Whether you’re a beginner or a pro at working out, it takes a lot of determination to push yourself to hit the gym every day. Given that most of us run on a very tight schedule with back-to-back work commitments throughout the day, often you will feel like giving up on the workout itself, and a good warm up is often out of question. Even though it’s something we’ve heard a zillion times, we don’t give warming up its due importance in a workout as we’re eager to get to the ‘main thing’. So folks here’s a reminder to take your warm up sessions as seriously as the workout itself! A proper and dynamic full-body warm up is a prerequisite to having a great workout. And while now you agree with us, here’s bringing to your notice, 8 warm up mistakes you are probably making.
Duh! The worst mistake you can commit is skipping the warm up altogether and jumping to lifting heavy weights or running on the treadmill at high speed. If you usually omit to warm up prior to your workouts, you are in for some serious injury. Warming up is not a waste of time as it prepares your body for strenuous exercises ahead. Trust us, your body won’t react in the best way if you take it by surprise and head straight to lifting a 10Kg dumbbell. In addition to setting the tone for your workouts, warming up properly mobilizes your joints, activates and prepares your muscles, promotes better blood flow and circulation, elevates the heart rate gradually and not abruptly, and improves strength and power development by stimulating movement, balance, and flexibility. It also prepares you mentally for the workout. Ah! So many benefits are definitely not worth skipping.
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As minutes go by, you are enticed by the idea of cutting a few minutes off your warm up and heading to the weight room a little sooner. But it might do more harm than good! As already stated above, you are in for a loss if you think you are wasting your time while warming up and simply rush through it. You won’t be able to fully fructify the benefits of your workout if you don’t prepare your brain for what’s coming next. Ideally, you should devote around 10-15 minutes to it before hitting the main workout. It’s time you change your notion about warming up and give it its due credit and importance. Indulge your full body in a dynamic session that includes light cardio, mobility work, stretching, and warm up sets.
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Many people start their warm up sessions by indulging their bodies in static stretches which involve holding a stretch for 30-40 seconds or more. It’s beneficial, but only towards the end of the workout. It actually cools down your body and brings the heart rate and temperature down while signaling your muscles to relax. Hence, it’s the opposite of warming up and should be saved for the last. Instead of static stretching, the best way to get started with your warm up is by performing dynamic stretches. This means moving your joints with no resistance through their full range of motion, rather than holding a position static. For e.g. arm circles and ankle rolls.
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Ballistic stretching involves fast bouncing movements in a stretched position. Basically, you bounce in and out of a stretched position to try and force a deeper range of motion, like hopping or jumping jacks. It can be a good secondary warm-up but is abrupt to your body as the first move as muscle has not relaxed enough to enter it. This is not useful and actually, often leads to injury! Ballistic stretching is better done after dynamic stretches.
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Let’s admit it, many of us feel too lazy to do cardio and head straight to warm up exercises like stretching or foam rolling. But it’s imperative to inculcate a little bit of cardio in your routine no matter what your body goal is. Doing a minimum of 10 minutes of cardio at the beginning is your safest best to warm up your body properly and increase your core temperature and blood flow. It also opens up your lower back and leg muscles like hamstrings and calves. Warming up your leg and back muscles is very important at the beginning of any workout to prevent injury as you use a lot of these muscles when you bend down to lift weights from the ground.
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Irrespective of the body part you’re training that day, warm up your entire body before starting your main workout. The thing is that no matter what body part you’re training, you use all the muscles of your body, whether directly or indirectly. Hence, having the notion that it’s best to only warm up leg muscles on a leg day and ignoring your core and upper body muscles may lead to serious injuries. The focus should obviously be more on the part you’re about to train, but leaving the rest of your body muscles to their own devices is not a wise thing to do!
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Once you finally begin to lift weights, always remember it’s better to start off the first rep of the exercise with comparatively lesser weight and as you move on to subsequent reps, gradually increase the weight. What this does is, it opens up the specific intricate muscles being used and prepares the body for what’s coming next and obviously saves you from injury.
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Since the main argument in favour of warming up is the prevention of injury, it is important for you to understand that for the very same reason, your body also needs to cool down properly after a strenuous workout before you resume your other work. Heading straight out of the gym and driving your car immediately after lifting heavy weights may make you feel dizzy. This is because of a drop in blood pressure. Allow your body to cool down and enjoy a post workout protein shake. It is very important to consume protein within 30- 35 minutes of a workout, as your body needs protein to recover and repair muscles after all that work.
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What’s the point of working out so strenuously without taking the proper measures that you end up getting injured! Makes no sense, right? Therefore, it’s time to set the game right and reap maximum results out of your workouts while being able to continue doing so!