Everyone knows you “should” warm up before a workout. However, skipping warm-ups is quite common given busy schedules and the perception that warm-ups are optional. You might wonder, is it Really so important to skip the warm-ups? The answer is an emphatic yes. If you’re unsure of the main dangers of not warming up before workouts, listen up.
Skipping warm-ups is a bad idea for several reasons, all based on scientific research. In this article, I’ll tell you the three most important reasons why you should always warm up before your workouts. And after that, I’ll give you a quick overview of a general warm-up protocol that you can use before most types of workouts to avoid the problems below.
Keep reading to learn all about the dangers of not warming up before workouts, and then don’t miss 5 exercise habits that are destroying your body after 40.
Increased risk of injury
Scientists have thoroughly examined the benefits of warm-up protocols when it comes to injury risk. Injuries are a risk factor in both general fitness and athletics, so any means of reducing the risk of injury is very valuable.
A recent 2022 meta-analysis of injury prevention warm-up programs found significant evidence that warm-ups reduced sports injury incidents among this population.
Previous research has come to similar conclusions. Although some studies have not shown benefits, the vast majority of published studies support the use of warm-ups to reduce the risk of injury during physical activity.
With that in mind, skipping warm-ups increases your risk of injury.
Warming up isn’t just about avoiding injury. In fact, warming up before your workout or activity plays a direct role in increasing your performance. Given the substantial interest in maximizing athletic performance, scientists have certainly looked into the matter.
A 2010 meta-analysis found that 79% of studies on the subject found that warming up led to improved performance in the various activities examined by each study. More recent research has come to similar conclusions.
As such, skipping your warm-up effectively lowers your performance.
Soreness after workouts is a reality for progressing in fitness. However, there is no harm in reducing the pain and corresponding discomfort using methods without side effects. This includes warming up.
Although you won’t completely eliminate soreness with a warm-up, a 2012 study found that an aerobic warm-up reduces muscle soreness in areas of each muscle that are closer to your body.
Personally, I will do everything I can to have less pain after training.
Recommended general warm-up protocol
You can use the following warm-up protocol before most workouts. Do this before starting the main exercises. For resistance training, you should always perform one to two lighter sets of each exercise in your program as a specific warm-up.
- Five minutes of light aerobic activity, aiming for a heart rate of 110-120 BPM.
- Two sets of the following exercises:
- 10 small arm circles
- 10 large arm circles
- 10 squats
- 10 slots
- 10 downflows from dog to cobra
You can swap other light resistance exercises, but try to focus on movements that move through large ranges of motion with your big muscles. Keep the weight very light; this warm-up should not exhaust your muscles before training.
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in the health and fitness field for 15 years. Learn more about Tyler
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