Preventing injury, increasing range of motion, increasing blood flow to muscles, bringing awareness to the working muscle, and preparing mentally. All reasons we should be warming up before and stretching after our workouts.

 

But why do we all skip out on it? If it has such great benefits to our overall health, progress, and performance, why do we disregard stretching and warming up?

  • We don’t give ourselves the time. Probably the easiest excuse is that we rush right into our workouts because we want to get in and out of the gym as fast as possible. So we don’t give ourselves time to warm up before our workouts and stretch afterwards.
  • We don’t think it’s necessary. “As long as I get my lifting in and cardio done, that’s the most important thing to my training.” “I’m doing just fine without warming up, why start now?”
  • We don’t work it into our routine. It’s easy to plan out the sets and reps we’re going to do for that day or week, but we don’t plan out the appropriate warm-ups and stretching to accommodate those gym sessions. And let’s face it, if we don’t have it written down in our plan, it isn’t going to happen!

 

Okay okay, so they say warming up is important and that it’s supposed to prevent injury. Cool, but I haven’t had any problems yet. Or have you?

 

There are many reasons you should be properly warming up. Yes, not only to prevent injury but to better your performance during your workouts.

  1. Increases Blood Flow to Muscles. The term “warming up” isn’t used randomly, your body temperature is actually rising, opening your blood vessels, and making it easier for your blood to flow throughout your body and muscles. When you hear the term “getting a pump”, this is what’s happening. Your muscles are filling up with blood and the oxygen your blood carries, which is necessary to properly perform your exercise.
  2. Improves Range of Motion. Now that your muscles are warmed up, your blood / oxygen is properly cycling through your body, your range of motion is going to be much greater than if you didn’t warm up. If you jumped right into lifting weights, you’ll notice you feel very stiff, that your muscles don’t want to extend and contract easily, and that the weight feels very heavy (even if it’s half your maximum weight). If you aren’t going through the full range of motion in an exercise, you’re not getting the full benefit. This is where the term “half reps” comes in. Going through the FULL range of motion is part of proper form, so don’t cheat yourself! Warming up properly, will help you attain this full ROM.
  3. Prevents Injury. If you decide to push through the stiffness we just talked about with ROM, you’re putting yourself at risk for muscle pulls and tears. Your muscles need time to adjust to intense movements and heavy weight. Your joints will also thank you for giving your tendons time to warm up as well; this will help your joints stay strong and healthy as you increase the intensity of your workouts.
  4. Body Awareness of the Working Muscle(s). We often hear the term “mind-muscle connection” and may overlook this as a simply way for our trainers to help us stay focused. It’s important while performing an exercise to focus on contracting the muscle to make sure you’re isolating that muscle and not compensating by using other muscles to get through the movement. You can start to bring this awareness to the forefront while warming up. For example, if you’re going to work on your upper body today, you want to warm up your biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, and back. Not only are you warming up for the physiological reasons we talked about above, but also to hone in on that mind-muscle connection to bring awareness to the muscles you’ll be performing with today. That alone will help you prepare for your workout – whether it’s lifting heavy, high volume, or even cardio, your muscles will be better prepared.
  5. Mental Preparation. Being mentally “in the zone” is vital to how successful our training is going to be on any given day. Giving yourself time to warm up, get pumped up, and focused will improve your workout way more than if you were to just jump in and start pumping out reps or start sprinting on the treadmill.

 

Great – you have me convinced, but what’s the best way to warm-up?

 

Warming Up:

When warming up before a workout you want to avoid static stretching (i.e., when you reach for your toes and hold for 30 seconds). That alone might cause injury right off the bat. You want to do what’s called “dynamic stretching” and other movements to get the blood flowing. Dynamic stretching means “stretches in motion”, so things like high kicks, rolling of your neck/shoulders, rolling your ankle, trunk rotations, etc.

Calf Stretch

I personally always hop on the treadmill first thing and walk for 5-10 minutes to mentally prepare and to start increasing the blood flow. Then I move to my dynamic stretches. I’ll focus on movements that will get me warmed up for what I’m working on in particular that day – whether that’s legs, upper body, full-body, or cardio. I recommend adding a resistance band to your warm up. You can do just body weight, but since I add heavier weights in my exercises, I like to introduce light resistance to my muscles to better prepare for heavy lifts.

 

Watch this video for various ways to warm up with a resistance band.

 

 

All these movements will activate your muscles and improve mobility and strength. Try these out and I guarantee you’ll feel much more prepared for your workouts!

 

Stretching:

Lastly, take time after your workouts to stretch it out. It’s just as important as taking time to warm up before your workouts! Now that your muscles are well warmed up and loose, it’s the best time to do your static stretching. You just worked your muscles hard and we all know the feeling of “DOMS” (Delayed onset of muscles soreness) There’s a lot of lactic acid that builds up in your muscles from working them, so taking the time to stretch will help loosen that and prevent muscle stiffness. In addition, the better flexibility your muscles have, the better they can perform. Staying loose and flexible will help you progress towards your goals.

 

Here are some stretches you can add to the end of your workout! Resistance bands are always an option to add as a helping hand during your stretches, especially if you don’t have the flexibility to reach your toes or arms behind your back. Adding a band will help you get deeper into the stretches.

 

Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

 

Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch

 

Calf Stretch

Calf Stretch

 

Side Stretch

Side Stretch

 

Chest Stretch

Chest Stretch

 

Shoulders & Biceps Stretch

Shoulder_Bicep Stretch

 

Triceps Stretch

Triceps Stretch

 

There are many ways to warm up and stretch, so share your favorite ways on IG! Tag us @dyna_pro we’d love to see your creative ways!

 

Warm Up

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