Warming up is arguably the dullest part of a workout. All you’re thinking about is getting to the main event: the WOD. But hold on right there! Prepping your body for movement is important not just for your performance and progress, but for your safety and overall health. Let’s dive into the benefits of warming up and why you shouldn’t skip this important part of your training.
By the way, here are a few things we love to use to warm up on a regular basis!
The Benefits of Warming Up Before You Train
Yes, there’s a reason your coach is making you do this.
It’ll Help Bump Your Body Temperature
When you walk into the gym, you’re cold — literally and figuratively. You don’t want to go from zero to 100 in one fell swoop.
One of the benefits of warming up is that it’ll raise your body temperature, and thus, the temperature of your muscles. As this is happening, more oxygen flows to your muscles, allowing them to do their job more safely, efficiently, and effectively.
Don’t forget, too, that your heart is a muscle. Warming up gets it pumping so that it doesn’t have to work as hard during the actual workout.
Warming Up is a Chance to Rehearse the Movements You’ll Do in Your WOD
Much of what we do in functional fitness relies on at least some technique. Your positioning isn’t something you want to dismiss, rush through, or fail to prepare for. If a workout calls for back squats, then your warmup is an opportunity to practice your technique — chest up, knees out, hips dropping straight down.
Don’t do it with a fully loaded barbell on your back before you’ve gotten a few practice reps in first. If you can’t do a movement properly with little to no weight, you won’t do it properly during the workout.
Don’t forget to read our full blog on the best way to warm up for squats.
It’s Good for Your Flexibility and Mobility — AKA Injury Prevention!
When you warm up properly, you’re stretching and elongating all those muscles that tightened up throughout your day. This is especially important if you sit most of the day.
Think about it.
You’re at your computer for eight (or more) hours, shoulders hunched, head jutting forward to look at the monitor, wrists and hands propped up on the desk to type on your keyboard. Your pecs are tight. Your shoulders are tight.
Your legs? They’re in a bent position that entire time. Your hips flexors are crying from neglect.
Now, imagine you take this same body, bring it to the gym, and demand that it does rep after rep of squats and kipping and jumping and sprinting.
Bad things are going to happen. We’re not just talking extreme soreness. We’re talking about injury. Yes, a lack of mobility is at the core of many injuries. It happens when, plain and simple, your body is asked to do something that it just wasn’t ready to do.
Now, does this mean you need to be a human rubber band before it’s safe to work out? No. In fact, being too flexible isn’t in your best interest. The point is that you need to prime your body for whatever you’re about to do.
On that note, be sure to read our blog on how to warm up.
Warming Up Gets Your Mind Ready, Too
Mindset plays a huge role in fitness. None of us can deny this. Thus, another one of the benefits of warming up is getting your brain in the game.
If you’re showing up to the gym after work — drained, exhausted, burnt out — and your coach tells you to do all the burpees, you’ll probably groan and head for the door.
But wait. If you crank up the music, find one of your favorite gym buddies, and knock out a few warmup reps, you’re going to be in a better place mentally to tackle that WOD. Your body isn’t the only thing at work in the gym.
“But, But, But… I Don’t Want to Wear Myself Out Too Much!”
Ah, yes. One of the most common excuses we love to make to try to avoid our warmups.
You’re right about one thing: Your warmup shouldn’t negatively impact your performance in the workout. Thankfully, with a little strategy, this can be easily avoided.
We should consider warmups as part of our workouts, yes, but they shouldn’t wear us out. They should help us feel more energized and ready to approach the workout head-on. So, approach your warmup with this mindset: You want to get your body ready, but not use a bunch of fuel in your tank.
If your workout includes three rounds of 10 burpees, you might warm up with three sets of three air squats, three jump squats, and three burpees. If the workout calls for a million box jumps, you might warm up with five step-ups followed by five box jumps.
This isn’t enough work to wear you out, but it’s enough to put you in the right place physically and mentally.
As you can see, there are a number of benefits of warming up. Remember that you don’t have to spend the first half-hour of your session on this. Even five to 10 minutes of warming up can get you where you need to be. Approach it strategically and use your time wisely, and you’ll quickly find warmups to be an essential part of your everyday training.
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