Warming up has for a long time been considered to be a necessary component of a session, yet was completed in a lacklustre way. Generally running a lap or two of the oval followed by a few half hearted static stretches was considered ‘warming up’.
Nowadays, most established fitness centres/institutions and coaches are employing are more strict warm up protocol, and rightfully so. But for those who train by themselves, warming up can still be a very fortuitous process.
Warming up shouldn’t be thought of in a lacklustre sense, in fact it shouldn’t really even be called warming up. It should be referred to as training preparation, or some other clever technical term that details the process we go through before completing a intense workout.
The fact is, warming up is a vital process that prepares our body’s for the intense physical demands we are about to place on it. In preparing our body’s we are ensuring that the risk of injury is reduced, the movement patterns we need to perform are able to be completed and our muscles are warm and ready to train.
Even if you are the most injury resilient person on this planet, I can assure you that you won’t be performing at full capacity without a proper warm up.
And unfortunately, a lot of people think this way. And by thinking this way it shows that more people are concerned with what they look like than what they can physically achieve in there training. There is a big difference between having an athletic look and having an athletically functioning body.
So with this in mind, we are going to delve a little deeper into the purpose of a warm up and how it can get you prepared to rip in to your workout.
– Increase in Core Temperature – Starting movements in a slower motion with lower intensity is a great way to start a session. It helps the body start to sweat a little and ensure that you aren’t going to start the main part of the session with cold, unprepared muscles. Higher muscle temperatures will lead to quicker muscle contractions which can lead to better performances.
– Increased Heart Rate and Breathing Rate – Increasing your heart rate is a massive must in your warm up protocol. If you don’t get your heart rate high in your warm up, you’ll struggle to be able to sustain a consistent working rate throughout your workout and potentially be more susceptible to fatigue. Being able to control your breathing is another crucial aspect that is closely linked to your heart rate. Your muscles rely on a supply of oxygen throughout a workout which is directly affected by your ventilation and heart rate, both of which increase in proportion to your training intensity.
– Increase in Strength – The warm up provides a good opportunity to work on more functional movement patterns that can help to increase your strength in various weak spots. The warm up is a good time to consolidate specific movement patterns to help enhance your overall strength.
– Stimulate your Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity – The way a warm up works, starting with a low intensity and progressively building throughout the warm up, helps to increase your aerobic capacity and also anaerobic capacity if you do short explosive work before your main set. This will help to increase your heart rate and improve your working capacity throughout the session.
– Completing New Movements – The introduction to new movements is a great way to keep your warm ups fun, functional and constantly improving all aspects of your overall fitness. Movements that target weak areas in particular are a great asset to a warm up routine as they will help to activate muscles that may normally switch off during a workout. The can also help to improve form and technique.
– Enhance Flexibility and Improve Mobility and Stability – One may think these aspects are all the same but they are very different and all vital to our exercising capacity. The more we exercise, and the older we become the more vital these three aspects play in our day to day life. The more flexible we become the greater our range of movement becomes helping to improve our mobility. Ensuring we are always completing these movements in a stable and controlled way will help to ensure no muscle imbalances occur and decrease the pre-management of injuries. Improve these three qualities is vital to becoming a more functional athlete.
– Stimulate the Central Nervous System – Waking up the central nervous system is another significant benefit of the warm up. Numerous signalling pathways between the central nervous system and muscles are strengthened during the warm up. When your central nervous system is activating all required signalling pathways your performance will be more fluent and efficient, and your awareness and co-ordination will be heightened. This will enhance performance and lead to a more beneficial training session.
– Improved Focus – The warm up is a great way to clear your head and focus on what you are about to achieve. A massive performance decrement comes from external stressors and the warm up proves a great time to eliminate these and focus on the task at hand. Self talk has been associated with improvements in performance so make sure you think positive and get those negative thoughts out of your head.