Everyone loves warming up before class, right? Okay okay – you and I both know that sometimes the warmup feels tedious or silly, but I can assure you that it is anything but. Here are the top five things that you should know about warming up.
1.) Injury prevention: Warming up is physically priming your muscles for the work that they are about to do. It is taking your muscles from basically a resting state and preparing them for dynamic movement. During the warm up, your muscles are taken through a wide range of motion and it causes blood to flow into the muscles. Increased blood flow increases elasticity in the muscle so you are less likely to pull, strain, or tear it.
2.) Better performance: Do you ever notice that your second set felt better than your first? That’s because you probably weren’t completely warm going into that first set, so by the time your second set came around, your muscles were actually warm and ready, therefore making the work “easier”. I previously mentioned how the warm up causes increased blood flow. Increased blood flow delivers more blood to the muscles which enhances muscle operation. Increased blood flow also raises the body’s temperature which is beneficial because hemoglobin releases oxygen more easily at a higher temperature. Muscles are fueled by oxygen during a workout, so more oxygen delivered means better performance. When muscles are warm nerve transmission and muscle metabolism is also increased. Both of these factors also contribute to better performance.
3.) Mindset: While the warm up might not seem physically taxing, it is preparing you mentally for what is to come. When you enter the gym, sometimes you are still thinking about work, or family, or something else that is going on in your life at the moment. The warm up starts to shift your mind into the direction that you are going to go, slowly letting those other factors fade into the background. The more you are able to focus on your body during the warm up, the more you are preparing your mind for the work that is yet to come.
4.) Knowing you are warm: Sometimes we approach the warm up like it is stretching, and it should just feel good and it shouldn’t be difficult. And while it is true that you shouldn’t jump into something SUPER difficult right off the bat, the warm up should still challenge you enough that you start to sweat. Literally the warm up is doing just that to your body, warming it up, so a good indicator of whether or not you are warm is if you are starting to perspire.
5.) Listen to and know your body: I think that sometimes we become dogmatic about things, and we think that if we run through the motions of the warm up, that that should be enough and we should be ready for the workout. However, every person is different, and our anatomy varies so what gets one person VERY warm might not be enough for someone else. For instance, I know that my shoulders take FOREVER to get warm, so if there are snatches in Part 1, I’m going to get to the gym a little early to allow time for additional warm up. If you go through the warm up and you don’t feel ready for the workout, take the time to do what you need to do in order to be warm. As cool as it would be, we coaches can’t look at you and tell if you are properly warmed up- only you can be the judge of that, so take the time to acknowledge where your body is at and what it might need before the workout.
If you want more information, feel free to leave me a comment or grab me in class sometime. The CrossFit Journal also released an interesting article about warming up, it’s key roles, and how it is different from stretching.
Lastly, remember that your coaches are here for you! We love being coaches and we love your questions! If you need ideas on how to warm a certain area up more, please never hesitate to ask. It is our pride and joy to see you succeed and do better, so let us help you do that.
Until next time you guys – stay fit, eat healthy, be well.