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Why You Shouldn't Skip Your Warm-up

You've been there: you arrive at the gym or are in the mood to work out at home and want to get started straight away. But isn't there something missing?

Oh yes – the warm-up! This is far more than just a tedious compulsory exercise. It's extremely important for your body and can make the difference between a good workout and a great one.

Find out why this is the case, what makes a good warm-up and how to integrate it into your training in this article.

What is a warm-up anyway?

Athlete stretching her shoulders

Imagine your body is a car. Before you set off, you need to start the engine and warm it up a bit, especially on cold days. The same applies to your body. A warm-up is like warming up your engine – it prepares your body for the activities ahead.

During the warm-up, you slowly increase your heart rate and get your cardiovascular system going. Your muscles and joints become more supple and flexible thanks to the increased blood flow. You'll also get a feel for how your body feels today – are your legs heavy, your shoulders stiff? You will notice all of this during the warm-up.

The best thing about it? A warm-up doesn't have to last forever. Just 5 to 10 minutes is enough to prepare your body properly. You can find out more about this further down in the article!

What makes a good warm-up?

Athlete who stretches

A good warm-up is the key to a successful workout. It gets your body going and prepares you optimally for the exercises ahead. But what exactly makes a warm-up really effective?

Increasing your heart rate

The first thing you need to do is 'fire up your engine'. This means you should do light cardiovascular activities that get your heart rate up. This could be something like jogging on the spot, jumping rope or a bit of cycling. You want to get your cardiovascular system going without being out of breath right away.

Dynamic stretching

Forget old-fashioned static stretching – we're talking about dynamic stretching here. These are movements that take your muscles through their full range of motion. Arm circles, leg swings or hip circles are great examples of this. The idea behind it? To make your muscles and joints more supple without losing too much tension.

Mobility exercises

Mobility exercises are a must in any good warm-up. They specifically target your joints and help you to improve mobility. Try hip flexor stretches, shoulder circles or a cat-cow movement. Your joints will thank you.

Activation exercises

Now it's time to get down to business: activation exercises. These exercises prepare the specific muscle groups for what you plan to do in the main part of the workout. Are you planning squats? Then do a few squats without weight (air squats) to activate your legs.

Fun and variety

A good warm-up shouldn't be boring. Make it varied and have fun. Vary your exercises, try new things and keep it exciting. After all, the warm-up should motivate you and not put you to sleep.

How long should a warm-up last?

Athlete with a skipping rope in his hand

If you are unsure how much time you should plan for your warm-up, here is some information that will hopefully help you:

  • The magic number - 10 to 20 minutes: As a general rule, a good warm-up should last between 10 and 20 minutes. Why? This is the perfect amount of time to really get your body going without exhausting yourself.

  • The first 5 minutes - cardio training: Start with about 5 minutes of light cardio training such as jogging on the spot, jumping rope, cycling or a few minutes on the treadmill. The aim is to increase your heart rate and get your circulation going. You should work up a light sweat but still be able to chat easily.

  • The next 5-10 minutes - Dynamic stretching and mobility: Then it's on to dynamic stretching and mobility exercises. Move your muscles through their full range of motion - arm circles, leg swings and hip circles are your best friends here. Add in some mobility exercises like cat-cow stretches or shoulder circles to loosen up your joints.

  • The last 5 minutes - activation exercises: Finally, do exercises that activate the muscles you'll need in the main part of the workout. These could be air squats, push-ups or light weightlifting exercises. The aim is to wake up your muscles and prepare them for the workout ahead.

Different workouts, different warm-ups

Of course, the exact duration of your warm-up also depends on the intensity of your planned training.

Here are a few examples:

  • Light training: Plan around 10 minutes for your warm-up. You won't be pushing yourself to your limits, but your body should still get up to operating temperature.

  • Intensive training: You should invest 15 to 20 minutes here. Your body needs more preparation to be able to cope with the higher load safely.

  • Competition preparation: You can warm up a little longer before a competition to ensure that you are fully prepared.

The most important thing: listen to your body. If you feel that you need more time to warm up, take it. If you feel ready after just 10 minutes, you're good to go. Every body is different.

What can I do as a warm-up?

Woman holding a PVC bar

There are many different warm-up exercises you can try. Here are a few examples of an effective warm-up program:

General warm-up

  • 5 minutes of light cardio training: jogging on the spot, jumping rope or cycling.

  • Dynamic stretching: Arm circles, leg swings, hip circles.

  • Mobility exercises: Cat-cow stretch, hip flexor stretch, shoulder circles.

  • Activation exercises: Air squats, push-ups, planks.

Specific warm-up for CrossFit

  • Jump rope for 3 minutes: To get the circulation going.

  • PVC Pipe Drills: Shoulder rotations and overhead squats with a PVC bar.

  • Burpees: 3 sets of 10 repetitions to activate your entire body.

  • Light weightlifting exercises: Technique training with lighter weights.

Mobility-focused warm-up

  • Foam rolling: 5 minutes to loosen up tight muscles.

  • Dynamic stretching: Lunges with upper body rotation, leg pendulum.

  • Yoga flow: Sun salutation to improve your flexibility and mobility.

Why you shouldn't skip your warm-up

Athlete warming up with a PVC bar

As you now know, a warm-up is not just a nice extra, but an essential part of your workout. It doesn't matter whether you're a beginner or an advanced athlete.

Here are the top 4 reasons why you should ALWAYS take time to warm up:

  • Improved blood flow: a warm-up increases blood flow to the muscles, which improves oxygen and nutrient delivery.

  • Optimal muscle contractions: Warmed-up muscles contract more efficiently, which reduces the risk of strains.

  • Heart rate increase: A gradual increase in heart rate prepares your cardiovascular system for more intense activities.

  • Psychological preparation: A good warm-up gives you the opportunity to mentally tune into your training and focus on your goals.

Keep at it and enjoy your training! And remember: a good warm-up is the first step to becoming your best self.




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