Warm-up Exercise - The Right Way!

Warm-up exercise is something most people know they should do, but – not knowing any better – they do it all wrong.  What do YOU think a good warm-up looks like?  If you picture reaching for your toes and slightly bouncing up and down…then keep reading!

Warming up does not mean stretching.  Think of your muscles like rubber bands... now think of the difference between a rubber band if you put it in the refrigerator, and one that has been sitting in the sun - the one in the sun will be more pliable and easier to stretch. 

To prepare your body for exercise, you need to get blood flowing to the muscles and get your heart rate up.  This is done by moving – not stretching.  Warm up exercises can simply be a period of lighter physical activity.

Of course, stretching isn't bad - just make sure you warm-up before you do it!

I remember several times in the police academy, we would have to run 1 mile for time.  We would start as a group, and the instructor would give us few minutes to get ready.  Most of the students would start doing basic stretching. 

I would start running in place and doing moves like alternating toe touches and standing twists.  Some of the others would just laugh at me and make comments like, “What are you crazy?  You’re wasting energy!” 

I would try to explain that I was warming up, and they would just laugh and shake their head.  Once the instructor said, “Go!” I was ready to go…most of the others spent the first few minutes of THEIR run, warming up.

7 Tips for a proper warm up

  • Start with lighter activity.  If you are going for a run, start out with a fast walk.  If you are about to play sports, do exercises like standing twists and jumping jacks.
  • It should last 5-10 minutes.  The more intense the main activity is going to be, the more extensive the warm up should be.  
  • If you are warming up properly, your breathing and heart rate will naturally start increasing.
  • The warm up should not be hard enough to cause fatigue.
  • Stretching is not necessary, but if you feel like you need to do it, do it after a few minutes of warming up. 
  • If special or unique physical movements are part of the program, start with a general cardio warm-up followed by more specific movements similar to the main activity.
  • Warning: If very high intensity activity is planned, stretching may be counterproductive!  Stretching can lower the force-generating capacity of your muscles. 

Warm up exercises don’t have to be anything fancy – they just need to get blood flowing to your muscles and get your heart rate up!

Just like warm up is needed before exercise, a proper cool down should be done afterwards. 

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