Warming up before hitting the gym is undoubtedly recognised as being important for both improving performance and reducing the chance of injury. It is a time in which you can prepare yourself for the gym both physically and mentally, increasing circulation and muscle temperature and thus reducing the risk of over stretching. However, to achieve the best results possible there are certain tips that are useful to bear in mind.
1. Build it up gently
Don’t make the mistake of starting a warm up with anything heavy. High rep (for example, 10 repetitions per set or above) warm ups will fatigue your muscles before you’ve even started working out, releasing lactic acid into your bloodstream and reducing strength needed for exercise and injury prevention. By doing a higher number of sets of low reps, increasing weight or exertion incrementally each time, you’ll ease your body in to your work out. Bodybuilding.com recommends 3-5 warm up sets of about 6 reps per set.
2. Save stretching until your cool down
Stretching your muscles before working out causes the muscle fibres to temporarily weaken, increasing the risk of injury. It is best to reserve any stretching until after you’ve finished at the gym. However, if any of the muscles you are about to train are particularly tight, by all means stretch them. A good warm up stretching technique in this case is called PNF stretching, in which the tightened muscle is lengthened by contracting the partner muscle for 6 seconds, allowing the problematic muscle to relax.
3. Tailor your warm up to your work out
Your work out will be significantly easier and more effective if your warm up is a smaller, lighter version of the specific exercise you’ll be completing at the gym. The central nervous system uses the warm up to pick up patterns, and by failing to match the two you won’t be preparing the nervous system for what’s about to happen at the gym. If you’re going to be running, warm up by jogging and build it up gradually.
4. Keep a constant speed
Try to avoid stopping and starting your warm up. Keep a steady rhythm, and try to rest only as long as it takes to change weight or exercise type.
5. Remember warm ups are very personal
Both warming up and working out are very subjective experiences. Ideally, take the time to experiment with whatever method suits you best and yields the best results for you, and don’t persevere with a technique popular with others if it’s not working for you.
These tips will help you find a workout that will suit you best as an athlete, helping to improve performance and reduce the risk of any gym-related injuries.
If you do find that you develop an injury at the gym, you should seek advice from your Healthcare Practitioner. He/she are likely to suggest you carry out certain rehabilitation exercises or maybe purchase a support to help speed up your injury recovery time. Supports, such as the Wrist Supports from www.TalarMade.com are ideal for sport injuries. Some Wrist Supports such as the Bodymedics Basic Wrist Brace are useful for mild wrist sprains, carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis.