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How many of you go to the gym and dive straight into your working sets?
I can tell you now, going from sitting in an office to suddenly putting your body under strain is a sure-fire way to getting yourself injured! Taking just 5-10 minutes warming up before your workout begins, will significantly decrease your chances of injury and allow you to keep progressing in the gym. Here are my 3 tips to a perfect warm up:
- Pulse Raiser
The first thing you should do when you begin your workout (especially if you have come from a day of inactivity) is perform 5 minutes of a low intensity exercise e.g. a treadmill, static bike or rowing machine. By doing this a few things are being achieved:
- It allows you to prepare yourself mentally for the workout ahead.
- You raise your heart rate in a controlled manner (safer than spiking your heart rate straight away).
- Your muscles heat up, making them more elastic and pliable, thereby reducing the risk of a muscle related injury occurring.
- The synovial fluid in your joints heats up, allowing the joints to move more freely and smoothly (this fluid gets thicker when we are inactive).
For these reasons, this first step is the single most important component of any workout and should ALWAYS be included.
For those who do not know what mobility means in relation to the human body, it is the degree to which an articulation (where two bones meet) can move before being restricted by surrounding tissue – the range of uninhibited movement around a joint.
Once the core body temperature has been raised, putting your body through a range of motion without additional loading (i.e. using any weight), will allow your body to safely move into positions which it may have not been put through, since the last time you were in the gym i.e. most people don’t squat outside of the gym.
There are numerous exercises you can do but going through the motion of the exercise you are about to perform, without any weight, will do wonders for keeping your body injury-free and promote training longevity.
This is an optional bonus step which only needs attention if you are really pushing yourself to lift maximal loads.
By mobilising, you increase your range of motion (ROM), so you can work through a greater movement pattern safely. This is due to developing both a more powerful and inherently stable motion as the little stabiliser muscles start to add greater input. This occurs over time, as the stabilisers adapt and strengthen to the new stimulus brought about by the increased ROM.
If you take anything away from this, please remember to perform a pulse raiser warm up before exercising. Lifting weights is only one small component of training, if you invest even a little bit of time in mobility and stability, your body will thank you in the long run.