5 Reasons to Warm-Up Before Training
This week in our “5 Reasons” to topic, I am going to cover why you should warm-up before every training session. Before going too far, however, I realize that there is a huge variety in warm-ups and by the end of this post you will know that a couple arm circles and leg swings aren’t a legitimate warm-up. One note to make before beginning, everyone has heard one time or another that a warm-up will help prevent injuries and while true, I hope to touch on a less vague level and tell you specific reasons why it will help prevent injuries.
Reason 1: Prepping your CNS for the following activity
Often when arriving at the gym, track, course, field, ect… a trainee’s mind will be elsewhere, whether it be work, play or the latest episode of that one soap opera they secretly watch. Well, going straight into an intense workout without 100% focus is the last thing you should want to do and spending a few minutes preparing your body for a workout can also prepare your mind. Warming-up has been shown to increase CNS function, most importantly coordination and reaction speed which will be pivotal to a great training session.
Reasons 2: Raising the core body temperature
One of the main focuses of warming-up to raise the temperature of the muscles and blood which is going to allow a greater range of motion and more laxity in the muscles. This is going to make the extension and flexion of each muscle go smoothly and hitch free. Remember in reason 1 how we touched on improving the CNS system? Well now, the CNS is prepped to send the proper signals to the body and the body is ready to receive them.
Reason 3: Joint lubrication and range of motion
We now have muscles ready to stretch and react but how about the joints? Another important job of the warm-up is to decrease the viscosity of the synovial fluid in the joint allowing it move and feel better. This is going to help increase joint range of motion especially while using a dynamic stretch. Lean towards dynamic stretching versus static stretching so you can actively increase your range of motion. A bonus to this is that you will get a feel for how your body is reacting today and what kind of position your neck, spine, and hips are in.
Reason 4: Get your body into proper alignment
Reason 3 leads us into reason 4, getting your body into proper positioning so you can safely and properly complete your training session. Your hips, neck, and spine need to be in proper positioning to allow mobility and stability. The better alignment you can create through myofascial release (foam rolling), dynamic activation, and dynamic stretching the easier the impeding workout is going to be.
Reason 5: Movement specific preparation
Our fifth reason is going to be the movement specific warm-up and preparation. Completing a warm-up that resembles what you are about to do, whether it’s a push-up for a bench press or a light jog before a sprint, will help groove the movement pattern of what is coming up and make the transition from a warm-up to exercise preparation. This movement specific warm-up should be separate and come after a general warm that prepped the mind, muscles, joints, and body positions and begins the change of focus from general training to the task currently at hand.
So if after reading this you feel that your arm circles and leg swings prepare your CNS to control the body, ups your core temperature allowing your muscles to fully extend and flex, lubes the joints up getting to a full range of motion, aligns your hips, spine, and neck, and grooves the movement pattern of what you are about to do, then have at it. For most people, however, that will not be the case and a more intensive warm-up consisting of foam rolling, dynamic stretching, activation drills, and a few movement preparation exercises will be beneficial and necessary.
Make sure you get a warm-up in before every training session, and cover as many of these points as possible in that warm-up to ensure a safe and awesome work-out.
- If you want some information on what to do for your warm-up check out this great article by Mike Robertson http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blog/warm-up/