What does your current warm-up look like? A quick jog around the gym? A few arm and leg swings? Some light stretches?
Although these quick and simple movements are better than nothing, it’s not enough to be considered a proper warm-up. Here are four tips to ensure that you get a proper warm-up before your next workout:
1. Don’t skip it.
A proper warm-up increases the blood flow to your muscles as well as your core body temperature. A warm-up makes your muscles more pliable. You’ll also loosen up your joints and increase your range of motion. And though you may not realize it, you’re also warming up your brain and other elements of the neuromuscular system. Ultimately, the benefit of completing a warm-up before your workout is that it decreases your risk for injury. So don’t skip it!
2. Prep for the movements of your workout.
Your warm-up is a great time to practice the movements that you’ll be doing later in your workout. Doing these same movements with no weight or less weight creates some muscle memory and reinforces proper technique and correct movement patterns.
3. Move from general to more specific.
The beginning of a warm-up can start with general movements involving large muscle groups, like walking, jogging, etc. As these large muscle groups warm-up, you can begin to refine the warm-up to include more specific exercises. If you experience tightness in certain muscle groups, you may move to specific warm-up exercises that target these tighter areas.
4. Move from static to more dynamic.
As blood flow to your muscles and joint flexibility begin to increase, your body becomes more and more ready for more dynamic movements. If you’ve ever jumped (literally) right into dynamic movements without a more gradual movement, you’ve probably experienced how jarring this can feel to your body. By the end of your warm-up, your body should be prepared for speed and agility.