Warming up. Arguably, the worst part of working out. I mean, who wants to breathe hard before we’re forced to breathe hard?
As much as we may want to avoid it, warming up is incredibly necessary and we all need to do it. With something this important, we'll keep it brief and straight to the point.
Here are the three main and incredibly important reasons to efficiently warm up prior to working out:
Helps Avoid Injury
Going into a workout cold does no one any good. The complaints to your coach, the creaky and popping joints—this not only sounds bad, but feels terrible as well.
Believe it or not, the warm up is a really good indicator of what to look out for in your training for the day. For example, if you squatted heavy yesterday, you may or may not be incredibly sore. Either way, the warm up is going to talk to you and tell you how to best navigate your training.
The increased blood flow will help relieve some immediate soreness. However, the warm up will most likely uncover where intensity and volume will need to be reduced for some of your planned exercises for the day.
An example of this is if you squatted a bunch one day and have some residual tension the next day. If you don't first warm where you're feeling tight, you can actually strain a hamstring pretty severely.
Moral of the story? Warm up properly, even if it’s a little cumbersome and annoying, to avoid weeks of rehab down the road. Be proactive. Not reactive.
Activates Muscle Groups
It's rare to see someone who has properly warmed up move worse than if they had jumped in cold. (Actually, that may not even be possible…) Most of the movement flaws you see in a gym or that your coach points out to you are likely due to lackof proper muscle group activation.
For example, if your job requires you to sit all day, you're likely going into a workout with inactive glutes and an inactive core. This makes a movement like the deadlift especially tricky.
To counter this, spend an extra ten minutes before your workout performing glute and hamstring activation exercises. This will take you from the agonizing “all back deadlift” to a proper hinge with strong glutes and hamstrings.
A tight muscle is a weak muscle. To be more specific, a shortened and tight muscle cannot perform a complete range of motion and any respective loading.
In order to improve your strength or work capacity in a safe manner, first work on improving your flexibility and organic range of motion. One of the best ways to do this? Stretching. More specifically? Proper stretching.
That means understanding that muscles typically don’t respond effectively to static stretching unless sufficiently warmed up. Take this example warm up as a starting point.
Example Warm Up
- 500m row (increase in speed every 100m)
- 100 single unders
- Couch stretch
- Pigeon stretch
- Foam roll back/ lats
- 20 slow banded good mornings
- Banded overhead distraction
- 10 Kip beats
- 10 Toes to bar
- 10 Cal Assault Bike Sprint
Want to learn more about how to optimize a workout? Check out our post on stepping up your CrossFit game in a few easy steps. Read it here.