Do you pay attention to how you warm up for your gym workout? Often times you may be so kicked to get started that you might rush through it or completely skip it. If you are one of those people who spend enough amount of time and effort on a proper pre-workout warm-up, kudos to you. You are a rarity!
Warming up is one of the critical factors to prevent injury during a workout. It sounds clichéd but it really is. I have seen too many injuries arising from gym workouts due to a lack of warm up. Often people ask why it is so important. It’s a fair question. Let’s imagine your workday where you have been sitting for hours together in one position. You have done this for years. As a result, your muscles have shortened and become taut like rubber bands. Imagine unused rubber bands that have become hard and semi-brittle. One fine day you decide to extend these rubber bands to its full capacity. The result? Snap! The same happens to muscles that haven’t been warmed up enough. They undergo micro-tears and trauma leading to injury.
So what should you do to warm up? It doesn’t have to be complicated. A few dynamic movements that involve all or most of your joints will do the trick. Static stretches have long ago been proven to be not beneficial before a workout; rather using them for a cooldown will be well-rounded injury prevention.
Dynamic drills not only prepare your muscles and joints for action, but it also does many other things. It improves circulation overall, gets your heart and lungs ready, activates your central nervous system and will help you maintain proper form during the workout.
So what kind of dynamic warm-up should you do? You should pick a few global exercises that warm up the heart and entire body and a few should be targeted towards individual muscles that you plan to work out that day. For example, if you plan to work chest and shoulders today your warm-up must focus on upper body warm up more than lower body. A good 10 to 15 minutes must be spent on appropriate warm up to be thorough. Just getting on the treadmill for 10 minutes does not suffice as one!
Let’s see some examples of dynamic drills that you could include:
1. Skipping rope/ jump rope-3 minutes. Using areal skipping rope is better but if you don’t have one pretend you have one and mimic the action. This warms up the whole body and gets your heart pumping.
2. Jumping jacks- 50 repetitions. Do a full movement instead of a halfhearted one. Pull your shoulder blades back, reach up, try to touch your hands and back. This one also warms up the whole body. If 50 repetitions are difficult, you could do 2 sets of 25.
3. Standing leg swings- 20 forward and 20 sideways- Keeping your torso upright slowly swing your leg forward and sideways. This warms up the hips, core and back.
4. Push-ups- 20 repetitions. Keep form correct, take breaks as per fitness level. This will warm up your upper body well.
5. Shoulder rotations- 30 repetitions. Holding arms straight out to the side, move your arms in a circular motion, making bigger circles each time. This will warm up your chest, shoulders and neck.
6. Body weight squats- 20 repetitions. Arms overhead, do squats with torso upright and proper form. This will warm up your glutes, core and legs.
The day that you plan to do upper body, add a few more upper body warm-up exercises and the day that you do legs, focus your warm upon core and legs. Remember core and back should we warmed up every single time to prevent injuries.
Spend a little time on an appropriate and thorough warm up before your workout and you can soon achieve your fitness goals without injuries.