So you're hot on the path to getting into a new sport or workout regime, are you? That's terrific. Nothing does a body good like physical activity. And it's great for building muscle and burning calories and keeping that fat off, too.
So? Which sport or type of workout are you getting into? Oh! But before you start you ARE warming up, are you not?
Glad to see you're nodding your head rapidly. But hold on a sec. Are you warming the right way for your chosen sport?
Keep in mind when you're getting ready to exercise that you should try to warm-up in a way that is most beneficial to your specific type of exercise.
The word, my friends, is "specificity'!
For instance, if you're going running, your best warm-up is probably brisk walking and slow jogging. This is the closest in movement patterns that you can get to running without actually breaking into that full-blown run.
Warm up at this pace for at least 5 minutes before going for it hard. This will ensure that you are warming up the right muscles for the right movements, thereby minimizing risk of injury due to tearing a cold muscle or tendon that hasn't been properly prepared.
Suppose you're getting ready to do some heavy weight lifting. Why would you get on an incumbent stationary cycle to warm up for this type of exercise? Sure, it might get your heart beating and your blood pumping but it sure won't warm up your muscles for the type of work you're about to ask them to do.
A better warm up would be go for the cycle or treadmill for 5 minutes to warm up your cardiovascular system but then also do one set of each weight-training exercise on a lighter weight (approximately 50% of the weight in your main sets) to get your muscles used to the move you're about to ask them to do with more intensity. Then they'll be ready for what you throw at them. Remember, a ride on a stationary bike is probably not going to do too much to warm up your arms for a hard bicep curl or chest press.
If you're going to go golfing or play some tennis, do a few torso-twisting exercises first (like lateral chopping, also known as 'wood-choppers') and some arm swings. If you're going to play football, soccer or rugby, take a quick jog and do some jumping jacks, burpees and then once warmer, some sprints.
Boxing? Do a little light shadow boxing without an opponent, and some plyometrics moves like jumping from side to side and forward and back before you step into the ring against your adversary.
Hockey? Some fast walking then a slow jog … or just strap on the skates but take it easy for the first 5 minutes before the game starts. We've all watched the pros skate around the rink while the announcer does his thing before an NHL game starts. Why do you think the players are doing that? They're not just show-boating, they're warming up!
So, don't forget to choose your warm-ups carefully and with specificity. You could be preventing yourself from sustaining a serious injury someday.