Tips and tricks to make your workout more effective

Many people often overlook the importance of warming up.

Many individuals rush into sets and reps without performing a progressive warm-up. This prevents injury and maximizes workout time. In addition, warming up is essential when starting a new training program or returning back after a long time without physical activity. 

Many weightlifters think that having one or two light sets is enough. However, a good warm-up does not only prepare the body systems, tissues and muscles, but it also unlocks your full range of motion, excites the nervous system and promotes specific movement preparations. 

In short, a good warm-up can also allow you to have a great head start on post-workout recovery and minimize your risk of injury. 

Warming up

Understanding the concept of warming up is helpful for people who regularly work out. This pre-workout or pre-training routine actually pumps nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood to the muscles, which usually results in speeding up heart rate and breathing.

According to experts, a good warm-up should last about five to ten minutes and work in all major muscle groups [1]. They also suggest starting slowly and then eventually picking up the pace. Numerous warm-up routines prioritize cardio and range-of-motion exercises, particularly jumping jacks and lunges. 

Warming up: Tips and tricks to make your workout more effective

Depending on your capacity, you may perform a much simpler warm-up routine, like starting with walking in place while gently swinging your arms or even simply dancing to certain songs. In warming up, it is best to flow from one stretch to another without rests in between.

Cooling down

Cool down by doing slow movements after your workout or training. By cooling down, your body may be prevented from having muscle cramps and dizziness while simultaneously trying to slow down your breathing and heart rate. 

A great cool-down after your routine must incorporate stretching exercises to relax and lengthen your muscles and enhance your range of motion. 

In order to maximize your exercise routines, you can try to hold each stretch for around 10 to 30 seconds. Note that the longer you can hold a stretch, the better you improve your flexibility. 

Tips and tricks to warm up effectively 

Short and light

Warming up should last between 10 and 15 minutes and take place no more than 10 minutes before physical activity. Depending on your tolerance and workout routine, you should start with slow activities and progress to faster, more explosive movements.

Basically, if you’re running, warm up your legs by walking slowly and gradually increasing your pace This will slowly elevate your heart rate. If you play basketball, do some light dribbling drills before the game to get your blood flowing.

Progressive warm-up

A functional warm-up should start slow and finish fast. Your warm-up routine should not start right with crazy, frenetic movements. 

Your body must ease into the work ahead with slow or static positions that progress to more difficult and advanced movements. Using a progressive warm-up, your body slowly warms up, making sure that you’re not putting yourself at risk of injury.

Work the soft tissue

Self-myofascial release (SMR) has become a popular term in the fitness and athletic world for a good reason. Your body needs the soft tissue to move freely through a full range of motion, decrease your chance of injury and make the most force possible. 

Foam rollers and tennis balls are considered simple tools, but when used appropriately, these two can change your training in the long run by loosening your tight muscles and increasing blood flow [2]. 

Work on dynamic mobility

A weak joint is often described as stiff or jammed, making it harder to move around. When taking your training to another level, you should properly warm up and mobilize your joints.  

Dynamic stretching refers to movement-based stretching that is intended to be performed before the workout. When thinking about stretching, many people think of static stretching, which includes bending over to touch your toes and holding a specific position for 30 seconds. 

Static stretching form has its place and may increase flexibility when performed the right way. However, it is much more recommended for post-workout when your muscles are warm and begin. 

By warming up effectively, you will notice much more gains with mobile joints. Surprisingly, a stiff joint anywhere in the body may affect the entire body’s function. You should consider time permitting as it is one of the best ways to prepare the entire body, despite having the plan to work only on a specific part. 

Move, don’t stretch

Unlike popular belief, performing static stretching is not enough. In fact, too much static stretching is considered detrimental for serious athletes. 

Numerous studies presented evidence that static stretching ahead of training can diminish muscle strength. Although a thorough, static stretch is great for post-workout, the goal in warming up is to prepare the body to move, not rest.

Consequently, the best way to have an effective warm-up is to move progressively. Doing arm circles and light leg swings are much more preferable compared with toe touches and static shoulder stretches.

Excite the nervous system

When you warm up, your nervous system is literally in control. Meaning the more you excite and prepare your nervous system for physical activity, the more efficient your body can be during training sessions.  

Therefore, you should make it a habit to excite your nervous system during your warm-up routine. It can be achieved by doing movements that require greater coordination, like jumps, bounds and even light Olympic moves performed with an empty bar. 

Warming up: Tips and tricks to make your workout more effective

Take note that intense warm-up movements should still be performed only as part of a progression and when your body is ready for more advanced moves. 

Exercise-specific

Your approach to warm-up should be exercise-specific, which means doing the same movement to your workout or training gets your joints warmed up and blood into your muscles. 

When you make your warm-up exercise specific, you are already making your muscle and tissue pliable with the particular movements you are about to perform in the main part of your workout.

Meanwhile, if you are preparing for a weightlifting workout, it is recommended to practice your movements with no weights or light weights; this is to test-drive your joints and practice your range of motion. 

Try total-body and dynamic

End your workout or training routines with dynamic, total-body movements, like squats. You also need to be specific to your sport or training session, but not so much in a way that you would leave out certain joints or body parts. Be reminded that the body works as a whole, so you should aim to excite and prepare it as a whole.

Move in three dimensions

You must not only perform exercises straight in front of you. You can also move backward and laterally or add rotational movement patterns whenever you think is suitable. 

A few examples of three-dimensional exercises are lunges, butt-kickers, side lunges, high knees, moving hamstring stretches, shin grabs and side shuffles.

Prepare your mind

After knowing how to prep your body, you should also prepare your mind. Performing warm-ups could take up to 20 minutes, which may sound like a lot for some people.  However, you should try to consider warming up as an investment in a workout career that is far more productive and great for the long run. 

You can produce more force and train harder for longer with functional and effective warm-ups. It also helps prevent strains and sprains when your body isn’t ready.

Additionally, mentally warming up has a positive impact on your physical workout. There is plenty of sport psychology research demonstrating that visualizing how you will succeed on the court or field for athletes can dramatically enhance physical performance [3]. 

What exercises should you include?

  • Straight leg marches: A forward technique that can be performed by putting your legs in a straight position on the downbeats. Then, the length of your leg must extend through each step. 
  • Forward lunges: Forward lunges work on your glutes, legs and abs but are much more focused on the quads or the front of your thighs. 
  • Hip cradles: When you sit all day, your hip flexor muscles become more tightened. Performing hip cradles can help activate and lengthen hip flexor muscles. 
  • Lateral lunges: While standing, perform one big step to the right and keep your toes facing forward while your heels should be pressing into the floor. Then, bend your hips and your right knee as you turn your weight onto your right foot. 

Summary

After a long period of inactivity or before starting a new training program, warming up is essential.

Meanwhile, you also need to cool down, which is ideal after your workout or training sessions. Both warm-ups and cool-downs help prevent injuries. 

Ideally, warming should be short and progressive–starting from slow-paced movements to performing advanced ones. 

You should also avoid doing static stretching and become more dynamic when warming up. Mental preparations are also needed as much as physical warm-ups. 

[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercise-101-dont-skip-the-warm-up-or-cool-down 
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8744627/ 
[3] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344587632_Visualisation_techniques_in_sport_-_the_mental_road_map_for_success 

The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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