YES! Clients Need to Warm-Up

Hey Fit Pros….didn’t you love watching the Olympics? One of my favorite events is the 100 Meter sprint. It is incredible how much training goes into a race that takes less than 15 seconds! Even on race day the sprinters warm up for about an hour for a short sprint race. This inspired me to remind our personal trainers and our clients about how important a proper warm up really is.

Share this info with your staff and your clients. Remind them how critical warming up is!

kneedipb2The body does not respond very well going from inactivity to intense activity. The cardio-vascular, respiratory, musculo-skeletal, and neurological and metabolic energy pathways need to be gradually stimulated in order to perform at an optimal level. You need to lubricate your joints, warm your muscles and connective tissue and slowly wake up your breathing and cardio systems. 

Muscles that are warm have a much better ability to extract and utilize oxygen to produce energy.  As muscles warm up, the enzyme activity level is increased.  This means that fats and sugars are broken down more rapidly, and more energy will be produced.  This will of course, enhance your performance.

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Most of us aren’t Olympic athletes and it will be unlikely that we’ll spend an hour warming up before our workouts and really don’t need to because our workouts won’t be at the same intensity. But at the very least, include a 6-12 minute low intensity warm-up before each workout.  Exercisers in their later years may need an even more extensive warm-up of approximately 15 minutes because our connective tissue is more rigid and tight. Think of it like a new car or new piece of equipment vs an old car or older, rustier piece of equipment…the older car is going to need a little more lube to function! So if you’re an aging exerciser, take a little more time to lube your joints and rev your system and your workouts will feel so much better!

So, for example, if you are going to go for a run, start with a 6 minute walk. Perform some dynamic range of motion movements through your hip, knee, ankle and feet to prep those areas for the pounding of running. If you’re going to cycle, warm-up in an easy gear and spin your legs. If you’re going skiing, start with easy green runs before you move to the Blue and Black Diamond Runs. If you are going to strength train, start with similar movements with minimal load or just your body weight. A warm-up and cool-down should generally involve the same workout activity but at a much lower intensity and at a low impact level.

It’s also important to cool down appropriately post-workout. Your body does not respond very well going from intense activity to complete rest.  Your heart, lungs, muscles, joints, and energy systems require a gradual cool-down to avoid blood pooling in the lower extremities, dizziness and to assist in the recovery process. So again, finish with a walk or an easier gear to allow your body to cool down.

And remember that a deep stretch should not happen prior to a workout because your muscle and connective tissue isn’t warm enough. Deep stretching and muscle release should happen post workout after your cool down but a warm-up should be dynamic and in motion.

Yours in health, fitness & business,
Sherri McMillan

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