I would guess that if you are reading this post, you have some vested interest in exercise at some level. You might even be really interested in what might be said in this particular blog post based on the title. So, I suppose I could be “preachin’ to the choir” so to speak….but my experience tells me otherwise.
Let’s start with the bottom line: YES, it is NECESSARY to “warm up” before exercise.
Is that so dang hard? Evidently, yes. It’s not the “do I?” so much as the “WHAT do I?”
In high school (78-81) for me, warming up consisted of “hurdle stretches,” jumping jacks, a little jogging, straddle stretches, and maybe some hamstring stretches and calf stretches. Common themes: stretch and wiggle. Oh, and be sure not to bounce when stretching. That was the totality of my education on warm-up…until I met Dan and began working with him regularly. My whole notion of warm-up was trashed from the get-go. Dan teaches joint-specific warm-ups. Oh – and the term warm-up has a whole different connotation if not definition.
The other night I looked at it this way as I moved around my kitchen. What does “warm up” really mean? Well, the oven must pre-heat before it can effectively and efficiently bake food. Water must be heated to do the work of cooking, disinfecting, etc. An iron (although not in my kitchen) must get hot before creating steam or being able to do the work of smashing out those wrinkles. My conclusion, albeit elementary, is that to do specific work, the specific “machine” must be warmed up. It must be ‘ready’ in order to be effective and efficient (not to mention to not totally ruin a quality product).
I visited a personal trainer friend of mine last week and joined a session she gave to another couple. Warm-up was simply doing step-ups to get my heart-rate up. That’s all well and good, but I then had to do 6 stations that used muscle groups other than my heart. I know I am old(er), but let me tell ya, this machine was not ready to do any kind of work. Tight hips, shoulders, and hamstrings made my workout fairly miserable. Oh my heart rate was going and I was sweating, but pretty much everything else hurt.
Don’t get me wrong. I mean no disrespect to my friend at all. Her clients were in the beginning stages of training and needed their heart rate to be checked frequently for health reasons. For me, though, I am now very appreciative of the education I’ve received regarding joint-specific warm-ups. Not just stretches, but warming up the muscles that have to do the hard work during the workout. For instance, doing scapula pull-ups and push-ups along with a rocker-stretch, foam-rolling, and teacup exercises provides a great warm-up, stretching, and recovery-day routine. These exercises focus on the shoulder and should-blade area. There are many more to say the least. For the hips, I finally enjoy doing the sumo wall squat, as well as single-leg deadlift, single-leg abduction, and the combo calf-stretch/hip stretch. Dan has videos and pictures of many of these warm-up exercises demonstrated properly on this blog.
I challenge you to iron your next shirt with a cold iron – make instant oatmeal with cold water – cook a pizza in that cold oven…before the preheat beep has sounded. Or – hey – better yet, just warm up your IRON and put your pizza in the oven and see how fast it bakes. You’ll get the same quality result in the next workout you perform without specific warm-ups. But hey, you be the judge.