Ever seen how an athlete prepares for the race? Or have you seen your favorite soccer team getting ready just before the big game? If you have, then you would have noticed that they engage in all types of stretching, jogging, running, etc. Why do they do it? Here is the simple physiology behind this – Your body is a dynamic system. When it is not put to full use, it will recruit only those areas of your body that are necessary and sufficient, and the rest goes into slumber. And when you want to bring these dormant muscles into action, you will find them to be dull and inactive.Which is why you need to warm up – to kick those muscles into action, and prepare them for use. A good warm up prepares you for greater exertions ahead, not only physically, but mentally as well.
Why do you need to do a warm up?
- Warm up for better blood circulation: For a great workout session, we need our body to circulate blood at an increased rate to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and to the heart itself. A warm up for 5-10 minutes will make the heart pump faster, and the blood circulation increases automatically, preparing us for the workout.
- Mental preparation and warming up: “A man becometh what he thinketh.” This effect is what works here. Mental preparation is required before heading for a tough workout session. You are actually programming your mind to handle the stress that is lying ahead.
- Avoid injuries: Suddenly lifting weights, without any preparation, makes you prone to injuries. Legs twist, ankles sprain, knees jerk, and above all, you lose the proper form. But once you warm yourself up, your muscles are ready to lift weights, and perform other exercises as well. The injuries during work out are, in
some cases, potentially fatal – but the risk of sustaining such injuries can be significantly reduced with a proper warm-up session.
Here are some great warm-up exercises, to get you prepared for your workout:
- Start with simple jogs in place: One of the easiest and simplest ways to warm up for any sport is to simply jog on the spot. You must ensure that you do not exert yourself too much. If you find yourself to be gasping for breath, then it’s a sign that you need to slow down. An ideal jog will keep you active, but never make you tired.
- Do simple on the spot jumping: This is another whole body warm up, wherein you ‘wake up’ all the fast twitch muscles. Perform simple jumps, and do not jump too high. When you feel exhausted, switch to other forms of warm up.
- Do jump rope exercises: A particular favorite of all martial arts experts, jump rope exercises warm-up your body like no other exercise. It mainly acts on the fast twitch muscles that are required for sports in which agility and quick reflexes are important.
After the general warm-ups mentioned above, do the following warm-ups, that will focus on each part of your body. Perform these exercises in the order in which they are listed:
- Toe touching with legs shoulder width apart (do this for ten counts).
- Bending at the hip from upright position to being parallel to the floor (do this for ten counts).
- Wrist rotation – clockwise and anti clockwise (do this for ten counts).
- Shoulder rotation- clockwise and anti clockwise (do this for ten counts).
- Elbow rotation- clockwise and anti clockwise (do this for ten counts).
- Shoulder flexion, extension, abduction (ten counts each).
- Elbow-knee touch (opposite side) [Shoulder width stance- upright posture].
- Elbow-knee touch (same side) [Shoulder width stance- upright posture].
- Head knee touch (alternate knees) [Shoulder width stance- upright posture].
- Neck flexion (five seconds).
- Neck extension (five seconds).
- Neck rotation (half) clockwise and anti clockwise (do this for ten counts).
- Trunk rotation (half) clockwise and anti clockwise (do this for ten counts).
- Trunk rotation (full) clockwise and anti clockwise (do this for ten counts).
- Running in place for ten seconds.
- Knee rotation-clockwise and anti clockwise (do this for ten counts).
- Alternate Ankle rotation- clockwise and anti clockwise (do this for ten counts).
- Standing on toes for ten seconds.
- Mountain climbers- five counts.
- Push ups- five counts.
- Pull ups- five counts.
- Double bar dips- five counts.
- Ab crunches- ten counts.
- Side crunches- ten counts.
- Free squats- ten counts.
- Jumping jacks- ten counts.
- Butt kicks- ten counts (each leg, five).
- Burpees- five counts.
After all the aforementioned warm ups, hold onto a squat rack and stretch yourself in all directions. Do one hand stretches first, followed by holding the rack with both hands. Then place your right leg high on the rack, and touch your knee with your forehead while your other leg is firmly on the ground. Repeat with the other leg.
There are loads of other warm-up exercises, which are specific to the workouts you do. But these regular warm up exercises are required every time you are heading to the gym or to the field. It is not only a necessity to warm up, but it also makes your workout session more enjoyable. So never forget your warm ups!
Recommended Video: 5 Reasons Why Stretching is Important