A few weeks ago I explained to you why I think that it is so important to warm up before you start your workout. Today I am going to clarify the type of thing that your warm up should consist of.

Broadly speaking, your warm up should take you about 5-10 minutes to complete and contain the following components:

Pulse raising exercises
Mobility exercises
Preparatory stretches

Why 5-10 minutes?

There are several factors that affect the exact length of time you need to warm up for, for example:

Temperature – In cold conditions a longer warm up will be necessary to suitable “warm the body up”. The opposite is true in warmer conditions.

Intensity of the session – if the session is going to be very demanding and challenging more time should be spent in the warm up phase.

Ability levels – Sedentary individuals will require a longer and more gradual warm up. Similarly, older adults, as well as ante and postnatal participants, will need a lengthier warm up phase.

So what exactly is a pulse raising exercise?

A pulse raising exercise is something that gradually elevates the heart rate and warms up the muscles of the body. They should be of a low to moderate intensity, rhythmical, continuous and progressive in intensity. For example, start with a walk (very little impact on joints), then progress into a light jog before adding in arm movements (like punches out to the front/side/above).

And mobility exercises?

Before any activity it is sensible to prepare the body’s major joints. A ‘whole body’ approach uses warm up exercises that involve multiple joints, increasing the range of motion without loading them by using weights or impact. Examples of such exercises are knee bends, ankle circles and trunk twists are. Many of these exercises can be incorporated into a pulse raiser.

Do you really need to do Preparatory stretches?

Preparatory stretches prepare all the major muscle groups to be used in the proposed activity. The aim is to prepare the muscles for exercise by taking them through their full range of motion. We achieve this by doing dynamic stretches (stretches with movement which also help keep your heart rate elevated).

Dynamic stretches typically involve performing eight to twelve repetitions of controlled, full range movements. They should only be carried out when your body temperature has been increased and all the major joints mobilised. Dynamic stretches can prepare the muscles for the exact joint actions and muscle contractions performed in the exercise session by replicating some of the movement that will be used. For example, concentrate on lower leg stretches before going running.

So there you go!!!

Aileen xxx