Warm ups at the Gym
Warm ups prior to working out don’t get nearly the attention they ought to. The research tells us that warm ups are critical to muscle development and growth. warm ups also help prevent injuries. So why do so many body builders and fitness enthusiasts blow them off?
Well, busy life styles and time pressures are usually to blame (see my post on excuses for blowing off the gym). I also think a lot of guys skip warming up because they really don’t see the benefit.
Here’s the deal – warming up is essential in helping you prepare your body for lifting weights and significantly reduces your chances of getting hurt.
Warm Ups Time
A warm up shouldn’t take you longer than 20 minutes. Some very practical activities include jogging in place, skipping rope or even a series of pushups. In cold weather climates, doing some type of a warmup is particularly important to help get blood flowing to the muscles.
Warm Ups: 10 Reasons
Here are 10 reasons why warm ups should be part of your workout. Some of these may seem like common sense. Other points may spark new insight. Either way, read them all so that you can see everything in context.
1) Elevates your body temperatures, which helps nerve transmission and metabolism in your muscles.
2) Increased heart rate that helps your body prepare for a meaningful workout.
3) Increased quality of in muscle movement, fluidity and flexibility.
4) Increased mental focus on the weight lifting exercises you will be doing.
5) Reduction of muscle soreness and pre-workout stiffness.
6) Increased blood flow through your tissues, leading to better metabolism.
7) Oxygenation of muscles, which helps them more effectively handle weight.
8) The firing of motor units – which activates fibers to grow and increase strength.
9) Increased contraction speed and relaxation of warmed up muscles.
10) Assists in the prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
Warm Ups: Dynamic Examples
Mobilization exercises are often referred to as dynamic stretching. Mobilization exercises are essentially controlled movements. Using this approach, you go through the full range of motion without stopping. You have probably seen people doing these at the gym.
Here are a few dynamic warm up exercises for you to think about. Keep in mind that if you are a novice to warm ups, start with something basic and easy and then add on more involved exercises as time goes on. I’ve included a video as well as well from HASfit as a visual reference.
Dynamic Warm up Examples:
- 15-30 push ups
- 5 minutes of jump rope
- 10-12 upward kicks
- 25 jumping jacks
- 10 High Knee Skips (each knee)
- 10 Lateral Lunges (each leg)
- 10 Ski Jacks
Warm Ups: Final Thoughts
The key to warming up is to engage in activities that will hold your attention. If jogging in place isn’t your thing, try something else. I often couple my warm up exercises with various forms of mindfulness. Why not get a twofer out of it – you know?
If you are looking for a really good resource on warm ups, I highly recommend the book, Dynamic Stretching by Mark Kovaks. What I like about this read are the practical examples on how to prepare your body for intense physical activity while also improving overall strength, power, endurance and agility.
There’s something like 50 dynamic warm up exercises inside so there’s lots to choose from!
If you are hoping to make progress at the gym and prevent injuries, make sure warmups become part of your body building ritual. It may seem like a waste of time but I assure you that it’s not. This point is particularly true if you have suffered gym related injuries in the past!
Warm Ups Poll
Just for fun, I am including a poll on warm ups pre-workout to see just how many of you engage in this activity. The results are not scientific but can be used to gauge what your fellow gym-goers are doing.
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