Going through the motions is just as bad…
I know, the warm up is not the “sexy” part of your work out, but it is a very important part. The warm up takes place when your body feels the worst. It is often the most boring part of the work out. Some may not know what makes for a good warm up, or not understand the value behind it, so they skip it.
Your warm up should prepare you mentally and physically for your work out. A good warm up will include mobility drills designed to increase your range of motion (ROM). It will include something that makes your body temperature increase, and build up some sweat on your skin. It may include some skills practice to prepare you for specific exercises in the work out. A good warm up will also get your brain and body in sync by stimulating your Central Nervous System (CNS).
You could have all those elements programed into your warm up, but if you skip it, or just go through the motions, you are missing out on the benefits.
If your coach has programed the warm up to include mobility drills, you should be trying to accomplish those drills with intent. To actually see an increase in your mobility, you MUST get your body past its comfort zone. Poor mobility results from lack of use, either because you don’t need/ use that range of motion in your normal day, or you have had an injury that resulted in decreased ROM. If you just go through the motions, sort of do the drill, but not really forcing a deeper ROM, your body will NOT change. For most, having increased ROM before loading your exercises, will help reduce the risk of injury.
Increase Body Temp:
Let’s be honest, cold things are stiffer, warm things are more pliable. Increasing your body temperature will help with your mobility, but it also get blood flowing through your body. This blood helps deliver oxygen and energy to your muscles. It will elevate your heart rate, so your body can be more efficient at delivering the oxygen to your muscles. Think about how many times you have started to work out feeling stiff and tired. Then half way through you begin to feel much better. Use the warm up to get the body feeling better, so you can maximize your performance during your workout!
If there are challenging exercises programmed into your work out, practicing those movement patterns before your add weight to them is a good idea. Your body will respond to repetition, as long as your keep your focus and try your best to maintain the correct movement patterns. If you are distracted, and just sort of doing it, you are reinforcing poor movement patterns. Those poor patterns will carry over to your work out, but are now more dangerous because you are likely adding intensity to them.
Central Nervous System:
This is the big one. People talk about the “mind muscle connection” because it is hugely important in your success with fitness. Learning to control which muscles you use, and how you are using them can yield you much greater results, and decrease the risk of injury. I will dive into this more in another post. For now, use your warm up to clear your head of all the junk that is not helping your reach your goals. Focus that brain power on feeling what is happening with your body. What does it feel like when you move this way or that, what areas of your body feel tight, or loose. What muscle do you have mastery over, and which ones are giving your the blank stare of a toddler watching Youtube when you ask them to perform. If your brain is wandering, how can you expect your body to get it right?
My small group sessions include about 15 minutes out of the 1 hour workout aimed at warm up. This includes 5 minutes to foam roll, or stretch if they prefer, and about 10 minutes worth of a warm up circuit. I believe most of my clients (whom are paying me for this time), understand the importance and value of the warm up. If they don’t, hopefully they are reading this blog, and will lie to me when asked, or else…:)
Before your next work out, plan for a longer, more focused warm up. You will be happy you did!