The Components Of A Workout And Why Warm Up?

The Components Of A Workout And Why Warm Up?

When cooking a meal, it is possible to throw a bunch of ingredients in a bowl, mix them up, and then pop them in the oven, but unless you follow a systematic manner of how those ingredients are prepared and added to the dish, you may end up with an inedible mess.

The purpose of a recipe is to provide a guide for how to organize ingredients to prepare a specific meal. Exercise is the exact same way!

If your strategy is just to do a few random exercises that you like or to try to mimic a celebrity’s workout without understanding how it’s actually affecting your body, the results could be muddled or nonexistent.

It’s knowing how and when to perform certain exercises that determine whether they have the desired effect on the body. While the types of equipment or specific exercises might change, the overall structure of a workout should not. Every workout includes three specific components.

The Warm-Up

A warm-up includes low-intensity exercises to elevate the heart rate, raise tissue temperature, and enhance overall activation of the central nervous system (CNS) to prepare the body for the exercises it will perform in the workout.

An effective warm-up could be mobility exercises with just your bodyweight or a lightweight.

It should take less than 10 minutes and should feature low-intensity movements that replicate the more challenging exercises you will perform later.

Here’s an example of a warm-up that can help you properly prepare your body to be ready for exercise.

– Glute bridges: 12 to 15 reps

– High plank: hold for 20 to 40 seconds

– Side plank: hold for 20 to 30 seconds on each side

– Lateral lunges with reach for your opposite foot (e.g., when lunging to your right side, reach for your right foot with your left hand: 8 to 12 on each side)

– Jumping jacks: 12 to 15 reps

Perform these exercises as a circuit, moving from one exercise to the next with minimal rest; rest for about 30 seconds in the end, and complete 2 to 3 circuits.

This may seem a little rudimentary, and the jumping jacks definitely add an old school flavor, but this simple little circuit can have you ready to do hard work in 7 to 10 minutes.

On those days when your schedule gets absolutely jammed, you can do this circuit on its own to get in a little activity. And remember: When it comes to exercise, a little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing!


What the Science Says: Why Warm Up?

A complete, full-body warm-up provides a number of benefits, including the following:

Increased circulation:

Muscles use oxygen and nutrients for fuel. Low-intensity movements as part of a warm-up improve blood flow to muscles, bringing the necessary fuel for the workout. It can take from 8 to 15 minutes to elevate circulation and improve oxygen flow, so be ready to invest that amount of time to adequately prepare your body.

Elevated levels of hormones used for energy production:

Epinephrine and norepinephrine (commonly called adrenaline because it is produced in the adrenal glands) and cortisol are used to help convert fats and carbohydrates to energy used to fuel muscular contractions. During the warm-up, the body starts increasing the production of these hormones so your body has the fuel it needs for the workout.

Reduced risk of muscle strains by increasing tissue temperature:

Muscle and connective tissue have more elasticity at higher temperatures, allowing easier, unrestricted motion of joints used in the exercise.

Activation of the sensory receptors of the CNS:

These receptors are responsible for identifying position changes in the body, which is essential for optimal motor control and coordination during the workout.

Improved neural activation of muscle:

This sounds technical, but muscle contractions are initiated by motor units controlled by the CNS. Warm-up exercises with gradually increasing intensity provide the necessary stimulus to the CNS to ensure that the muscle motor units will produce the requisite forces required for the workout.

Mental preparation:

A consistent warm-up routine will allow the mind to switch off distracting thoughts such as work, family, or social obligations, and to switch on to focus on the upcoming challenging exercises in the workout.

Rehearse movement patterns:

Practice these patterns at a slower, controlled tempo before adding resistance for a core strength workout or increasing speed during a metabolic conditioning workout. Moving at a slower tempo to learn the pattern provides you with the opportunity to correct and improve your form; as your form and technique, improve you will be able to gain strength by additional external resistance or improve metabolic conditioning by moving at a faster tempo with shorter rest intervals.


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