Updated: Apr 21, 2022
It’s common to underestimate the value of the warmup. Sometimes it's because of the excitement to get to the main part of the workout; sometimes because we think warmups are boring. Perhaps most often, we’re simply in a rush. Whatever the reason, the truth is we don’t know the true value and importance of the warmup as part of the whole workout.
Most of us have heard the warnings or the coaching that a proper warm-up helps prepare the body for aerobic and anaerobic exercise. We also know that warm-up gradually increases the activity of the cardiovascular system by raising the body temperature, increasing blood flow to the muscles, and even reducing muscle soreness and reduce the risk of injury.
Obviously, these are important facts about warming up, but we can enjoy even more benefits from the warmup process if we target our warm-up with the main goal of the workout we are getting ready to tackle.
In order to glean all the benefits from the warm-up, it’s important to know what kind of exercise we will perform during the main part of the work out:
Each type of workout challenges different metabolic pathways in our bodies--which is actually one of the goal outcomes! The better the warm-up, and the more the warmup targets the right muscles and metabolic pathways, the better you’ll be able to perform the main set, and the more you’ll get out of the whole session!
Here are some examples of the right warm-ups to prepare you for each type of workout:
If the workout is a strength workout (anaerobic), an aerobic warm-up (like 10 minutes of easy jogging), is not enough to get the best results from the strength session. Of course, the aerobic warm-up just before the strength training can deliver the benefits of increase the body temperature and boosting blood flow, but performing 2-3 series of complete body or major muscle resistance exercises (like burpees) can provide the best performance-enhancing warm-up for the main session and even boost results later.
If you’re preparing for an anaerobic workout with speed work (like 20 to max 120 seconds of sprints), you’ll benefit from a two-part warmup. The first part should include 10 to 15 minutes of low aerobic warm-up and in the second part, 6 to 10 surges of max 30 seconds at 75 to 85 % of max-effort with a rest after each surge, followed by 3-5 rounds of 45 to 90 seconds at 80-90% of max effort.
An aerobic workout should include a warm-up of 5 to 10 min of low intensity (50-60% intensity) aerobic warm-up, followed by a 5-8 min of medium intensity (60-75% intensity).
With these recommendations, you can boost the quality and results of all your workouts!
Manuel Delgado Gaona is a USAT Level II and Youth & Junior Coach, FMTri Level II Certified Coach, an ACSM Exercise Physiologist, and a Physician specializing in Anatomic Pathology. His coaching philosophy is based on exercise efficiency. Coach Manuel can be reached at email@example.com.