Warming up activities can be for a variety of reasons, such as for a workout or sports. However, many people have no idea what activities to do for warming their body up and the equipment that makes this even more effective. You can benefit a lot from this simple procedure being utilized daily without there being a particular reason as well.
What Exactly is Warming Up?
This term is used when you perform movements to get your body warmed up. More specifically, this is when you get the blood flowing to your muscles to get them loose, which increases your body temperature, referring to the “warming up” effect.
Aside from the muscles, you are also getting your heart to pump slightly more in preparation for intense physical activities, or simply for heart health. The joints also come into the warming up spectrum because they too need to move and warm up the synovial fluids.
Synovial fluids are what help your joints move in their specific ranges of motion. Think about how machines work. The small moving parts during operation will grind metal against metal without oil lubrication. Synovial fluid is similar by helping joints move fluidly without bone against bone.
Warming up is not your workout, so not a lot of time is needed to perform a simple warm up before activities. Spending too much time on this uses energy that could better be used for your physical activities, and will cause you to get tired fast.
An effective warm up is 5-10 minutes for beginners and those not in the athletic category. 10-20 minutes is normal for athletes and advanced weightlifters. The right warming up activities mainly revolve around what you are about to do, but there are several that can be universally used.
The Correct Way to Stretch for Warming Up
Stretching is a bit of a misinformed topic. The average person is taught to execute stretches that are held in place for 30+ seconds. These are called static stretches because no movement is involved beyond setting up to be in the position chosen. Examples of static stretches are cross chess stretch, stiff leg stretch, and the quadriceps stretch.
This method for warming up is great when utilized properly. Static stretches are only needed for 10-15 seconds because long durations actually signal the muscles to relax instead of activate. Post workout or before bed is when you static stretch for longer holds.
Dynamic warm up stretches are what you want to get the most from. This is when you are actively moving your body to activate and get your blood pumping to the muscles. Examples for dynamic movements are butt kicks, knee ups, bear crawls, and the likes. This can be performed with or without resistance, and a mixture of the two is best for warming up activities.
Warming Up Activities with Resistance
Dynamic stretches and warm up movements work well when you mix in resistance as well. The resistance is not necessarily from dumbbells or other free weights in terms of pre activation. Resistance bands help muscles activate to perform better by making them work against the external force.
An example of pre-activation is to get more glute emphasis from squats. Nobody has the same biomechanics, and use their quads more for squats without much use of the glutes. The natural use of the muscles being lightly used means they are weaker, so your body is going to sense the weakness and use the stronger ones more.
However, you can force the activation and use by incorporating resistance bands into your warming up activities. This allows your body to use the weaker muscles that have been fired up through the warm up. Elastic bands for legs to accomplish this are hip circles, pull-up assist bands, and stride trainers.
Pull-up assist bands are perfect for upper body warm ups as well, but hip circles are more limited when it comes to anything above the hips. The biggest reason being that they are smaller in shape and cannot stretch to arm’s length.
Warming Up Activities
All the exercises used are great for any type of warm up. Whether you are getting your body ready for work, baseball, boxing, etc. does not matter much. Sure, they will have their own specific warm ups also that can be applied, but these are good for everything you need.
The lower body will be noted with what type of band to use for the best motion and ease of use. Warm-ups do not need to be complicated or high in resistance.
Clamshell Exercise (hip circle)
First up for the lower body resistance warm up is the clamshell. This exercise is one named after how it appears, which is your legs opening from the closed position, much like clams do.
The main focus areas for the clamshell exercise are your hips, groin, and glutes. Your thighs and quads get some blood flow as well. The key to these is maintaining the bend in your knees. Pulling your heels in during the opening phase takes away from the movement.
Lay down on your side and place legs into the hip circle, sliding the band up your legs to a couple of inches above your knees. Keeping your body on the floor, bring your legs in from the extended position to form a slight angle with your legs. Execute by simply pulling your knees open against the resistance.
Single-Leg Hamstring Stretch (pull-up assist band)
This stretch is performed in the supine position lying down, which is on your back. Hamstrings and your glutes get the most activation from this exercise for warm up. The goal is to raise one leg extended with the other extended out on the floor with heel down. Try not to let the free leg raise up!
Place the band in the center of your shoe and pull for resistance. Tie if you have trouble or fear the band will release. Stretch the leg statically for 10-12 seconds then begin to do single-leg lifts for dynamic portion 10-12 repetitions. Switch legs and repeat.
Fire Hydrants (hip circle)
Named after the way dogs use the restroom on fire hydrants. The primary muscles being activated are your hips, groin, abductor, and glutes. The key position to this movement is not letting your body twist during the raising of your leg.
This allows easier range of motion but takes away from all the muscle groups and just focusing on hips and groin.
There is no static variation. The movement itself is sometimes referred to as a primary exercise, but the purpose behind it is more for warming up. Step into your hip circle and slide it a few inches above your knees. Take a kneeling position, then go forward and place your palms down onto the floor.
Hand placement should be inline and below your shoulders. Retracting your shoulder blades and keeping your back flat, you execute by keeping your leg in the 90-degree position and raising it laterally from your body against the resistance. Lower down slowly and repeat the exercise 10-12 repetitions per leg.
Front Pull-Apart (pull-up assistance band)
Very basic upper exercise for warming up with resistance. You perform both a static to dynamic stretch. The key to this movement is standing up straight and keeping your chest out. Intended to stretch your chest, shoulders, and upper back.
Grasp the ends of the band in both hands. Place hands in front of chest parallel with the floor and arms fully extended. Open your arms fully holding the bands tightly until arms align with the upper torso. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, and then perform dynamically 10-12 reps opening and closing you’re your arms.
Start Warming Up Better Now
You have an idea of what proper warm-ups look like, and know that movement is better than holding a stretched position. The most effective equipment that should be in every household hold is resistance bands. Not only for warming up but instead can be used specifically to work out with also. You get a lot of uses from some simple elastic bands, which makes them even more of a great choice to have around.