We all know before we head to the gym we should be warming up our muscles, but sometimes diving straight into a workout seems much more appealing.
Failing to warm up means your muscles will be tight before you start working out, so executing the perfect movement will be slightly more difficult.
“It’s important to get the muscles firing and the blood flowing through them by upping our heart rate,” said Tommy Wanless, master trainer at Speedflex.
So if you’re lacking inspiration behind your warm-ups and need a bit of a boost, read our explainer before you next head to the gym.
Why are warm-ups so important?
There are two reasons warming up our muscles is crucial before we go full speed ahead into our workout.
“A good warm-up is essential to help prevent injury and also to ensure that you can exercise effectively,” said Fiona Crossley, F45 Kingston co-founder and PT.
“Not only does it prepare the body for the workout ahead but it also prepares the mind.”
What’s happening to our body when we are warming up?
“The heart rate will start to slowly rise and you will find yourself getting slightly breathless,” said Wanless.
“You will feel the muscles starting to loosen off and will find your range of movement will become increasingly better as the muscles begin to warm.”
As the muscles warm up, the blood flow and oxygen supply to them increases. This activates the connections between your nerve and muscles, which improves the efficiency of movement.
Ultimately, we are preparing our body for the (more intense) movement that follows.
How long should we spend on warm-ups?
Wanless said anywhere from five to 10 minutes is sufficient enough to get all the muscles firing and the blood flowing nicely through the body.
Make sure you focus on all the major muscle groups during your warm-up and ensure you can feel your heart rate increasing.
What one warm-up would you recommend?
We asked Wanless and Crossley what warm-up they would recommend to give you a bit of inspiration.
Every minute on the minute (EMOM)
Wanless said to pick three exercises that are easy to put together in a circuit. You set a timer, then on each scheduled minute, do that exercise for a set amount of reps, and then rest for the remainder of each minute.
When the second minute starts you do the exercise again. Repeat this process until your warm-up time is over.
Focus on areas prone to injury
Crossley said focusing on the larger muscles and warming up areas that are prone to injury is another good place to start. She suggested:
1. Lower back warm-up - lie on the floor, shoulders pressed to the ground, bend the knees and then rock the lower body side to side.
2. Hamstring warm-up - stand straight, arms outstretched to the side for balance, lift one leg and swing it forward and up, repeat several times on each side.
3. Shoulder warm-up - get into a strong plank position with straight arms. Perform alternate shoulder rotations in which you support yourself on one arm while the other arm is swung in a wide arc as if you were swimming.