More than just a warm up

During this cold weather phase it seems apt to talk about warming up. I think it is generally accepted that a warm up is to prepare the body for the main activity or exercise that is about to start. So why do countless gym bunnies jump on the treadmill for 10 minutes before hitting the weights, or even worse, the meatheads  who go straight into lifting heavy iron without any preparation? 

One part of the “warm up” is to elevate the body temperature, which is where the idea of jumping on the treadmill or cross trainer comes from but that is only one part of it, and there are other, more effective ways.

A more accurate way to think about a warm up is for movement preparation. You are preparing the body for the movements that you are about to put it through.
Main points are:

  • joint mobilisation (arm circles, hip rotations etc)
  • body weight movements (squats, push ups, etc)
  • dynamic flexibility (leg swings)
  • muscle activation (core exercises like hip bridges, Turkish get ups etc)
  • elevating body temperature (should happen with all the above but if in doubt do some star jumps)

This is just a general guide as your movement prep should be based on what you are about to do. About to do a lot of bench pressing or squats? Do some body weights squats and push ups. About to go some kicks? Do lots of dynamic stretches and hip and leg work.

The “warm up” shouldn’t be your workout, just the first 5-10 mins. There are hundreds of exercises out there and plenty of YouTube videos to show you how to do them, but here are a few of my favourites for a general gym session: arm circles, hip rotations, leg circles, squats, lunges, lateral squats, t-push ups, star jumps, fit ball roll outs and fit ball leg curls.

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