To warm up, or not to warm up… that is the question.
Somewhere between lacing up your trainers and starting your first set of squats, you face the most important decision of your workout: warm up, or not? There’s a good chance you just skip it. After all, you can barely schedule a 30-minute workout window. Who wants to waste one valuable kilojoule-torching minute on tedious knee hugs and neck rolls?
But the short-term investment pays off big time if you do it right. The best way to warm up is with dynamic stretching. This stretches a muscle at its full range of motion (a body-weight lunge, for example).
Dynamic stretching increases flexibility, improves blood flow and decreases your risk of injury and your recovery time. Translation: your workout will feel easier, and you’ll see quicker results.
3 Steps To Warm Up
Not all stretches are created equal, so we’ve divided the workout opposite into three groups, according to the benefits. here’s what you should know:
TURN IT ON: Nervous system activation
Even if your brain is saying “Bring it!” your muscles aren’t ready to work when you first hit the gym. Your central nervous system, which controls movement and activity, is basically in “power save” mode (blame it on a long day at your desk or hours in front of the TV). So before you jump into a workout, your brain needs to signal your body that it’s time for quick, explosive activity. These moves kick your nervous system into high gear by calling your coordination into action while raising your heart rate and body temperature. The result: your muscles respond more effectively during your workout.
UP THE ANTE: Muscle engagement
Now that you’ve got your heart pumping, this phase will turn on weak and under-utilised muscles: glutes, abdominals, hip flexors and lower and upper back muscles. These “core muscles” are responsible for maintaining stability and control in your joints while you move. Forgetting to activate these muscles raises your risk of injury.
PUSH FURTHER: Dynamic mobility
For the finale, you’ll increase the range of motion at your joints, while improving the flexibility in your large muscle groups from head to toe. And that’s a big deal: when your mobility is compromised by stiff muscles, you spend more energy during your workout fighting against your body’s limitations, rather than burning kilojoules.
Looking for more on stretching? Here are all the stretching moves you need according to which part of your body you want to workout.