How many times have you heard your trainer ask you, “are you warm?” when they greet you at the gym before your workout? If you reply, “yes, I rushed here from work”, you are probably not warm. When preparing for a good workout at the gym, most people usually get into their workout clothes, fill up their water bottle, and get their iPod ready. Though they are dressed and ready to workout, the one thing they forgot to prepare for the workout is the most important element: their body. It’s easy to think that by just hustling to get to the gym, you are “warm” and ready to go. Not the case. It takes more than just walking around for a few minutes to truly prepare the body for exercise. If the body isn’t properly warmed up, there is an increased risk for injury, and no one wants that!

Think of your muscles as rubber bands. If you try to stretch a cold rubber band, it will snap. A nice and loose rubber band can stretch and bend with no problem! To efficiently warm up your body, the warm up must be performed right before exercise. Saying, “well, I walked the dog this morning” isn’t good enough. It is best to warm up your entire body to prepare for the type of exercise you will be doing. If you are planning on doing some strength training, do some functional exercises to prepare your body for lifting weights. Some examples are:
• Squats
• Lunges
• Bridging
• Push-ups (on the wall, knees, or hands and toes)
An additional perk to warming up before working out, aside from avoiding injury, is that you can perform each exercise with better form than you can without warming up. This means that you’ll get more out of your workout by letting each muscle group function properly. You can also get on an elliptical, a treadmill, or any other cardio machine and pump those arms as you’re warming up. You want to engage as many muscle groups as possible for a good warm-up. I would recommend starting your warm up on a cardio machine for a few minutes at a moderate pace, then moving on to some of the dynamic exercises listed above.

Some may think that stretching is a good warm-up technique, but if you remember the rubber band simile we used earlier, it is obvious why that wouldn’t work. (Cold muscle/rubber band + stretch = SNAP!) Get the blood pumping and muscles moving before your workout, and stretch out afterward for the best results. Take at least a solid 10 minutes to warm up prior to exercise, and you will not only feel great during your workout, but you will also get more out of each workout session. Trainers aren’t just asking you to warm up in order to get you to use the cardio equipment. Trainers understand that a good warm up can help their clients avoid injury and get better results.

Here’s to warming up for success!