You know those days where time seems to be moving at hyperspeed and you end up hauling ass at 50mph down the road, just so you can make it to class 10 minutes late? What about those days where you just don’t feel like doing the warm-up so you just skip it completely or give less effort than you normally would? Believe it or not, the warm-up actually plays an integral role in your workout and skipping it or not being engaged throughout your warm-up could being doing you a disservice when it comes to your training.
A proper warm-up prepares you both physically and mentally for the stressors of your workout to come. On those days when you are late, or you just decide to skip the warm-up entirely, you are limiting your success in training strength, power, and the amount of energy you can give to a workout. You are also increasing your likelihood of injury, which could seriously sideline your progress. To avoid these setbacks all together, it’s well worth the time and effort to warm up!
Benefits of a Proper Warm-Up:
- Increases joint viscosity (lubrication of the joints), which increases joint efficiency and decreases wear and tear over time.
- Increases body core temperature.
- Increases range of motion for joints and muscles so they have the ability to stretch and maintain stress without causing injuries or muscle tears.
- Increases neurological response or rate coding which increases the speed and strength of the electrical current from the brain to the muscles firing.
- Increases muscle activation or proprioception, that ensures the muscles are firing at full potential before training. This increases performance and decreases injuries (6).
- Increases muscle coordination.
- Increases body readiness (individual is prepared for the stressors of the workout) that increases performance (2,4).
In order to achieve these benefits, however, you must also ensure your warm-up is balanced and hitting all the muscle groups that will be used in your workout or sport, adequately. Over the last 20 years, exercise scientists and strength and conditioning coaches have been researching the best methods of warming up that will prepare you for training or sport. Research articles, provided at the end of this write-up, are referenced in parenthesis next to each bullet if you’d like to dig deeper into the topic.
What does a proper warm-up look like?
- Warming up for 10-15 minutes before lifting and activity, will decrease the likelihood of injury, especially hamstring strains and ACL tears (11,12,13,14).
- A proper warm up including dynamic mobility, proprioception, body preparedness can increase sprint performance, power output, and strength, anywhere from 1-20%, compared to individuals with no warm-up. The percent increase depends on trained vs. untrained athletes, and the type of exercise and activity (1,2,4,5,9).
- Proprioception will help increase sprint and running performance in elite and recreational athletes (6,10,).
- Proprioception and dynamic warm ups will decrease the like hood of hamstring strains and ACL tear in sprinters, runners, and recreational athletes (2,4,10,11).
- The main reasons for injuries in the weight room are lack of warm up (15).
Fortunately, we take care of the thinking for you at SLC S&C, and create a well balanced warm-up, specific to the work we’ll be doing in the weight room that day. Generally speaking, common components of a SLC S&C warm-up are as follows:
- Walking mobility to work through ranges of motion in the hips and start to integrate balance.
- Continual movement to increase blood flow to muscles.
- Speed mechanics to incorporate quick movements that will continue to warm the body as well as get the muscles firing at a higher rate.
- Core work to activate stabilizing muscles through the core.
- Spine mobility to mobilize and warm up the spine, specifically the thoracic spine.
- Workout specific movements to further prepare for the workout.
Bottom line, take your warm-up seriously and definitely do not skip it. If you’re unable to make it to your class on-time, take five minutes to get properly warmed up before jumping into the work.
For more information on this topic, we’ve provided several peer-reviewed research articles for your pursuing below. If you’d like to talk with a coach more on this topic, please reach out, we’d love to chat!
1-Lawton, T., Cronin, J., Drinkwater, E., Lindsell, R., & Pyne, D. (2004). The effect of continuous repetition training and intra-set rest training on bench press strength and power. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 44(4), 361-7.
2-McGowan, C. J., Pyne, D. B., Thompson, K. G., & Rattray, B. (2015). Warm-up strategies for sport and exercise: mechanisms and applications. Sports medicine, 45(11), 1523-1546.
3-Gourgoulis, V., Aggeloussis, N., Kasimatis, P., Mavromatis, G., & Garas, A. (2003). Effect of a submaximal half-squats warm-up program on vertical jumping ability. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 17(2), 342-344.
4-Bishop, D. (2003). Warm up I. Sports medicine, 33(6), 439-454.
5-Burnley, M., Doust, J. H., & Jones, A. M. (2005). Effects of prior warm-up regime on severe-intensity cycling
6-Faigenbaum, A. D., Kang, J., McFarland, J., Bloom, J. M., Magnatta, J., Ratamess, N. A., & Hoffman, J. R. (2006). Acute effects of different warm-up protocols on anaerobic performance in teenage athletes. Pediatric Exercise Science, 18(1), 64-75.
7-Bishop, D. (2003). Warm up II. Sports medicine, 33(7), 483-498.
8-Fradkin, A. J., Zazryn, T. R., & Smoliga, J. M. (2010). Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(1), 140-148.
9-Cochrane, D. J., Coley, K. W., Pritchard, H. J., & Barnes, M. J. (2015). Vibration exercise as a warm-up modality for deadlift power output. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 29(4), 1033-1039.
10-Silva, L. M., Neiva, H. P., Marques, M. C., Izquierdo, M., & Marinho, D. A. (2018). Effects of warm-up, post-warm-up, and re-warm-up strategies on explosive efforts in team sports: A systematic review. Sports Medicine, 48(10), 2285-2299.
11-Shellock, F. G., & Prentice, W. E. (1985). Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries. Sports medicine, 2(4), 267-278.