Warming up is an often misunderstood practice, but it really is rather simple to grasp the key concepts and implement your own targeted warm up. I’ll outline the key points below….
1: A good place to start is the “warm up” portion. Perform a low to moderate intensity activity such as biking or walking on a treadmill to elevate your body’s temperature (hence “warming up” – mind blown right?). This will slightly increase the suppleness of your tissues (which may reduce injury risk), and as a bonus get your heart and lungs working a bit. 5 mins should be more than enough for general training.
2: Next I’d recommend some brief static stretching of the areas that will be worked. For instance, if you are planning on a run, you may want to stretch your calves, quads, hamstrings, and hips for say 2 rounds of 10-15 seconds per muscle. This can allow for more flexibility, as well as mobility of the joints, and also provides a screen for any un-noticed niggles.
3: Now that we’re feeling warm and limber, let’s start practicing what we’re about to do with a bit more vigour and specificity! To use the previous example of running, a few short 20s bursts of running on the spot or high knees would be great! Now we are further elevating the heart rate as well as putting a bit more dynamic tension through the legs – boom! Or for instance with the bench press, start working up through some light weights and making sure your technique is on point, while performing some back and shoulder exercises for stability.
And that’s it really – simple eh!
A few notes:
Not warming up does NOT doom you to catastrophic injuries, and warming up will NOT make your body bulletproof.
Warming up does have specific utility, and should be designed specifically for what you have in mind, but consider that what you are preparing for “specifically”, is often general exercise, so don’t overthink it!
The vast majority of the benefit of training is from the hard stuff, so if time is an issue, don’t spend 20 mins of your 45 min training window warming up if you don’t need to!!
TLDR: Warming up is simply preparing the body for the activities you have planned, while checking that everything feels ok.
Thanks and see you in the gym, Bysshe