Warm up –
So there’s always a warm up period in any class:
Normally a warm up is ‘class specific’ so warming up arms and torso in boxing more. Alas however, what do you do when in the gym on your own? How do you know what the best warm up is?
Well. One that actually makes you warm.
You don’t need fancy footwork or complex plans. You need to think about using the biggest muscles in your body (legs, core, back, arms) to ensure when you starting exerting more energy/force/weight through them, that you won’t hurt yourself or tear a muscle.
So what do I normally do? Really simple. Not everyone will think it’s the way to go, but I always do a similar warm up and I enjoy it.
Cardio factor warm up.
10 minutes or 1 mile on the treadmill.
I start with a walk for 3 minutes and then interval run until I either hit my time or my distance. Your distance or length of time can be whatever you want.
What does interval running really do? It means either:
- Running faster and faster by the minute (time period you set) then dropping down to a slower pace again. Then repeat.
- Increasing the incline each minute until you can’t do a full minute easily and drop down again. Repeat.
- Mixture of the 2. Increase speed and increase incline to find your ‘push’ point.
This warm up means that you can warm up your major muscle groups while also dipping into different energy systems. This will really get you ready for whatever workout you want to do.
While warming up, if you do not actually feel warm at the end and slightly out of breath, you haven’t really warmed up.
You can apply the same principles to any cardio equipment. Rower, stepper, elliptical.
Non Cardio Warm Up.
If you despise cardio, you can warm up with compound exercises. You still want to do 10 minutes to warm up properly.
Compound exercises are ones that use more than one muscle group and are normally the ‘bigger’ exercises. Squats, lunges, push ups.
They use the whole body with the aim of gradually building up the muscles you are using to prevent tearing.
If you wanted a more ‘exercise’ based warm up. You could:
Squat x 10
Lunge x 10
Walkouts x 10
If you wanted to add in some cardio, star jumps, mountain climbers will get you warm too.
Nothing fancy here, just get your muscles moving!
Stretch warm up.
So ‘stretching’ for a warm up, is not the same as stretching for a cool down. You want to be ‘limbering’ the muscles. If you have done an effective warm up, you may feel that you have some areas that are tighter than others, so a quick 5-10 second stretch will aid your warm up. Doing just a stretch as a warm up is not going to give you the same benefits as doing an active warm up for a gym workout.
If you are thinking about yoga or pilates, you will do a more ‘stretch’ based warm up but this will be specific to the type of workout you are doing. A more gentle waking up of muscles.
If you plan to work out in the gym, a stretch may just not be the effective limbering up that you need.
Warm up if you’re injured/pregnant.
Take longer. You may feel that you need to get in and out of the gym in your 20 minute-1 hour time slot. But warming up properly at a slower pace will be more beneficial and reduce injury. If you rush into a workout already injured or physically limited, you are more likely to hurt yourself.
Warm up summary
Think about your workout.
10 minutes is all you need for a standard workout.
If you are starting a running journey, warm up with a walk at different paces.
Gym workout, use the muscles you plan to workout.
Stretching is one way of warming up muscles but may not be enough if you are going to lift weights.
Take longer to warm up if you are physically limited in some way.