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How to Get Started When Working Out: What You Need to Know about Warm-ups
Do you need to warm up before working out? Research shows that the answer to this question is a resounding “yes.” First and foremost, warming up increases the overall temperature of your body and muscles, which serves to increase blood flow and also helps to increase the rate of energy production. Secondly, warming up helps to reduce to the risk of injury and prevent heart damage. Exercising without any kind of warm-up means that your soft tissue (your tendons, ligaments, and muscles) is more prone to injury, and also puts more stress on your heart. So, the benefits of warm-ups are clear. But how should you get started when working out? Let’s take a look at what you should know about warm-ups.
Roll it out. Self-myofascial release, in which tools like foam rollers or a tennis ball are used to treat trigger points or knots within the muscles through the application of pressure, is an excellent addition to any warm-up routine. Self-myofascial release works to relieve tension, improve blood flow, improve movement quality, and improve mobility.
Don’t just get your heart rate up. Just doing a few jumping jacks or jogging for a few minutes isn’t a sufficient warm-up. That’s what’s known as a “gloss over warm-up,” and really isn’t going to do much for your body, especially if you are lifting weights. “The biggest mistake is to gloss over the warm-up,” insists Tony Gentilcore, CSCS, co-founder of Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. “That does nothing to increase body temperature, increase neural activation, warm up the joints, or get the nerves ready to go. Don’t stop with just getting your heart rate up. Correct things like posture or imbalances and address what you want to improve in the weight room.”
Incorporate dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches actively move your joints through a full range of motion. Research shows that dynamic stretches specifically work to improve muscular performance, as they help to improve your movement quality.
Remember, a good warm-up can actually work to dramatically improve your performance, whether you’re running outside or lifting in the gym. “It’s not uncommon to see immediate improvements in the deadlift or squat,” explains Gentilcore. “There’s a strong performance incentive to do a good warm-up, not to mention stacking the odds in your favor that you won’t get injured.” The bottom line? It is always in your best interest to warm up before diving straight into a workout.