Working out provides the body with several benefits including increased energy, metabolism, muscle mass, and bone density. However, the importance of preparing your body for movement is equally important, but is often cut short or skipped entirely due to lack of time, space, of knowledge of warmup mechanics. Here are a few big reasons to prioritize your warm up.
Warming up helps activate your muscles for movement. Before hitting the weight room or jumping up the incline on your spin bike, it’s important to warm up the muscles you’ll be relying on during your workout in order to get them to activate when needed. When performing any type of movement, your brain is sending signals to your muscle fibers to activate in order to perform that movement properly. However, your brain won’t necessarily send enough signals to those muscle fibers right away, putting you at a risk for injury if you try to lift submaximal weight on your first repetition. Warming up the muscles and performing lighter repetitions of major movements first will allow the brain to increase the number of signals it sends to your muscles to activate so that when you start to perform your movements with high tension or submaximal weight, your muscle fibers will be firing appropriately.
Warming up increases your body temperature and increases blood flow to your muscles. This allows for the muscles to loosen up and increases your mobility, safeguarding you from tearing a muscle due to stiffness and lack of mobility. This becomes extremely important during the winter months, as the muscles will be even stiffer and more contracted due to the decreased temperature. By spending five to ten minutes moving the body, you’ll increase the blood flow and overall body temperature and will be able to progress into your workout much more safely.
If you’re in need of a quick full body warm up, try out these couple movements to get the blood flowing throughout the body.
1. Traveling Inch Worm
Begin in a plank position. Walk your feet in toward your hands while keeping your legs straight to stretch through the hamstrings and calf muscles. Once your feet get as close to your hands as you can without bending your legs, walk your hands out and return to a plank position. Repeat this movement five times.
2. Arm Circles
Begin with your arms directly out to your sides. Start making small arm circles, rotating the arms forward. Slowly make the circles larger until your arms are extending up above your head during the circle. Repeat the movement with the arms rotating backward.
3. Body Weight Squats
Place the feet hip-width to shoulder-width apart with toes pointing forward. Initiate the movement by bending at the knees and sending the hips down until your hips are at or below parallel with your knees. Drive your heels down and squeeze through your glutes and quads to power back up to a full standing position. Repeat this movement ten times.
Dedicating ten minutes prior to your workout to warm up will help protect you from sustaining an injury. If you prioritize your warm up as much as you prioritize your workout time, you’ll reap the benefits from your workout even more.
Lauren Weiss is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Long Beach, CA. She specializes in kettlebell training and unconventional workouts and has been working with both types of fitness for over a year. Lauren has her BOLT Kettlebell Sport Certification through the USA Kettlebell League and has expertise working with kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and several unconventional fitness tools. Lauren received her BA in Journalism and uses her writing expertise to craft thought-provoking articles about trending fitness, health & wellness topics. Follow Lauren on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.
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