“Lions don’t warm up why should I?”
Actually they do stretch and roll around after taking naps. But, the primary reason you need to complete a full warm up before working out is because you move much much less than a lion. Even though they spend much of their time sleeping, they are constantly in different positions and when they are awake they are moving. This means that when it is time to chase down prey they are already warm and ready to sprint.
So how should you warm up? There are five specific aspects of a warmup you should include to make sure you stay safe and get the most out of your training. They are Breathing, Thermogenic, Targeted Movement, Specific Exercise Prep, and Mindset.
When jumping into a workout completely cold it can feel like it takes the first half of the session just to stop breathing so heavily. This happens because your body is acclimating to the new amount of stress and CO2. Take this acclimation period out by adding in short breath holds or simply making your breaths longer. Then during the next few steps allow your breathing rate to increase as you get ready for more intensity.
This is the literal “warm up” aspect. During this portion simply get moving. You can run, row, bike, jump rope, do jumping jacks or my personal favorite the shake and bounce : ) Do something you enjoy for 2-3 minutes. This will increase your heart rate and speed up your breathing.
Now you can begin getting more specific. Think through the movements you plan on doing. Now hit a few repetitions of accessory movements that incorporate the muscles and joints you will be focusing on. For instance, if you are doing deadlifts you would want to include movements like Hip CARs, Knee CARs, and Hip Thrusts.
Specific Exercise Prep
You are pretty much ready to go! All that is left is to practice repetitions of the movements you are about to do before adding intensity to them. Emphasize the technique of the exercise with lighter weight. Then check to make sure your joints and muscles feel ready to go. Climb in weight or intensity until you feel ready and begin your workout!
This aspect of the warm up really begins before anything else, but flows through the entire process. Your mindset about the workout is essential to how much you get out of the session. If you tell yourself you just need to get this over with then you will rush the movements. This leads to poor form, using incorrect weights, not warming up, and not doing mobility drills well. All of this means you are not going to get the results you want. That will likely just make you more frustrated about working out.
On the other hand if you try to look forward to the workout and are present throughout the session you will feel refreshed afterwards and reap much greater benefits. Make sure you set aside the time you need for the workout so you can fully engage in it. This means turning on your phone’s Do Not Disturb and playing some music you love. Use the warm up as a chance to switch your brain to work out mode and think about the goals you are trying to achieve with that session.
All of these warm up components are important to include before your workouts. They will keep you safe and ensure you are training properly.
What is your favorite movement to throw into a warmup?