High school gym class taught you that warming up meant a few static stretches before a rousing game of dodgeball or a rope climbing session. If you’re still using that warm up before your workout, or like most people you have no warm up, today’s column will give you a few ideas to make you think twice about skipping the warm up.
A proper warm up prepares the body for exercise and helps prevent injury, while making your workout more effective. The most beneficial warm ups activate the muscles you’ll be using during your program through their full range of motion by simulating the exercises that you’ll be performing during the workout. For example, if you’ll be doing loaded squats, warm up by performing body weight squats. If you’ll be bench pressing, start with some push ups. I’ve included a video showing examples of a few dynamic warm up exercises to get you thinking.
All this doesn’t mean you should throw out all of your static stretches though. Instead, perform the static stretches at the end of your workout to lessen tightness after your session. However, this is a recommendation and not a rule as static stretching before exercise has great value if you’ve got some specific areas of tightness that prevent you from moving through a full range of motion. In this case, stretch out or foam roll those muscles to loosen them up and then perform a dynamic warm up.