What Makes Pre-Workout Warm-Up Exercises So Important?

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What is a “Warm-Up”?

It's exactly what it sounds like: a warm-up! Warming up, also known as movement preparation, is the process of fully preparing your body for a task that is more skilled, intense, or of a longer duration than everyday life.

Warming up properly serves as a catalyst for key reactions, processes, and functions required for higher-level movement. The following are the most important aspects of a proper warm-up:

  • physiological prepping
  • psychological prepping
  • injury avoidance
  • enhancement of performance


A warm-up is the period of time and workload required prior to performing a higher-level task that allows the body to optimise all body systems for maximum output. Simply put, your body requires rest in order to function optimally. You can get up, put on your running shoes, and start running right away, but it will take you 8-10 minutes before your body and mind are ready to run well.

Why Do You Need to Warm Up 

A slew of more involved physiological and psychological processes must take place in order to reap the benefits outlined above. A proper warm-up will prepare the body by activating the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, as well as your actual body temperature and the neuromuscular (brain-body) connection.

Blood Flow and Nutrients:

To allow the muscles to receive the increased blood flow, your body must first shunt, or restrict, blood flow from daily life organs and tissues such as your digestive system. This does not happen in a matter of seconds. To begin, this process requires a cue or stimulus. When the stimulus is too strong, such as starting a run too quickly, your body does not have time to respond, putting you in danger of injury (or at the very least, keeping your muscles from optimal function).

To allow the muscles to receive the increased blood flow, your body must first shunt, or restrict, blood flow from daily life organs and tissues such as your digestive system. This does not happen in a matter of seconds. To begin, this process requires a cue or stimulus. When the stimulus is too strong, such as starting a run too quickly, your body does not have time to respond, putting you in danger of injury (or at the very least, keeping your muscles from optimal function).

Oxygen:

Your muscles, believe it or not, need to breathe! Muscles require oxygen in order to function properly. They can function with less oxygen for a short period of time. Sprinting and lifting weights are anaerobic exercises, which means that muscles contract with little oxygen. You can only sprint for a short period of time before your energy runs out. 

Jogging and dancing are aerobic exercises, which means the intensity is low enough for your body to transport oxygen to your muscles. In theory, if you eat and drink enough, you can exercise aerobically at submaximal levels until your body needs to sleep (which can take days!).

Heat:

Temperature has a significant impact on muscle energy and force output. Your muscles produce less force at lower temperatures. When your body temperature is low, such as when you first get out of bed in the morning, it is difficult to maximise muscle function and performance.

The metabolic activity in your muscles increases as your body temperature and muscle temperature rise to the level required for the desired activity. Simply put, at activity level temperatures, your body is faster and more efficient at using nutrients to create muscle contractions, resulting in improved performance.

With the proper warm-up, you will be faster, stronger, and more powerful, have better reaction time, be able to work out for longer periods of time, and your risk of injury will be reduced!

Everyone would buy it if you bottled it. But here's the best part: it's completely free! It only takes a few minutes of your time. No, you can't buy a "warm-up in a bottle," and your body doesn't have the instant response of a smartphone, but these powerful benefits can be obtained in minutes.

What Is the Best Warm-Up?


In a nutshell, it depends. Check out this video!

Wouldn't it be great if we could just hand out one perfect, one-size-fits-all warm-up?

Unfortunately, due to information chunking and the wide variety of athletic movements found in all sports and activities, it would be impossible to design a brief warm-up that covers all of the bases. For example, you wouldn't want a distance runner to do the same warm-up as a soccer player!

The variations in movement patterns (cutting, kicking a ball, throwing a football, triple jump to a pit) are all specific movements that must be incorporated into the warm-up. It is the differences in each sport that necessitate a sport-specific warm-up.

Second, the warm-up must evolve in tandem with the training. For example, as the football team progresses through the season, so must the warm-up. As the football team begins to practise new drills, the new drills should be included in the warm-up and should take the place of the older drills.

As a result, the more comprehensive answer is that it depends on the sport, training factors, and skills that need to be emphasised.

Is Stretching a Warm-Up?


It's common to see runners do a few quick stretches before jogging off, or athletes on the sidelines reach for their toes before beginning to warm up. For a long time, we were taught that stretching before activity helped to loosen up muscles and increase range of motion before play.

Static stretching (think reach and hold) has no benefit in terms of injury prevention, but it may temporarily improve tissue length. Most athletic activities require more than just increased tissue length. Static stretching also does not raise body or muscle temperature and does not engage muscles for priming.

Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, checks off the majority of the boxes for a proper warm-up. Stretching with movement or stretching in functional patterns related to sport is what dynamic stretching entails. Heat is generated by the movement, stretching improves tissue length and mobility, and functional movement patterns activate key muscles. Although dynamic stretching can be used as a warm-up, it does not maximise the body's full potential because sport movement is not specific. Dynamic stretching in conjunction with sport-specific practice is an excellent way to prepare for competition.

Takeaways

At the end of the day, one of the most important aspects of being active – and one of the most overlooked – is warming up. 

Whether you're an amateur or a professional, competitive or a hobbyist, you're still (probably) a human, which means your body needs to warm up in order to perform at its best. Most sports, according to the RAMP method, require 10-20 minutes of sport-specific warm-up to reap the benefits. In this article, we provided a few examples, and the principles that can be used to create your own routine.

If warming up isn't already a part of your routine, do yourself a favour and incorporate it. Who can argue with lowering your injury risk and increasing your performance (in a matter of minutes)?

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