The best analogy to the warm up is to think of your muscles and tendons as a rubber band. A cold rubber band wouldn’t be as pliable as a warm rubber band—it would probably break more easily if it was stretched too far. So warming up pre-workout is necessary to prevent injury and help you tap into your full range of motion in each exercise (which will actually help you be way more effective in said exercises).
But! It’s quite possible to warm up too much. A lot of what happens in the fitness industry is that a topic gets brought up and it gets beaten to death. How many times have you seen videos with dozens of warm-up exercises? When are you actually going to work out, right?
Here’s our take: You know what it feels like to work out when you didn’t warm up enough, right? (If not, we’ll fill you in: You’ll feel stiff and probably a little slow-moving. You won’t be able to get your full depth in a squat or gracefully execute an overhead press.) The key is to warm up until you feel good. Once you feel good, make it happen.
If you need more of a concrete answer, here you go:
If you’re training for aesthetic purposes, a few reps at incredibly sub-maximal effort of the exercise you’re going to be doing should be sufficient. For example: Say you’re going to do an upper-body or chest and shoulders workout. A set or two of slow push-ups, some shoulder circles, and some band pull-aparts should do the trick.
If you’re really going to be tossing some heavy weight, you could do a set of 2 or 3 reps with moderate weight. For lower-body stuff like a squat, deadlift, or leg days, you could do hip flexor stretch, hip swings, bodyweight squats, lateral lunges, and planks to wake your core muscles up. Follow that up with a set or two of sub maximal squats or deads, of say 5 reps at 50% max.
If you plan on doing a lot of explosive sports performance stuff, you’ll want to do what’s listed above, but with a bit more of the dynamic movements like a few lateral hops or jump squats. Do these all at a slow controlled pace to prep your nervous system along with warming everything up. For more, check out this post on warming up.
And since there’s not “right” way to do it, you may want to try:
This post-run cool down could work as a warm-up
This athletic warm-up is another good approach too
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Have a smooth start to your workouts. @__coachml from @evolveathleticclub says to focus on your breathing (big, full inhale, slow, full exhale) during this mobility circuit to get your body to release tension and get the full benefits. Use this before your workouts, or on rest/recovery days. Spider-Man’s – 2×8 / side Inchworms – 2×8 Pinwheel shinbox – 2×8 transitions Thread needle – 2×8
Other FAQs you may like:
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How do I get back into working out after taking time off?
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