We all know the scenario. You arrive at the gym, pushed for time
and raring to get your workout over and done with. Warming up takes
time and after all you did just walk all the way from the car
park!!! So how can we convince you of
the importance of always including the warm-up and show you the
risks if you just throw yourself straight into the gym without any
• Raising Core Body temperature - Muscles will be much more
responsive due to the increase in blood supply and oxygen to the
working muscles. REMEMBER warmed up muscles are able to exert
greater power - a definite plus!
• Improved Flexibility and Mobility - Due to the increase in
blood supply the muscles become more pliable and the joints secrete
synovial fluid which acts as a lubricant - think of oiling your
bike to keep all the parts working efficiently.
• Mental preparation - A warm-up gives you time to focus on the
exercise ahead and leave the stresses of the day behind. You
wouldn't ask an Olympic diver to throw himself off a height without
some sort of mental preparation - now would you?
Injury - Decreasing your risk of injury is the MAIN reason to
warm-up. Cold muscles are more susceptible to injury due to lack of
elasticity. Imagine your muscles as a piece of chewing gum. If you
tried to stretch it when it was cold and just out the wrapper, it
would snap. But if you chew it for a few minutes and allow it to
warm-up, then you can stretch it to your hearts content.
Mobilise joints - include movements that take your joints
through their full range e.g. shoulder circles. This increases
synovial fluid production. Lower body mobilisation can be done on
the cardio equipment.
A 10 minute pulse-raiser - helps raise body temperature
and should leave you 'mildly' sweating. In the gym this can be
done on the cross trainer, bike etc.
Powerplate - warms-up the muscle fibres super fast and offers an
alternative warm-up for weights equipment. 1 minute for lower body
(e.g. mid-squat) and 1 minute for upper body (e.g. press-up
Specific Warm-up - concentrates on the body part about to be
used through rehearsal e.g. performing the first couple of sets
of an exercise using light weights.
The Big Question - Pre-workout stretching? It's been
shrouded in controversy for some time. Should we stretch before a
workout, or should we simply not bother and get on with our
According to Robin Redgrave, Director of YMCAfit, exercise
sessions where joints remain within a controlled range of movement
(as in a resistance machine session or a group indoor cycling
session) may not need a stretching component during the warm-up.
However given that the jury is currently out on this issue, it
wouldn't hurt to spend a couple of minutes stretching the muscles
about to be used in your workout. However spending ten minutes
static stretching after the warm-up, where the body temperature is
allowed to drop completely defeats the aim of the warm-up and may
actually increase your risk of injury! Don't waste time - get on
with the workout!
From a weight training point, warm muscles are able to exert
greater power, contract more efficiently and for longer before
With regards to cardio training, research shows that an
effective warm-up can increase exercise time and enable you to
continue for longer.
So start your workout with a big bang and prep yourself
Now that we've got you hot and bothered and raring to go, you'll
have to wait until the next issue to check out more top tips to get
the most out of your workout.