If you are eager to start your workout or you’re pressed for time, skipping a warm-up can be very tempting. However, the importance of warming up cannot be overstated. Pre-workout preparation such as warming up provides physiological benefits and can help you psychologically as well!
(This post includes affiliate links for which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase)
Why Warming Up is Important: The Benefits of Pre-Workout Preparation
Warming up before working out prepares your lungs, muscles, and heart for the strenuous part of your workout. When the heat-dissipation mechanisms in your body are activated, your body can cool off efficiently. Preventing overheating is crucial, especially during demanding aerobic activities like cycling or running.
Warm-ups are divided into two sections: general and specific. When doing general warm-ups, you will focus on the big muscle groups. The main goal is to raise the heart rate gradually and get the blood pumping.
A specific warm-up is designed to target areas of the body you will use the most during your workout. During this phase, you can mimic movement patterns that will be used throughout the workout, at a lower intensity. This helps to prepare the nervous system for a safe and effective workout ahead.
Elly: Check out the dynamic stretch video below. A routine like this could be used for the specific phase of a warm-up.
Warm up considerations
The duration of your warm-up will depend on several factors. Some of the most important factors to consider include:
- Type of training
- Physical condition
However, the American Heart Association recommends that you warm-up for five to ten minutes depending on your workouts’ intensity. For instance, if you want to do a brisk walk, your warm-up can include slow-paced walking.
If you are preparing for more intense activity, appropriate workouts can include jogging and running. The point is to increase the intensity gradually from resting levels to the next phase.
Some of the reasons that warm-ups are an important part of pre-workout preparation
Warm-ups can improve your endurance
When you perform a warm-up, blood temperature increases as it travels through your muscles. As your blood temperature goes up, the binding of the oxygen and hemoglobin can weaken oxygen. This makes oxygen readily available to your working muscles, improving your endurance as a result.
Warming up helps the vessels dilate
When your blood vessels dilate, blood flow also increases. This places less stress on the heart.
Warming up can prevent injuries
When your muscles are warmed up, they can contract more forcefully and relax more quickly. This helps minimize the risk of muscle overstretching and injury. No wonder warming up is considered one of the most effective factors in orthopedic injury prevention.
When your overall body temperature increases, you can also improve muscle elasticity, enhancing your strength and speed.
Warming up can help trigger hormonal changes
When you warm-up, your body increases its production of certain hormones, including epinephrine and cortisol, which are responsible for the regulation of energy production. In addition, during a warm-up, the balance of hormones will make fatty acids and carbohydrates available for energy production.
Warm-ups help increase your motion range
Warming up before a workout allows your large joints like the knees and shoulders to reach their maximum movement potential with ease.
Warming up can help you prepare mentally
A good warm-up session can help you prepare for your workout mentally as it increases your focus, clears your mind, and enables you to review your strategy and skills.
Five Common Pre-Workout Preparation Mistakes and How to Address Them
Overall, warm-ups are one of the most crucial considerations for pre workout preparation. Let’s now take a look at one very important and often overlooked aspect of warm-ups.
Then we’ll address mistakes in four other commonly-forgotten areas of pre workout preparation. Once you know how to fix these mistakes you’ll be right on track for successfully preparing for a workout.
Below are five of the most prevalent pre-workout preparation mistakes and how you can fix them.
Warm-Up Fix #01: Warm-up based on your workout
Some light cardio and general stretches are often the go-to combos when warming up. However, it is ideal that you should warm up the muscles you are going to use. In other words, if you are going to lift weights, you should do super light sets that can get your body accustomed to the movements you’ll do when performing heavier sets.
This strategy can also help you set your form correctly and identify areas that feel weak or tight. If you are going to do cardio, the same principle applies. Go very light at first while preparing your body for more demanding work. This is why most marathon runners do an easy jog before the actual race, as it helps them ramp-up to full effort.
Elly: This principle is known as “specificity”. Make sure the type of warm-up you perform is specific to the workout that lies ahead. This will help to reduce the chance of injury and increase workout performance.
Warm-Up Fix #02: Always map out a plan
At times, going to the gym or working out can take every ounce of your energy, so much so that you don’t even have a plan for what you’ll do once you get there. Put an end to the drift around syndrome of doing half-hearted sets, picking up weights, and wandering over to the treadmills.
Those things are the telltale signs you don’t have something planned out. While getting some exercise done (regardless of whether it’s planned or otherwise) is better than not exercising at all, planning is still considered ideal. After all, it’s always better to know what you’re going to do so you don’t waste time and procrastinate.
Elly: If you need a personalized workout plan, I’m a qualified and experienced fitness trainer. Check out my online fitness programming and coaching services via the button below.
Warm-Up Fix #03: Fuel up before working out
One mistake most people make when it comes to pre-workout supplements and foods is consuming them too close to workout time. If your body is still working on your digestion, you might struggle to get sufficient energy for your workout.
It is also possible that you set yourself up for sprints to the bathroom or stomach cramps. Ideally, you should eat one to two hours before your workout. If you’ve neglected to plan appropriately and need to eat closer to your workout then snack on something that is easily digested, such as a banana.
It is also advisable that you keep track of how your workouts are going and when you are eating. Don’t hesitate to tweak your timing based on what you think is best for you.
Warm-Up Fix #04: Ditch your to-do list
One thing many people find challenging is staying focused during a workout. Most people tend to multitask in general, and they often bring this approach to their workouts. However, it’s not recommended if you’re after a focused and effective workout.
When you multitask during workouts, you won’t be able to enjoy all the incredible physical and mental benefits your workout offers. That said, make it a point to get errands, chores, work, and other things off your mind as you head into your workout.
One of the easiest ways to focus is to create a trigger in your brain associated with focus. For instance, as soon as you enter the gym, start your warm-up right away to let your brain know you are ready to focus and you mean business.
Warm-Up Fix #05: Pick a mantra
There are plenty of phrases and words that can inspire and motivate you to give your best at the gym each time you are there. Some might seem cheesy and cliche, but they do work. Your subconscious mind is not as cynical as your conscious self, so it’s likely to absorb the mantra.
If anything, the more you put emotions around what you are saying, the more power it has. Don’t shy away from experimenting with different phrases and words to determine what resonates with you best.
Elly: The mind and body are so closely connected, and in fact, inseparable. Heading into your workout with a mantra is one way to help get you into the right mindset for your workout.
You’ll find other ideas for cultivating a positive mindset in this post about adopting a weight loss mindset, and this one about NLP for weight loss. Note that the concepts can be applied to any health and fitness goal, not just weight loss.
Whilst it’s sometimes neglected, the importance of warming up cannot be overemphasized. Play around and experiment with various strategies until you find one that gets you energized and motivated to carry out any fitness adventure you have planned.
Remember to also consider other important areas for pre workout preparation. These include planning your workout, fueling up, and mentally preparing for what you are about to do.
Elly: If you enjoyed this post you might also be interested to read about voodoo flossing, trigger point therapy, and percussive therapy, all of which can be used as part of your pre workout preparation plan.
Please leave any questions or comments about pre workout preparation in the box below. We’d love to hear from you!
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these recommended service provider links, like an insurance broker, or a travel agent, I may earn a commission – at no extra cost to you. [For my full disclosure, please see my DISCLAIMER page].