Why is Doing a Warm-Up so Important?

Lisa Austin Exercise and Form Leave a Comment

We live in a time where there is always so much to do and we try to fit extra things into our busy schedules. That isn’t such a good idea when it means that we aren’t able to give an activity the attention it needs. We eat in our cars while we’re driving to our next destination, our laptops or tablets are on our laps so we can surf the net while we watch our favourite shows, we have our cell phone with us and we’re texting one person while we visit with another. If you are busy and you skip your warm-up, you need to ask ‘are you setting yourself up for performance or injury?’

Got 10 Minutes?

We need to pay attention to some activities and give them the time they require. Anyone that is about to do physical activity of any kind needs to do a warm-up. Those physical activities could be anything from snow shoveling, gardening, to physical recreation like biking, swimming, running or gym workouts. Taking the 5-15 minutes to do a warm-up will enhance performance during the activity and it will reduce the risk of you sustaining an injury that could put you down for a couple of weeks. Is 10 minutes of preparation potentially worth a couple of weeks of pain and lost income??

Why do a warm-up?

When you are sitting in a chair you are getting about 15-20% of the blood flow to your skeletal muscles. The blood vessels within the muscles are closed. When you begin to exercise the blood flow increases to 70-75% in about 10-12 minutes. Along with opening the blood vessels, there is an increase in temperature and oxygen going to the muscles which relates to better performance. Since there is an increase in temperature the muscles are suppler and are able to react faster and more efficiently. There is also an increase in the speed of transmission of nerve impulses which improves your motor function.

If you are not doing a warm up that relates to the workout you are about to do you are at a higher risk of tearing muscles or having exercise-induced heart rate abnormalities. Preparing your body for the impending workload helps the heart and blood vessels adjust to the body’s increased demand for blood and oxygen and may help reduce the extent of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) you feel later.

Use your warm up as an opportunity to

  • Increase your resting flexibility
  • Eliminate myofascial restrictions in problem areas
  • Improve joint mobility and decrease joint trauma
  • Improve your muscle integration between the core and extremities
  • Improve standing balance
  • Eliminate unnecessary joint and soft tissue trauma that leads to injury

A Good Warm-up will:

1. Dynamically lengthen muscles so they will easily accommodate the movements your workout is going to require by increasing your flexibility and dealing with any stiffness you may have.

Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching utilizing momentum in an effort to propel the muscle into an extended range of motion not exceeding one’s static-passive stretching ability, e.g. arm circles, arm crossovers (in front of body) straight leg kicks (swings) , side lunges reaching across with opposite arms

2. Get your movement response time at 70% or better based on of what you are going to ask the body to do in your workout. Considering most interval training workouts or strength workouts are going to require a pretty quick response time, you will need to make sure your warm-up has taken into consideration all the muscles to be exercised. Simply put, go through the motions of the exercises you will be doing without any resistance. This is also the time you will realize if something ‘isn’t right’ in your movement pattern. If a motion just doesn’t feel right, pay attention. You may need to rest the muscle longer, stretch it out more, release some tension with foam rolling, or maybe you need a chiropractic adjustment.

3. Get a sweat going

Sweating is a great indicator you have warmed-up enough. If you have effectively activated all the muscles to be used you have lubricated your joints and broken through your first wind, now your endorphins have kicked in, you feel good and you are prepared to focus on your workout.

3d puppet with pencil and greencheck mark

Once you establish a warm-up as part of your routine you won’t worry about the why’s of it anymore, you just do it. You won’t be one those individuals that spend less than 5 minutes warming up and being 90% more likely to get injured.

Creating a successful workout means you will increase your results and that’s the whole reason we exercise!

Worried about potential injuries? A personal trainer can help you to determine any risk factors and provide solutions. Contact me today to schedule a session.


Need help? Have questions? I’m here to make it easier. If you have questions, then let’s connect. Book yourself a pressure-free, 20-minute Fitness Breakthrough session. I will help figure out what you need in order to become stronger and healthier version of yourself.


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