Why warm up?

“Band walks, glute bridges, and Inchworms…again?!”

These are words we hear repeatedly echoing throughout the walls of ANCHOR on any given day. It’s no secret that a lot of people do not enjoy the warm up portion of their workout. It tends to be seen as a chore, a waste of time and not as a critical part of their workout. Normally when people warm up, it is done in a very routine manner, with a limited amount of focus or attention and “just going through the motions”. The truth is your warm up is a critical part for your workout and you should be paying particular attention to how your body feels and moves on that particular day.

A proper warm up readies the cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous and musculoskeletal systems by GRADUALLY increasing the demand on those systems versus just jumping in head first into an activity and risking an injury. Warming up increases your body’s core temperature. That increase in temperature dilates your blood vessels therefore increasing the blood flow and oxygen to your muscles. This delivery of oxygen increases the efficiency and elasticity of the muscle which allows you to have an increase in your range of motion. Your body will also increase its production of various hormones, including cortisol and epinephrine, which are responsible for regulating energy production. During the warm up, this balance of hormones makes more carbohydrates and fatty acids available for energy production. A proper warm up prepares your body and your mind, to accommodate the demands of the more strenuous activity that is to follow.

During your warm up you should conduct a mental checklist to assess your physical condition for that day. Is there any additional tightness, aches, pains, etc. you are feeling? This assessment will set the tone and provide more guidance for your performance level during the rest of your workout. Plus it will help to improve your technique, skill and coordination, particularly important for those who are more sport specific training and conditioning. Visualizing how you should look doing the movement will only make the actually practice of the movement that much better. For example, at ANCHOR we like to pattern the hinge movement that we use during our kettlebell and deadlifting sessions, in the warm up, by utilizing a dowel to keep our spines more neutral and to make sure we are hinging correctly before we pick up a kettlebell or barbell. This warm up allows you the opportunity to check your form and feel under minimal load to make sure you don’t feel extra tightness in the hamstrings and hips. This is also the time to ask yourself some questions to assess your own movement. Is your body reverting to a more high-hip position, are you bringing your knees to far forward and squatting? How is your breathing? These are just some of the things one must be thinking of besides counting out the reps as fast as possible just to get through the exercise.

There is no such thing as a perfect warm up. It will vary by the day, the individual and the movements you are prepping for during that session and how your body may feel that day. Check out our move of the month page to see some great ideas for warm up exercises and the proper way to do them.