Why do we need to warm up before a workout?
We all have seen that professional athletes are doing a warm-up before starting the competition. But why is there a need to stretch, bend, twist? Is it overrated? Is not!
It is easy to treat the warm-up only as something that we need to do before the real workout starts. However, you must know that the warm-up needs to be done in the right way and at the right intensity.
When you warm-up before any kind of workout, either through dynamic stretching or through physical movements at a low intensity you prepare your body for:
Increase the heart rate
What is nicer? To be awakened by throwing a cup of water over you or gently with a good cup of coffee? The answer is obvious. And also this is the case of your own heart.
By starting your workout with a good warm-up you will prepare your heart to gradually increase the heart rate. In this case, you will prepare your heart for an intense workout with high beats per minute, then a sudden increase in intensity.
In this way, you will not put pressure on your heart. And that’s why it is a must to do five to 10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise to pump blood in your body. By pumping blood in your body your heart rate will increase gradually. As a result, your body will adapt to the need for oxygen when you’ll train.
When you start the warm-up, your synovial joints (think about the shoulder joints, knees) will start to release synovial fluid to protect cartilage from the ends of the bones. As muscle fibers begin to stretch you will start to see better mobility of your limbs. The improvement is due to your increased body heat and relaxing the fascia that covers your muscles.
You will enter the workout zone after a few minutes of repetitive effort. This will make your muscles become more flexible and the oxygen supply that arrives will delay the build-up of lactic acid. Therefore you will train more at a higher intensity.
Another improvement will be your overall flexibility by increasing the movement’s range. But this should not be obtained by performing static stretching, instead, it is a must to do dynamic stretching. The risk here is that you can over-stretch your muscles.
Increase performance levels
The question here, is your performance will increase after warm-up? Or it just preparing your body for effort?
A study that has been done in 2010 by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research revealed that the performance of the test athletes has been increased with 79%.
So, let’s say you are doing long jumps and you start directly from a resting state. And your jump is 4 feet in length. After a proper warm-up, you will repeat the same jump. What do you see? Now you have jumped 7.61 feet ( 90 inches). Is not that great?
However, the same study showed that the effect of the warm-up will last 30 minutes max. This means that if you did the warm-up and you didn’t start your training in half an hour, you need to do it again.
Warming-up is not only to prepare your body but also it helps your mind. By doing a dynamic stretching (warm-up) the body is telling your brain that he needs to be prepared for a period of great effort.
As your body temperature starts to increase your mind will be more focused on the exercises. This will put you in a more confident state of mind and helps to keep you competitive and alert, which improves your reaction time.
Finally, doing the warm-up your brain will start to release endorphins in small doses. These chemicals that are naturally released will trigger a positive feeling in your body.
After workout stretching
OK, you are done with your training and you hit directly the shower. But what about stretching? You have punished your muscles, but they need a cool-down period.
This is neglected, but it is important to return your body to the resting state.
By performing stretching after a workout will slow down gradually your heart rate allowing your muscles to be fed with oxygen and nutrients.
During the training period, your body is producing lactic acid. Doing a warm-down will help to eliminate lactic acid. This will help by reducing your muscle soreness.
Therefore, allow yourself 5 to 10 minutes of stretching to feel better after your workout and that the post muscle soreness will be reduced a lot.
We all know that a warm-up before a workout session will help us to have good training. It will reduce the risk of injury and we will enjoy productive workouts. All the studies are showing that the most important in a workout is increasing body temperature. This can be easily obtained by jumping rope, running on a treadmill or cycling for just a few minutes.
Secondly, after the body temperature was raised, you will need to focus on the muscle that will be used the most in a workout. This will prepare those muscle categories to be more flexible during training.
In a conclusion, either you will go to a gym to do weight, to work on an air rowing machine or to a Crossfit gym, a good warm-up between 5 to 10 minutes is mandatory for your well being.