Arriving at the gym, you’re pumped to smash out 5k on the treadmill or lift some 50kg. But hold up! Take time to warmup before a workout – here’s why it’s super important to take 10-20mins before hitting it hard.
What is a warm-up?
Put simply, a warm-up is low-level activity before you play sport or do exercise. Typically a warm-up gets your heart pumping and your muscles activated.
If you warm up effectively, you will stimulate your cardiovascular system. This will pump more blood to your muscles and increase their temperature. When this happens, your muscles are able to contract faster, reflexes are improved and your muscles become more elasticated. This means that they can react faster to the exercise you do, because they are more malleable, which prevents injury.
Research suggests that warming up before playing sport or doing a workout enhances your performance (1). When your muscles are warm, your range of movement is greater which allows you to move as best to your ability. This is why sport-specific warm-ups are essential – depending on which sport you play, you’ll need to activate and warm up different muscle groups.
When you feel warm and your muscles are more stretchy, you’ll feel as though you can achieve more. If your body is pumped, you will be too! The light exercise you can do as a warmup will also clear your mind so you can take on the challenge ahead.
What kind of warm up should you be doing?
An efficient warmup depends on what exercise you’re about to do. For most sports, a cardio-based warmup will be useful. If your heart is pumping, your muscle will get warm and you’ll feel supple for exercise. A cardio warmup is especially effective if you’re playing a sport that involves a lot of running. For weight training, do 10-20 minutes of cardio then some activation exercises to wake your muscles up. If you’re about to do exercise that requires a lot of flexibility it’s a good idea to do some dynamic stretching after some cardio so your muscles don’t cool down.