WARM UPS AND STRETCHING
– WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT ISN’T!!
The warm up is a very important part of any exercise routine. Doing it correctly will maximize the benefits of your workout. Unfortunately, many people either skimp on it, do it incorrectly or even worse, skip it completely.
A warm up should achieve three main goals. It should:
- warm the body;
- loosen the muscles; and
- prepare the mind for the exercise ahead
- First do some low level aerobic activity for 3 to 5 minutes. Walk or jog, slowly row or ride a bike on low resistance. The goal here is to simply get the blood flowing and raise your heart rate moderately. This warms up your muscles and switches on your nervous system.
- Next perform a series of dynamic movements, such as walking lunges, toe touches, kettle bell or medicine ball swings, or jumping jacks. This is also a great time to incorporate some foam rolling. 2 to three sets of 10 reps are usually all that is needed.
In addition you may choose to perform a specific, or related, warm up where you do some practice sets for a specific exercise at low weight and intensity so that you can rehearse proper form and technique.
- Finally run though your workout plan in your mind and picture yourself completing all the exercises with ease and confidence.
Spending the correct amount of time on your warm up is important. Do too much and it will become a workout in and of itself. Do too little and you will not be properly prepared. 5-10 minutes of low to moderately strenuous activity is adequate for most warm ups.
Never do static stretching before a workout. Static stretches are those where you stretch a muscle while the body is at rest or in one position. Stretching “cold” muscles can increase the risk of injury from tears and pulls. Numerous studies have shown that static stretching will sedate your nervous system and make you weaker, inhibiting maximum strength and power.
Dynamic stretching on the other hand will stimulate your muscles and help rev up your nervous system for the activity ahead.
The best time for static stretching is at the end of the work out when your muscles and warm and pliable. There is some evidence that stretching after the workout may prevent muscle soreness and prevent injury between workouts.