your muscles can do pretty much anything you would sanely subject them to.
Considering the very low level of difficulty of warm-ups, everything to gain and nothing to lose, the dangers of not doing it, do you suppose you could now promise yourself to do a warm-up routine every time you would workout?