3 Essential Components of Your Gym Warmup Routine
A warmup is an essential part of staying injury free and being able to push yourself to new levels of fitness. No matter what your age is, or if you have ever had an injury before, you must be warming up.
Failure to warmup can lead to the following problems
Reduced muscular performance
Increased risk of joint/muscle injury
A feeling that you can't get the most out of your workout
Decreased motivation since you keep hurting yourself which might keep you out of the gym
If you spent the day at your desk job sitting for a few hours, or if you are like many of us that commute for long distances in our cars, you will definitely need to get your body ready for activity. This applies if you are going for a light jog or an intense 60 minute strength training session. Here are the minimum essential components to include in your routine.
3 Essential Elements of the Warmup
1. Low intensity aerobic activity - this literally increases your body's core temperature and causes a shift in the blood flow in your body. Your heart rate and breathing rate will increase, your blood will begin to flow into the muscles, the joints, tendons, and ligaments will become more elastic and ready for whatever you may throw at it. I recommend at least 5 minutes of low intensity cardio, but you should aim for 10. Good choices are walking, the stationary bike, elliptical trainer or others.
2. Open those hips! Nine times out of ten, the hips and lower back at the regions of the body that are the most stiff and tight, and should be specifically warmed up. The following few stretches will help you to open your hips and lower back to get you out of your gym routine. I have included some of the staples in the routine in the slideshow below:
3. Exercise specific warmup: The next component of the warmup is to perform the specific exercise that you would like to be doing at heavier weights. In addition, it is good practice to keep the most challenging work at the beginning of the workout. For example, if you are planning to train squats, you will want to perform the compound movement of the barbell squat at the beginning of your session. Start with just the bar, perform 10-15 reps, and repeat with gradually increasing weight until you have reached your working sets. If you are planning a general strength routine, simply start with your first exercise at about 50% of your usual weight lifted and use that as your specific warmup.
Note: Don't ignore pain. Your body is trying to tell you something. If you need to spend just a few more minutes on a certain area to get it ready for exercise, you should. If you aren't sure if the pain you are having is a normal part of exercise or if its something more, come on by to The Clinic and have a chat with me.
Photos by: www.hep2go.com
Nadir Mawji is a Registered Physiotherapist at The Clinic. You can learn more about him here.