Fitness Benefits of a Proper Warm Up

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As the New Year begins many of you are probably wondering, “How do I accomplish my 2019 fitness goals?”  There are so many questions to be answered and too many places to find misinformation.  Finding quality health and fitness information may seem like an endless task.  This is where we come in!  My name is Samantha McChesney, owner and head fitness specialist at Challenge Fitness in Norwood, MA.  I am also an Athletic Coordinator for the Boston Chapter of Team Red, White & Blue!  So if you have any input on what you would like to see for events in 2019, send me an email and I will do my best to make it happen.  I will be writing these articles with Dr. Chris Swart, our head strength and conditioning coach at Challenge Fitness.  We will be writing articles throughout the year to give you advice and guidance on how to reach your peak potential throughout 2019 and beyond.  Each topic will be of great importance in your fitness journey.

The first topic of the New Year is why you should NEVER skip your warm-up.  First off, I get why you would want to skip it!  We are all busy and carving out time to work out is hard enough without the addition of a warm up and cool down.  Many people skip the warm up and cool down for time purposes but do not realize how vital a warm up is in your overall success in the gym.  The warm up is an aspect that should NEVER, under any circumstance, be skipped.  The first step in a proper warm up is to slowly increase your heart rate and blood pressure by doing some type of large muscle cyclical activity.  (In other words… CARDIO!)  Any piece of cardiovascular equipment will suffice or even a brisk walk will do the trick.  This includes but is not limited to treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, arc trainers, etc.  The cardiovascular component of the warm up should be at least 5-10 minutes of low intensity (easy pace) aerobic work.  The reason why this is important is because you must slowly increase your heart rate and blood pressure to better prepare you for the more intense work coming up during your workout.  It puts too much stress on your cardiovascular system to go right into your workout at a high intensity.  In addition, a cardiovascular warm up allows your body to bring much needed oxygen and nutrients from your blood to the working muscles.

Another key component of why the warm up is so important is it allows for your metabolism to be working more efficiently.  This means you will be able to burn your body’s fuel faster and therefore work harder and longer.  In regards to your actual muscles, a dynamic movement warm up is also of vital importance.  Dynamic movements are ways of stretching your muscles through their general range of motion.  This means you are lengthening your muscles similar to an elastic band.  We want to stretch them but not to the point of discomfort and only hold each position for a brief time period.  The style of stretching known as active stretching will be done post workout as part of the cool down.  Active/static stretching is your traditional style of stretching where you hold each stretch for about 30 seconds.

So then the question becomes, well, why do I have to do these dynamic warm up stretches?  The answer is quite simple!  By completing the simple stretches in the video above, your muscles will be able to produce more force and power.  This means you will be stronger and have a better communication between your central nervous system and your muscles.  There is also a huge improvement in reaction time.  All this together means better balance as well as an increase in the strength capabilities of muscle.

These are some of the highlights as to why it is of utmost importance to warm-up prior to any type of training.  Whether you are doing only cardio training, only weight training, or both you MUST take the 5-10 minutes to go through a proper warm-up.  It is without argument that going through a proper warm-up will decrease your potential risk for injury in the gym.  The last thing anyone wants as they begin their new fitness program is an injury to set you back and test your motivation and will to succeed in your fitness journey.

We hope you all took something from this article, as we are excited to be a part of this your fitness journey and to share our love and passion for the fitness industry and pass along quality information.  If anyone has specific questions about anything health and fitness related please feel free to reach out to us and any of the contact info here.