Most of the time at the gym I would tend to notice that people do not warm up before they go into heavy weights. So for example, sometimes a person might be working chest today and they go straight into the bench press area and start to bench immediately.
After I might hear them complaining about their shoulder or even their wrist or elbows paining. They tend scold the exercise and say that bench press are not good for your elbows or shoulders.
You might even hear them say squats are bad for your knees. This in all reality is not entirely true. Warming up inefficiently is bad for your shoulders and knees!
I also see some people warming up but not warming up properly. It is the lack of information provided to them that is the cause of this. I will now provide the information required for a successful warm up everytime.
Warming up is used to prepare the body for the physical activity ahead.
BENEFITS OF WARMING UP
1)INCREASE IN HEART RATE – As you warm up your body the muscles start to work ofcourse. As your muscles start to work it needs energy. Your muscles possess glycogen from food and this is used for energy. The muscles need oxygen to convert the glycogen into energy in a process called respiration.
Respiration is the process by which your muscle cells get energy. So as your muscles start to work it needs more oxygen so your heart rate increases to pump more oxygen to your muscles.
2)INCREASE IN BREATHING RATE – As your muscles need more oxygen for energy, your heart rate increases since your body demands more oxygen and as muscles demand more oxygen the only way to get more oxygen is to increase your breathing.
3)BODY TEMPERATURE INCREASES– As your muscles start to respire, energy starts to get produced. Some heat is produced in the process of respiration. So as your muscles respire some heat is produced and your body temperature increases which include your blood temperature as well.
4)RANGE OF MOTION INCREASES : With the proper stretches, blood flow will ofcourse increase to that particular area and as blood flow increases to that area allowing you to go deeper into that stretch and therefore increasing your range of motion.This allows you to have better form when performing an exercise as well!
5)INCREASE IN MENTAL FOCUS – Personally when warming up my mind tends to be in a focused state as I am preparing for the task ahead.When warming up it helps to mentally prepare you to become focus and to let your mind and body know what is the task ahead.When mental focus is increased you get a better workout! This is so because you can focus on the mucles that you are working.
6)PREVENTS INJURY– Warming up helps us to prevent injuries since our muscles and blood temperature is now increased ,the availability of oxygen and nutrients to muscles are increased and as this also increases our range of motion allowing our muscles to stretch further without worrying about pulling a muscle or damaging any body parts.
TIPS ON HOW TO WARM UP
1) DO SOME LIGHT CARDIO-Doing some light cardio gets the heart rate up which helps to increase blood flow and oxygen flow to the muscles.
This also helps to increase the muscle temperature and blood temperature as well.
This helps to prepare the muscles for the task ahead and helps to prevent injury.So for example, on a leg day, I tend to use the stationary bike at the gym.
The reason I use the stationary bike is because the bike involves all the muscles of the legs to work, the glutes, the quadriceps and the hamstrings and even the hips.
These are all the muscles involved in a squat or even a lunge and I highly recommend using the bike on leg day or even days when you have to deadlift.
On upper body days I might use the treadmill. I might take a light jog or even a fast walk on the treadmill.This helps to get the heart rate up and the muscles warmed.
When doing cardio warm ups I tend to keep it light, nothing too strenuous.Also keep the warm up somewhere between 6 to 8 minutes.
You do not want to do any intense cardio before lifting weights otherwise your energy levels will drop and you would not have all the strength that you usually have. What you can do is do your weights first and then do some intense cardio after to develop some fitness.
2) DO MOBILITY EXERCISES-Mobility is the ability of your joints to move through their full range of motion without feeling any stiffness or pain.So some of you might notice that when doing a squat your hips might feel tight or even if you sit all day your lower back might feel stiff or even your shoulders when doing a bench press.
You might even notice the day after working out a specific muscle group that the specific muscles feel a bit stiff the day after.This is where mobility exercises come in handy.
Mobility exercises are specific stretches which involve static stretching, dynamic stretching or holding a specific position for an extended period of time. So for example, before I bench press or overhead press I would do what you call a dowel stretch that stretches the chest and shoulder muscles.
Or when I do squats I would do a goblet squat with a kettlebell and hold that squat position for about 20-30 seconds which helps to open up the hips.
For ankle mobility I would do a calf stretch which is important for squats.This a wide topic to discuss but if anyone is interested in learning more about mobility you can check out my previous article here.
3)DO WARM UP SETS– If I am doing a compound lift, which I always start my workouts with, I always use the bar weight first to warm up. I would do a set of about 8-10 reps.
After this I would add some weight which feels really light and I would do a set about 6-8 reps. After I would choose a weight that feels relatively moderate and I would hit a set of about 2-3 reps.
This is also to get the nervous system warmed up for the big lifts ahead.After that set then I would jump into the heavy lifting.This is very important especially for injury prevention, because if you jump immediately in the heavy lifting you can seriously damage your self including the joints involve in those compound lifts.
In conclusion when warming up before any lifting in the gym I recommend doing a combination of all three which includes the light cardio, mobility stretches and the warm up sets.
I have done all these three before I start any lifting at the gym and it has done well for me. I never really get injured and my form in the gym has improved well over the years.I highly recommend doing these in the gym, give it a try and see the difference it makes for you in the gym!
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