“Just like a car engine on a cold day, our bodies need time to warm up before they can run smoothly,” says Christoper M. Norris, author of Weight training Principles & Practice

And he’s right. Preparing for training is almost as important as the workout itself. Weight training,  running, playing sports, whatever physical activity you are undertaking you will need to take some time to warm up first. If you have the time to workout make time for a warm-up session.

When our bodies are fully rested you cannot expect them to leap suddenly into an exercise. We must warm up our bodies gradually, loosening and gently warming the muscle tissues and joints.

You need to prepare the body for the exercises ahead. Many experts agree if you take the time to warm up first, you will be far less likely to cause yourself an injury. The last thing you want is to be laid up for 3-4 weeks because of an avoidable injury.

A good warm-up will increase the heartbeat and raise the blood pressure at a slow steady pace,  opposed to a sharp increase, resulting from jumping straight into exercise, that can be dangerous.

“The warmth generated from a good warm-up should increase the flow of blood through the tissues and allow them to stretch more easily,” says Christoper M. Norris.

What type of warm ups do I need?

20 years ago when I started weight training, I’d start with a few minutes on the bike and a few more minutes of static stretches, the stretches focused on the body part I was going to train that day; and a warm-up set with 50% of the weight I intended to start with.

There have been a few changes since static stretches are out…Why? there’s been a ton of research proving they do more harm than good.  Stretching is not warming up, stretches will not increase the blood and oxygen flow to your muscles, stretches can cause the muscles to over tighten rather than relax, especially if you’re cold before you stretch.

If you have just completed your 5-10 minute warm-up: on bike, rope or running,  and decide to continue your warm up with a few stretches, “Your body temperature, heart rate, and breathing rate all drop considerably once you stop moving. After a few stretches, you’re practically back to where you started.” says Nicole Nichols

Static stretching can help with flexibility, a gymnast may use a combination of both static and dynamic stretching. Weight training benefits far more from something more dynamic.

If Statics Out What’s In?

We recommend a dynamic warm-up, this approach uses stretches that are dynamic, meaning you are moving as you are stretching. It will improve your range of motion helping you feel more limber. An alternative approach that’s becoming increasingly more popular over the past 10 years.

Some studies have shown that performing dynamic stretches before a weight lifting workout can help you lift more weight compared to no warm up at all.

Pre Gym warm Up – Call To Action!

This may sound like overkill, but I promise if you’re new to the gym or a beginner, it’s very important to make sure you spend 10 minutes of your workout following this routine. Just 10 mins you can do it!

  • 3 – 4 minutes bike/rope/jog on spot
  • Dynamic Stretches – see video below – focus the stretches on body parts you will be using in your workout
  • 4 Warm-Up Sets
  • Set 1 – Just bar or dumbells no weight – helps you get form and prepares muscle – 12 reps
  • Set 2 – 25 % of your max lifting weight 8 reps
  • Set 3 – 50% 6 reps
  • Set 4 – 75%  4 reps

If you are just starting or have only been training at home/gym for a month or two and the dynamic stretches seem a little scary or too difficult, don’t worry. Ease yourself into them, try a few of the easier ones first. Easier ones are still too difficult? Relax you don’t have to use the dynamic stretches for your warm-ups.

Take a few more minutes on the bike or jog, but most importantly you must do the 4 warm-up sets before you start to lift your max weight, this is something we highly recommend doing and can’t miss out in your warm up.

Here’s Megan with her beginner dynamic warm-up video – Megan Dahlman

Full Body dynamic warm up video – BodyInspiredFitness

My Warm Up

My Warm-up hasn’t changed too much over the years, as I said earlier, static warm-ups are no longer a part of my pre-workout warm up. I’ll start with a 10 min run around the park with my dog, gives the dog a walk and warms me up at the same time, cool…A few Dynamic stretches and most importantly my 4 pre-workout sets, specifically targeted on the mucsle I’m going to be hitting.

Friends of mine believe there’s no point in a general warm up before hitting the weights, no dynamic stretches just the 4 pre sets, which is fine, it’s up to them. They’re experienced weightlifters and for some guys, this works best. I don’t like to take the risk myself, I think a general warm up first followed by your specific muscle warm up is far less risky.

It’s not worth pulling something for the sake of missing out 10 mins of warm up,  you could be out for a month through lack of warming up.

Sparta Strength below warms up in a very similar way to myself instead he’ll use a treadmill for a run.

Is Cooling Down Important?

“Cooling down after a workout is as important as warming up. After physical activity, your heart is still beating faster than normal, your body temperature is higher and your blood vessels are dilated. This means if you stop too fast, you could pass out or feel sick” says The American Heart Association

Most fitness experts believe cooling down is a vital part of our workout routine if we do it properly. If done properly it will help our heart rate and breathing return to normal, elps avoid dizziness avoiding blood pooling in the legs. reducing muscle soreness and stiffness. Cool down exercises are defined as a light exercise that helps your body transition from working hard to resting.

How do we cool down

  • This is the one time we can use the static stretch. Hold the strech for 30 seconds. Make sure you are targeting the muscles you worked out (dynamic stretches can also be used)
  • A short walk will help your heart rate return to a normal pace.
  • Hydrate – drink a glass or two of water, this will help decrease muscle soreness and increase strengh and flexibility
  • Drink a protein shake 20 minutes after your workout, this helps put the protein and carbohydrates back into the muscles, helps them rebuild and get stronger.