Just like a post-lifting Cool Down, the pre-workout Warm Out is to be considered just as important as your main training session. We know you like to hit the gym excited and ready to deadlift 300lbs before running a marathon on the incline treadmill, but without getting your body in proper condition first, you’re setting yourself up for potential injury.
Whether you’re doing strength training, sprinting, or jumping into a pickup basketball game at the court, performing a Warm Up will not only prime your heart and lungs for physical action, but will actually improve your muscular strength, speed, and jumping ability.
Start with some flexibility stretches. 5 mins getting your legs, hips and arms limber will help prevent injury as you proceed into harder movements. Then some cardiovascular exercises like Plank Twists and Wall Balls will also get your blood going and critical oxygen pumping in your lungs.
The step phase of Warming Up is deciding what heavier, compound exercises you’re going to do for that day’s session. Even professional bodybuilders perform lighter warmups of each muscle group they intend to work out.
For example, if you’re about to do heavy Barbell Squats, then you’ll still want to warm up with bodyweight Air Squats first. Then try the same movement with just the empty barbell on your back.
Now start adding more plates, performing more sets until you’ve reached your target weight. If you’re planning on the Bench Press, start with a few sets of Pushups.
Although all of this may seem counterintuitive, instead of making you weaker, these lighter movements will actually help you. You’ll find your performance improves, you’re pushing past previous limits, and increasing the maximum of your highest weight and reps.
Again, warming up in this manner will first and foremost prevent injuring a joint or tendon. But take it from personal experience, it’s no fun staying away from the gym for a week due to painful sprained muscle.
Joel Runyon is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE® - performance lifestyle brand encompassing performance apparel & formulas, IMPOSSIBLE Fitness® programs, and a philanthropy arm. An endurance athlete and entrepreneur - he's also the creator of MoveWellApp and owns Ultimate Meal Plans. Find out what next challenge Joel is crossing off his impossible list here.