What is a pre-workout warm-up?

A pre-workout warm-up means doing gentle movements or exercises before you start your actual workout. Warm-up exercise is the best and only way to set your body in motion to avoid workout fatigue. Warm-up exercises before workout not only activate your muscles but also put you in the proper frame of mind to exercise.Your warm-up workout should last for a minimum of 5-10 minutes to gain its benefits.

Are warm-up and stretching the same?

Many people erroneously think of dynamic stretching as a warm-up exercise. The main purpose of stretching exercises is to improve the range of motion and loosen the muscles. Without a proper warm-up session that increases the blood flow to muscles and increases their elasticity, the muscles cannot be stretched properly. Doing dynamic stretching without a proper warm-up session may lead to injuries. Before workout stretches that involve keeping the body in a static position may also reduce the efficacy of your workout and decrease your strength and ability to exercise.Stretching is more beneficial when done after the workout when it can help in loosening the already tired muscles. This helps in fastening their recovery, helps in cooling down your nervous system, and regulating your heart rate.

What happens when you skip your warm-up?

When you enter into your gym, it is quite tempting to immediately jump into your exercise routine. This usually happens when we reach the gym class late and want to save on time. Some people also think of skipping their warm-up exercise when they need to rush for an appointment after their gym session.However, nothing could be more detrimental than starting your exercise routine without full-body warm-up exercises.Here is what happens when you miss your warm-up exercises:

  • When our body is stationary, the muscles are cooler due to inactivity. They don't receive much blood during their inert state, which is critical for the muscles to move properly. Skipping your warm-up exercises simply means that you are putting a sudden and extreme exertion on cold and blood-deprived muscles. This reduces the efficacy of your workout drastically.
  • When the muscles are inactive, they do not have any calcium ions. These ions are necessary to contract and move during the workout.
  • Colder and inactive muscles, including your cartilage, tendons, and ligaments, are more prone to injuries. This inactive and lack of blood supply makes them less elastic to be able to function to their maximum capacity.

Why is warm-up important?

Now that we have understood the state of our muscles when they are inactive, it is easier to understand the benefits of warm-up exercise. Some of the most important advantages of a warm-up workout are:

  • When you do warm-up exercise, your blood temperature increases. This helps in reducing the binding of oxygen with the haemoglobin and makes the latter more available to the muscles.
  • Warm-up helps in improving the range of motion of your muscles and large joints like the shoulders and knees. This helps in letting them move to their maximum potential, enhancing your flexibility, which is essential for avoiding tears and cuts in your cartilage, ligaments, and tissues.
  • When you do a warm-up workout, your blood vessels dilate. This increases the blood flow and puts less strain on the heart during the workout. This helps in reducing the risk of sudden palpitations and chest pain.
  • Your body is triggered into producing hormones like cortisol and endorphins that are responsible for lending you the required energy to exercise and making you feel relaxed and stress-free.
  • A warm-up workout puts you in the right frame of mind for the exercise session ahead i.e. your mind clears, decides your strategy, and can concentrate better.

Which are the best warm-up exercises?

There are several types of warm-ups that you can do to jump-start your exercise routine. Here is a list of warm-up exercises that have proven to be the most effective:

  1. Squats:
  • One of the best warm-up exercises, these are done by standing with your feet hip-width apart. They are simple to do and are amongst the best warm-up exercises at home.
  • Lower your body keeping your back straight as you engage your core. Lower your hips till your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Pause briefly and stand back up.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 13-15 reps.

 2. Planks:

  • One of the best flexibility exercises, planks help in improving your range of motion and reducing muscle pain.
  • Get into a pushup position. Keep your palms and toes firmly on the ground as you keep your back straight.
  • Hold the plank for 30 seconds-1 minute.

 3. Side lunges:

  • They are one of the best flexibility exercises that help in strengthening your legs, hips, and glutes. They are amongst the easiest warm-up exercises for beginners and one of the best warm exercises at home.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Press into your right foot and step over your left foot to the left side.
  • Squat down while bending your left leg as you keep your right leg straight.
  • Do 1-3 sets of 8-10 reps.

4. Jumping Jacks:

  • One of the best warm-up exercises, they serve as a full-body workout.
  • Stand with your legs straight and arms on your sides.
  • Jump and spread your feet hip-width apart as you bring your arms above your head.
  • Jump again lowering your arms and bringing your legs together.
  • Do 50-100 jumps.

What are the things to be kept in mind for an effective warm-up workout?

Here are some tips for a great warm-up exercise routine:

  • Your warm-up exercise will depend on what your workout routine is for the day. For example, if you are a runner, the best warm-up for you is a light jog or brisk walk. If you are lifting weights, your warm-up session could be lifting lighter weights.
  • Make your warm-up exercise routine dynamic i.e. include flexibility exercises, weights, and a light jog to get a full-body workout.
  • Don't push yourself too hard while doing warm-up exercises to avoid fatigue before your workout even begins.
  • Make sure to customise your warm-up session according to your age. Warm-up exercise for older people is different and includes more gentle flexibility exercises and lighter weights.
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