We all want to go all-out at the gym. But doing so without warming up sufficiently is risking injury, as well as reducing the gains you get from the effort you put in.
Warmup should be a key part of any training routine - whether you’re at the gym, going for a run, or playing a sport. Even just a few minutes for a short warmup is worth reducing the risk of injury, which can put a massive hamper on your progress.
Read on and we’ll explain just why warmups are so important, before sharing some tips on building an optimal pre-workout warmup routine.
What is the Purpose of Pre-Workout Warmups?
Warmups are meant to get you primed for the workout ahead. You can’t just go all out from the very beginning. You need to ease into your workout, and get the body to where it can go 100%.
In your warmup, you want to activate the muscle groups you’re going to utilize in training. This will allow them to work better and push harder during your proper workout, resulting in maximum gains.
You’re also activating supporting muscles. These are not the muscle groups you’re actively targeting, but they help you perform proper, efficient movements. Without these muscles firing, your main muscle groups are at risk of being overloaded.
Your warmup will also help get the blood pumping and flowing freely through the body, ready to feed muscles the oxygen they need during your workout.
Finally, warmups are beneficial at getting you into the right mental state to attack your workout. The right mindset is crucial to getting the most out of your training, and like the body, the mind needs time to warm up and get into the right mood to push through barriers.
Why You Shouldn’t Skip Warmups
Warmups are not exciting, and it’s easy to give in to the temptation and jump right into the fun part of your workout. This is particularly true for sports, where it’s all too common to just show up and start playing.
But skipping the warmup means you won’t get the best results from your workout, and even worse, you risk injuries that can put you out of training for some time.
At the very start of your workout, your body is cold, and your muscles are not primed to work hard. Maybe you’ve been sitting at a desk in the office or at school all day, or you’ve just gotten out of bed.
Your body is not going to be prepared to undergo strenuous exercise straight away. Your joints are stiff, blood flow to the muscles is reduced, and this makes muscle tears and strains or joint injuries more common.
Alternatively, your body may not operate at full capacity if it’s not warmed up.
If you start working out when your target muscles are not fully activated yet, you won’t get optimal output. Meaning you won’t be able to lift as much or move as fast.
This means you won’t get the same improvements in your body, whether your goal is to gain muscle or lose fat, as you would if your body was working at 100% effectiveness during the workout.
Is a Warmup the Same Thing as Stretching?
Stretching can be part of your warmup, but it’s not the same thing.
Stretching helps warm up your muscles and loosen the body, which is a good thing to do before your workout.
But it’s not enough to just do a few stretches and then jump right into deadlifts or a HIIT workout.
As part of your warmup, you should also activate your cardiovascular system. You want to get your heart rate up and stimulate blood flow throughout the body. Light cardio, such as running or cycling, is good for this.
You also want to specifically activate the muscle groups you’re about to use. Stretching loosens your muscles, but it doesn’t get them ready for heavy lifting or explosive movements.
How to Warm Up Properly Before a Workout
When it comes to warmups, there’s no single routine that’s better than everything else. There are many ways you could go about this, the important thing is that your body is warm, loose, and ready for the training that’s to come.
Your warm-up doesn’t need to be incredible long. 5 to 10 minutes is generally enough. But ensure you make this a priority, and never skip it.
Here are some ideas of what you can do as part of your warmup routine:
While stretching shouldn’t be your entire warmup routine, they can be beneficial at helping you loosen up at the start of your workout.
Static stretching (meaning stretches that you hold for a length of time, usually 15-30 seconds) is particularly useful if one of your goals is to improve flexibility and dexterity.
As opposed to static stretching, dynamic stretching puts your body through a full range of motion, preparing you better for the workout to come.
You can go up or down the body, performing a series of movements that warm up and activate the entire body.
This video will give you some ideas for a dynamic stretching routine:
You can do a simple set of bodyweight exercises to prime your body for more intense, weighted exercises.
Bodyweight movements are great because they don’t put much strain on your joints and muscles, yet you can replicate the very exercises you plan to do with weights.
A simple set of unweighted exercises like squats, push-ups and lunges is a simple, extremely effective way to get yourself primed prior to a workout.
You’ll want to get your heart rate up before diving straight into the intense part of your workout. Even if your workout is focused on building strength and lifting heavy, it’s still beneficial for you to get the heart beating and blood pumping with a few minutes of running or cycling.
Finally, you can also think of warm-up reps as part of your prep routine.
Instead of jumping right into the heaviest lifts you can do, complete one or two sets at a very low percentage of your max. This will help you warm up the exact muscle groups you’re targeting, as well as getting your form down while the weight is still low.
There are also some supplements that will help you get your body, and mind, in the right state for your workout.
Pre-workout supplements can give you an energy boost, as well as nutrients and minerals that will help fuel your body during your workout.
Naked Energy is a powerful, clean pre-workout formula that provides the energy boost and mental clarity you need to get going.
Additionally, Nakedade helps deliver electrolytes your body needs to maintain energy during your training session, and a creatine supplement provides valuable nutrients that help your muscles perform better and recover faster.
The pre-workout warmup is not fun. No one gets excited to go to the gym and warm up. But it’s an essential part of your workout, which should not be ignored.
Warming up helps you get injured less often, and prepares your body so it’s ready to push harder and perform better during your main workout.
Before every training, whether you’re lifting, running outdoors or playing a sport, take 5-10 minutes to warm up, by doing some dynamic stretching, a little light cardio, and taking some supplements.