Category: Workout

Increase Workout Efficiency Through Proper Warm-Ups

Published:14 Feb, 2017     By: Salan Khalkho     6 min read

Warm-up is one of the most important elements of an exercise program. The main objective of doing warm-up is to prevent injury. According to health and fitness experts, warm-up is a low-level activity that should be completed prior to stretching and more strenuous exercise.

Warm up to Increase Workout Efficiency

Tempted to skip your warm up? Well, you are not alone. Often athletes turn up late to a group workout session and then directly jump in on the fast swimming, riding, running without warm-up. Others are pinched for time and just try to squeeze a workout into a busy schedule by skipping the warm-up, thinking the main set of workout is more important anyways. This often makes us think whether warm-up is really necessary.

important elements of an exercise program

Importance of warm-up

Warm-up is one of the most important elements of an exercise program. The main objective of doing warm-up is to prevent injury. According to health and fitness experts, warm-up is a low-level activity that should be completed prior to stretching and more strenuous exercise.

Warm-up prevents injury

Warm-up and injury prevention

Warm-up prevents injury by raising the total body temperature and muscle temperature to prepare your body for vigorous activity. Warm-up prepares cardiovascular system, nervous system, musculoskeletal system and respiratory system by gradually increasing the demand on those systems to enable them to accommodate the demands of more strenuous activity.

    Significant increase in blood flow after warm up

    Significant increase in blood flow within 10 minutes of workout

    When you are sitting and relaxing in your chair, it results in relatively low, 15-to-20% of blood flow to your skeletal muscle. Majority of small blood vesicles within those muscles remain close. However within 10-to-12 minutes of total body exercise, the blood flow to your skeletal muscles increase in the tune of 70-to-75% and capillaries open up.

    more oxygen available to muscles

    Increase in blood flow makes more oxygen available to muscles

    As the blood flow increases, the temperature in the muscles also increases. This is something very good for your body since the hemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily available at higher body temperature. When more blood is able to reach your muscles, more oxygen becomes available to your muscles and this directly results in increased performance. Increased temperature also enables faster muscle contraction and relaxation.

      Warming-up prevents injury

      There is no conclusive scientific study done to establish a direct link between warming up and injury prevention. Studies conducted on animals to determine if injuring a muscle that has been subject to warm-up required more force than the muscle that has not gone through warm-up. The study was in line with anecdotal data that acute muscle tears happens more easily when muscles are cold or not warm-up.

      treadmill warm up before weights

      In a landmark study that examined 44 men run in treadmill at high intensity for 10 to 15 seconds without going through any warm-up, found 70% of the men with abnormal ECG changes because of low blood supply to the heart muscles.

      Types of warm-up

      Proper warm-up is effective to elevate your body to necessary work capacity. There are two types of warm-up sessions, i.e. General and sport specific.

      General warm-up

      General warm-up is geared towards increasing the functional potential of your body as a whole, whereas specific warm-up or sports specific warm-up helps to establish relationship between the upcoming movements or workouts. Warm-up sessions involve low intensity movements and involve those body parts that will be used in the subsequent activity.

      Intense Treadmill Workouts To Get Shredded

      Warm-up prepares body for more vigorous activities

      General worm-up session focuses on raising the core temperature and increasing the blood circulation, which in turns heat up the muscles, ligaments and tendons in order for the body to be prepared for more vigorous activities. One of the best ways to know if the warm-up has helped the body to prepare itself for more intense activities is by breaking a sweat. So if you are sweating after a warm-up session, it's pretty much good indication that the core temperature of your body has elevated.

      Warm-up reduces the likelihood of injury

      It also means that the likelihood of injury is reduced considerably. Warm-up increases muscle efficiency and reduces any potential for muscle pulls. It also improves reaction time and improves the speed of movement of muscles and ligaments. An effective warm-up also helps to reduce the severity of post-exercise muscle soreness. High temperature and increased blood flow helps in delivering oxygen to the muscles and prevent build-up of waste products which can lead to muscle soreness.

      Warm-up increases body temperature by one or two degrees Fahrenheit

      Though there is no specific recommendation for intensity and duration of warm-up, many research suggests a warm-up should increase body and muscle temperature by approximately one or two degrees Fahrenheit. A brisk 5 to 10 minutes of general warm-up would be sufficient to prepare your body for more strenuous exercise. But then you should adjust the duration and intensity of warm-up based on environmental temperature and amount of clothing worn. For example if the environmental temperature is high or you are wearing too much of clothing (or both), you would reach desired body temperature soon.

      Body returns back to pre-warm-up level within 15 minutes of break

      Once you have attained desired body temperature, you should not give a break of more than few minutes between warm-up and major activity. A break of more than 15 minutes is enough to erase the beneficial effect of warm-up. Your muscles temperature will also return back to pre-warm-up level by then.

      4 effective warm-up methods to help you get rocking

      Well, by now you must have got pretty good idea of why you shouldn't be skipping on warm-up before you jump into your main exercise. Here is the list of effective warm-up methods to help you get rocking. Since warm-up is all about efficiency, let's cut to the chase. Remember, you may not be able to do some of these warm-ups, when you start initially. As a fitness expert I would recommend you to start with what you can do and then build up from there.

      • Keeping it dynamic

        Majority of fitness experts suggest starting with dynamic moves such as forward lunge, lateral squat, arm circles and hand walk. Once you have done this, move right into 3 sets of 15-yard linear skips. Follow it up with 3 sets of 15-yard Carioca to finish.

      • Jump around

        According to fitness author and expert, Jennifer Nicole Lee, 5 consecutive minutes of jumping rope at a mild to brisk tempo is enough to get your body ready for workout performance. If you are running short on time, a little rope-jump session will get your heart rate and your body temperature up.

      • Balance challenge

        Many experts suggest doing warm-up that mimics the actual training exercise. This will use the muscle you plan to work in a stabilizing way.

      • Swing into action

        Using "swinging movements" is a great way to do warm-up, while loosening up your muscles and joints as they are primed for handling heavy resistance. Our muscles and joints are quite similar to rubber bands. They snap when they are cold, but when they are warmed up, they become resilient, flexible and responsive.


      Whatever warm-up method you plan to choose, just remember that warm-ups are never intended to be part of your workout. They are there to help you prepare your body for the workout. Break a brief sweat but don't work so hard that you build up lactic acid. You got to save your energy for the actual workout session.

      Important Note: Medical and health related information given in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. This article is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

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