The importance of warming-up

Ever since I was little and had P.E in school and played football, I learned to always warm-up before training. It’s something we’ve always done, even though many people don’t really know why or if it’s needed.

There are still lots of discussions about the importance of warming-up. From own experience I usually feel both physically and mentally more ready for a workout after a proper warm-up. I also know that we often skip it due to lack of time.

However, there are now many studies showing that warming-up is very important and here I try to outline some of the arguments for why we should warm-up.

In short, a warm-up is simply to prepare the body and mind to perform and to reduce the risk of injury. Most beginners are very good with warming-up and so are the elite. The largest group that don’t warm up properly is the group the most of us belong to. The ones who have been training for a while and don’t see the importance of a warm-up or feel they have the time for it, and therefore do a very short one or not at all.

Here follows a few arguments why we all should warm-up properly before every workout.

Performance is strongly improved by a warm-up. As we start to move, blood circulation will improve and muscles and joints will be ready to work-out. If we start at a too fast pace, the blood will not be able to pump out enough oxygen, and we will suffer from an oxygen debt and lactic acid in the muscles, which means we aren’t able to perform as well as we could’ve.

The risk of injury during training becomes much lower after a good warm-up. Both muscles and joints get warmed-up and as the body temperature increases, the muscles become more elastic and the risk of rupture decreases.

The mental preparation a warm-up gives you is also something to remember. It prepares our mind for what’s coming.

How do we warm-up in the best way?

A warm-up can be done in many, many ways and it should vary depending on the workout you will do on that day. Often it’s enough with 5-10 minutes warm-up with a gradually increasing load. But if you have been sitting down for the most of the day or if it’s a very cold day, the warm-up may take a little longer.

A good set-up for a strength training session can be to start with 5 min cardio. E.g. Jump rope, rowing, running or cross training. Follow that with some body weight strength exercises mixed with dynamic stretching. You can find a good warm-up here.

Before a run, you could start with a 5 min easy run followed by some high knees, heel kicks and lunge steps. Finish of the warm-up with some quick strides of 30-50 meters.

However, a warm-up can be done in a hundred different ways and the most important thing is that your heart rate is increasing and that your muscles are getting warm.

Start warming up and you will see great things happening in your training results and there is a much greater chance that you avoid injuries.