Warming up before a workout can oftentimes be a hassle for some people. It does add extra time to your workout and can feel like you aren’t accomplishing much. However, it is one of the most important things you can do. A good warmup should only be 5-10 minutes, and should start to get your heart rate elevated and stretch out your major muscle groups.
While you may be eager to jump right in and start your workout routine right away, skipping a warm up can leave you prone to injuring yourself. Skipping a 10-minute warmup could lead to an injury, and that could set you back for weeks or months. Warming up pumps nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood to your muscles as it speeds up your heart rate and breathing. When you do a warm-up before exercise, you're conditioning your body to load the right muscles and follow movement patterns that help prevent injury. It is very important to get your body used to these motions, especially for exercises that can leave you more prone to injury if done improperly; such as deadlifts, squats, and other powerlifting or olympic style lifts . If you do not warm up properly for deadlifts for example, a small mistake in form can lead to a hamstring or lower back injury potentially preventing you from training for weeks or longer. Warming up not only prepares the muscles, but can help focus your mind as well. Starting lighter and or slower, and going through the exercise a few times can be a big benefit for when the movement gets faster or the weight gets heavier. Prepare the body and the mind together.
Your muscles, ligaments and tendons are usually cold from resting, which can increase the risk of injury. Jumping into a full sprint, or going to your max weight on a lift right away doesn’t allow for peak performance. When your muscles are warm, they become more elastic and agile, they can execute movements better with a lower chance of being pulled tight and strained. Think of a rubber band. If left in the freezer it will take much more force to stretch and will break sooner. If that same rubber band was left in the sun on a hot day, the force needed to stretch it would be much less and it would stretch further before breaking. While not exactly like a rubber band, muscles follow a similar result, where a warm muscle takes less effort to move and has a lower risk of tearing over the same range of motion as a cold muscle.
Which warmup is best?:
That really depends on the workout you are doing that day.
For running, it is a good idea to start at a much slower pace than you expect to be running. It is also a good idea after a few minutes to stretch your lower body with motions like toe-touches, Lunges, bodyweight squats or jumps.
If you are doing a HIIT workout you may want to focus on a few minutes of cardio to gradually build up your heart rate followed by a few stretches that focus on the major muscle groups (hamstrings, shoulders, chest).
Weight lifting: Cardio to build up your heart rate slowly in order to increase blood flow, but follow with stretches specific to the muscle group that will be focused on during the workout.
When lifting weights, adding a few warm up sets to the beginning of each exercise can allow your body to gradually adjust to pushing or pulling the added weight.
Don't Ignore It:
Warming up doesn’t need to take forever, and every person will have a different routine that works best for them. It should be a quick and gentle way to get your mind, muscles, ligaments, and tendons ready to perform. The important part is not skipping it.