A lot of exercisers believe that you do not need to warm up before a workout. This is absolutely untrue. Not warming up before your main workout is a sure fire way to cause injury and put unnecessary strain on your muscles. Exercising without warming up causes your muscles unneeded agitation. Before you work out, your muscles are shrunken because you are not doing a lot of extended movements.
When you warm up, you are increasing the blood flow to your muscles and they slowly expand until they are ready to be pulled and pushed in your workout, then stretched and relaxed afterwards. Think of your muscles like rubber bands – before you workout they have been resting in the freezer and if you try to pull them too hard when they are cold they will snap – you have to gently stretch them and warm them before pulling them and using them to their full potential.
Your body cannot move without your muscles, so treat them with respect and warm up to avoid injuries – pulled or strained muscles can be very painful. Warming up can also alert you to any underlying muscle injuries you may have sustained from previous workouts so you don’t injure yourself further. Some of the strongest muscles in your body are in your upper body – your biceps, triceps, pectorals, lats, etc. – and they need to be properly stretched before you attempt any strength training, especially if it involves using weights. The more intense your workout, the more important it is to warm your muscles up, and the longer you should warm up.
In case you need more convincing, here is a list of the most important benefits of taking the time to do a proper warm up before the bulk of your workout:
- The temperature of your muscles increases – the warmer your muscles are, the more easily they can move for your workout and the larger range of motion and faster speed of motion you will be able to achieve
- Your body temperature increases, allowing your whole body increased flexibility due to your muscle elasticity increasing, which decreases the possibility of straining or pulling your muscles
- Your blood vessels will dilate allowing increased blood flow throughout your body – when your blood is able to move faster and more easily to your whole body, you will be able to perform your exercises easier because you are oxygenating those parts of your body
- You allow your body to be able to sweat better – it does not sound pretty, but you want to be able to sweat because this is how your body cools itself down as you exercise; sweat equals letting off steam
- The temperature of your blood increases, allowing the oxygen in your blood to be absorbed better by your muscles, improving your endurance
- Your range of motion is extended – warming up before the big event of your workout allows your muscles to test the waters instead of jumping right in, which in the end allows them to perform better
- Your hormones that affect energy production change – warming up is like telling your hormones that their break is over and they have to get to work processing the carbs and fats that you have eaten lately and turn them into energy for your workout
- Warming up exercises your brain too – the majority of your workout is mental, your body will not go where your brain will not let it, so warming up is your body’s way of telling your brain you are ready to exercise – you can focus on the benefits you will reap from your workout, use positive imagery to remind yourself why you are working out, and increase your focus so you can get the most out of your workout