Gym Training Warming Up Tips
Minimise your risk to ongoing injuries by making sure that you warm yourself properly before undergoing any rigorous, physical activity.
Tip #1: Don’t just go through the motions
When doing your warm up sets at the gym, treat the lighter weight the exact same as you would a heavy set. This helps with making you form a habit and consistency of movement which will better prepare you for your working sets. Warm up sets have multiple benefits, one of which is that it lets you get comfortable with the movement, so when weight is added, only the resistance of the weight is the challenge not the movement pattern.
Tip #2: The old “she’ll be right” approach may not be the best approach
When warming up if something doesn’t feel good, work out why! If you start an exercise and something feels stiff, off, sore, tight, painful or any other adjective spend time addressing what is causing that. Or, even better, see a physio to identify what is going on and get strategies to address this. It’s better to be proactive than reactive!
Tip #3: Have purpose
The warm up is there to get you ready for the workout. It can be easy to be in a rush, or to want the workout to be over with because motivation is low. But know the warm up has purpose, for better performance and injury prevention. Know why you are doing it and make it part of the workout routine.
Tip #4: Stretching: Static versus dynamic
Don’t do static stretches before your training. Static stretches are great as part of a mobility routine or cool down but not ideal before you start throwing weights around. Static stretches are where you maintain a constant stretch staying still e.g. the classic quad stretch by bending your knee holding your ankle behind you. Go for dynamic movements, these are stretches and mobility exercises that are moving through ranges e.g. leg swings.
Tip #5: Cardio does not equal “warmed up”
Gone are the days of PE in school where doing two laps of the oval was the warm up for that lesson. Warming up needs to be specific to what you want to achieve. If you are training for a running event, warm up for the run. If you normally get on the treadmill for 10min before weight training that is great! It gets the blood moving, and heart rate but don’t neglect any further warming up. Start to then get specific for what you are training e.g. not going for a run and then heading straight into your first set of overhead shoulder press.
Tip #6: Be specific, or start general, then get specific
If you feel good with your heart rate up and a bit of a sweat before training great! Do some general cardio then start doing warm up exercises and movements that become more specific to your needs and the exercises you are doing that day. For example, if you are training legs and you know hip mobility is a concern address hip mobility and if squats are the first exercise, warm up with squats.
Tip #7: Identify a weakness or deficit, do something about it.
Warming up can act as a good system check and provides a good opportunity to see improvements in other aspects of training. If something doesn’t feel good, don’t ignore it. Maybe look at incorporating strategies in your warm up to address that. If you know your hamstrings can limit your mobility, address that and see improvement over time.
Tip #8: Quality over Quantity
A good 5min warm up routine is better than a 20min poor routine. Don’t rush the warm up, spend the time warming up properly. Spend time where time needs to be spent. You’ve already done the hard part of getting yourself to the gym, warm up properly to make sure the workout is a good one.
Tip #9: Rituals can help
While some professional athletes can have weird and wonderful pre-game rituals making the warm up a ritual can help you too. While going through your routine, get yourself in the training headspace, enjoy listening to your favourite gym playlist and mentally prepare for the workout.
Tip #10: Think about what you are trying to achieve
It is great to envision the goals of your training and the final product. If you begin to reverse engineer your destination you want to have the best strategies to facilitate it. It doesn’t matter if you are aiming for an personal record in the squat rack or playing with the grandkids. Every workout counts and every workout starts with the warm up!
If you think your current warm up routine is not doing enough, if there is an old niggle you are just not having luck on improving, or simply, you would like an assessment to see where to start; contact Functional Health for a skilled physiotherapist to make sure you are getting the most out of every workout and reach your goals.