More often than not I see people at the gym starting their workout without warming up, either because they are pressed for time or simply can’t be bothered. I cannot stress enough how important a proper warm up is to having not only an effective workout, but also to staying injury free.
What are the main reasons to warm up?
- Warming up will prepare the muscles and the nervous system for exercise
- It will raise your body temperature and increases blood flow to tendons, ligaments and muscle
- Having a warm body will give you the functional flexibility that you need to perform a given exercise during your workout.
Traditionally many people warm up by doing a light running or jumping jacks, which is fine for getting the blood flowing and the body moving, however if you are doing an upper body workout on that day that is simply not enough.
If you are working out your upper body you should be warming up your upper body specifically as well, the same rule applies if you are doing a strenuous lower body workout.
Some things that you can incorporate into your warm up routine:
Lower body days
Do some light jogging to get the blood flowing, followed by some of the following exercises: forward lunges, lateral lunges, walking lunges, and half squats, hip swings.
Upper body days
Do some light jogging to get the blood flowing, followed by shoulder rolls, a good neck stretch and arms circles.
Begin by standing tall, feet about shoulder width apart, with a slight bend in the knees. Swing both arms up to an overhead position and then forward, down, and backwards, in a large circular motion. Repeat 10 times rolling the shoulders back and then reverse the movement.
Begin by standing tall, feet about shoulder width apart. Raise your shoulders up towards your ears (inhaling) then roll them backwards (exhaling), then up again to the ear in a smooth controlled action. Repeat 10 times rolling the shoulders back and then reverse the movement.
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Image courtesy of A Hermida on Flickr.