Warming up is a preparation for physical exertion or a performance by exercising or practising gently beforehand.
Athletes, singers, actors and others warm up before stressing their muscles. It is widely believed to prepare the muscles for vigorous actions and to prevent muscle cramps and injury due to overexertion.
Nowadays there are more and more people who tend to skip worm up before exercising, usually due to time pressure.
The odd fact is most of them claim to have never experience an injury due to skipping worm up and in many cases had better and more intense workouts.
So where does the truth lie?
Should you keep worming up or is it a waste of time?
Continue to find out…
As a kid I could jump into the football field and play 3 matches in a row without any worm up, not even a light jog. I was fully engaged from the start, with no pain and no injures, despite devoting 100% of my energy and effort in every match.
But this started to change with the years.
First I noticed that it was taking me too long to adjust, physically and mentally, to the game. So, I started looking at warm up as a way to establish a proper engagement before every match.
Then I started to experience some muscle injuries and pain on days that I wasn’t really consistent with my worm up.
So I started looking more into it…
Benefits of worming up
Think about your muscles as if it’s a tootsie roll. Take a cold one and try to pull it apart it will snap (injury). Hold it in your hand and warm it up, it will be more elastic and won’t break (less chance of injury).
If you are an advanced athlete you probably don’t need to worm up before practicing simple moves. But performing advance movements such as the planche, front lever, back leve or dragon flag without warming up is like asking for your tendons to snap.
In addition to that, warm-ups are the bridge between the idle and the active state. Everything, from our muscles to our brains, is adapting to our current state. If we are in an idle state, then, they are performing in an idle way and need a trigger in order to get out of it. This trigger is called warm up.
Also, warming up helps establishing that mind – muscle connection before performing movements under stress. Particularly in Calisthenics, where form and proper engagement are crucial, warm-ups are a phenomenal way to correct/adjust before your working sets.
Static or dynamic warm up?
The recommendations have changed in the last 10 years, with studies confirming that static stretches before exercising might increase risk of injury and decrease overall performance.
For movements that are well within one’s range of motion, warming up with static stretching seems pointless and just weakens the muscle. Stretching a “cold” muscle in this way can increase the risk of injury from pulls and tears.
You should start with dynamic stretching instead, which involves continuously moving through a range of motion. Leave the static stretches for the end of your workout when your muscles are warm and pliable.
Keep in mind that stretching for flexibility isn’t necessarily the same as warming up, but is definitely helpful for avoiding injury. So, you can and should warm up before doing your flexibility routine too!
target your warm up
The problem is people see a warmup as a strict program instead of general guide.
Workouts vary in terms of intensity and length, depending on the type of exercise you do. So you need to adjust your warm up accordingly.
If you’re preparing for a brisk walk, then the warm-up could include slower-paced walking. For a more intense activity such as Calisthenics, some push ups or other simple bodyweight exercises would be more appropriate.
The point is to gradually increase the intensity from idle to fully active.
Warmups are a great and low cost way to ensure you don’t incur unnecessary injury. You spend 10 minutes doing it and waste almost no energy.
Apart from that, warmups are great for getting you into a good headspace especially once you go into the heavier lifts or more complex movements.
Why not do it?