In the years that I have been involved in the fitness industry I have heard and seen countless reasons that people do not warm up. You are short of time. You're excited to try out that new technique. You never normally warm up and you get on fine. You feel self conscious. You don't know how to warm up correctly (we'll address this in a minute). You may understand the importance of warm ups, but those around you aren't warming up. If so many people get away without warming up, is it really necessary?


In short, yes. If you're short of time and want to fit in a work out I would argue for keeping your warm up and cool down, forgoing the 'main' segment entirely in favour of the 'accessory' elements. When planned and performed correctly, your warm up is your best training buddy for the reasons listed below...


Benefits of Warming Up

1. Increased blood flow to ligaments and tendons, increasing their elasticity.

Ligaments connect bone to bone, tendons connect muscle to bone. These vital structures have poor blood supply when compared to our muscles. Their poor blood supply means injuries (traumatic or repetitive strain) can take a long time to heal. Warming up increases the temperature of and blood supply to ligaments and tendons. This makes them more elastic and better able to cope with the movements and stresses involved in your main work out, meaning a reduced chance of injury.

2. Increased joint lubrication.

Joints have many features which help us move smoothly and friction free. Synovial joints contain a lubricant - synovial fluid - which allows the cartilage covered ends of our bones to glide over each other. As we begin moving, our bodies increase the production of lubricant in our joints allowing us to move freely during our main work out.

3. Increased body temperature, heart rate and blood flow to muscles.

The heating effect increases the suppleness of your muscle fibres allowing you to work in a wider range of motion. Combining that with our extra lubricated joints, and elasticated ligaments and tendons means moving after a good warm up will feel easier and help you safely work in a larger range of motion than you would without your warm up.

The increase of your heart rate and blood flow to muscles will improve your gas and nutrient exchange. This means your body can replenish depleted oxygen in your working muscles and remove waste products more efficiently, helping you recover from 'the burn' more effectively during your workout.

4. Primes the neuromuscular system.

Practising the movements about to follow and 'waking up' our muscles primes our nervous system to give accurate signals to our body. A primed neuromuscular system is more effective at recruiting muscle fibres, and givesyou improved reaction times and increased coordination!

5. Mental preparation for the session ahead.

It can be hard leaving life at the door when working out (whether at home or the gym), but taking the time to pay attention to your body can help with the session ahead. During your warm up you may notice a particularly tight muscle group. Knowledge is absolutely power, and knowing you are tight gives you the chance to address it and prepare for the movements ahead. This focus on your body helps to bring you away from planning that meeting on Monday, and gets you well and truly in the zone.



How to Warm Up

Warming up is a great use of your time with some great benefits!

1. Increased blood flow to ligaments and tendons, increasing their elasticity.

2. Increased joint lubrication.

3. Increased body temperature, heart rate and blood flow to muscles.

4. Primes the neuromuscular system.

5. Mental preparation for the session ahead.

Knowing all of the benefits to warming up might increase our motivation and discipline about doing them, but it doesn't tell us how to do a good warm up. If you would like to know more about warming up and get advice and support to make your warm ups they best they can be why not try our free mini-course How to Warm Up?



[Published 11th September 2018]