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Warm up: How to warm up properly

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 374 views

The term ” warming up ” may sound stuffy, but the warm-up should be the prelude to any sporting activity. Regardless of whether you are a professional or recreational athlete. Because the warm-up prepares the body for the coming strain and protects it from injuries – with a manageable amount of time. Find out how warming up affects the body and why the psyche also benefits.

How do I properly warm up?

Warming up is to the athlete what warming up is to the musician. It prepares him or his muscles, tendons, ligaments as well as the cardiovascular system and the psyche for the upcoming sporting stress. Because a supple body with good blood circulation and an alert mind are important factors in order to perform well and, above all, to avoid injuries.

There is no fixed procedure or order of exercises when warming up. Which exercises are suitable depends on the athlete and the sport. Age, fitness and time of day also play a role. For example, the body needs a little longer in the morning to “wake up” because it has, among other things, shut down its circulation and metabolism overnight.

As individual as the warm-up may be, there are a few general rules:

Moderate intensity

The body temperature should only rise slowly during the warm-up, the athlete shouldn’t already work out before the actual sports unit starts. Whatever the warm-up program, it should feel relaxed and tailored to the needs of the individual athlete. Slight sweating and slightly reddened skin are okay, panting is not.

sufficient duration

A two-minute bounce is a nice start to a warm-up—but it doesn’t stop there. It should be at least ten to 15 minutes, older and untrained athletes should take longer.

Continue sporting directly

There should be no more than five minutes between the end of the warm-up and the start of the training session or competition. Otherwise the increased blood flow to the muscles will decrease again.

General warm-up: How it works!

This means a discipline-independent warm-up. Sport, no matter what kind, should never be done with cold muscles, tendons and from a dormant circulatory system in order to avoid injuries caused by overexertion and lack of concentration. During a general warm-up, the large muscle groups are activated – 1/6 to 1/3 of the muscles that will be mainly used later should be addressed – and the organism as a whole is stimulated.

The following exercises, for example, are well suited for a general warm-up, whether before football, jogging or in physical education class:

Various warm-up methods

There are basically three types of warm-up:

Active: In this form of warm-up, the athlete actively moves individual muscles or muscle groups, for example by trotting or playing ball. However, it only puts a moderate strain on the body, i.e. at most up to half of the maximum capacity.

Passive: This category includes massages and baths, i.e. things that improve blood circulation in the skin and relax the muscles. That’s why passive warm-up measures are actually more of a ” cool-down ” after exercise.

Mental: Mental warm-ups are designed to prepare the athlete’s mind for the task ahead. They clear your head, reduce nervousness and, at best, mentally arm the athlete against any crisis situations during training or competition. Such mental preparation must be learned with the help of a trainer or specialist literature.

Sport-specific warm-up

The name already suggests it: During the sport-specific warm-up, specific exercises are carried out that prepare for the respective discipline and address the typical muscle groups.

Warm up for jogging

When warming up for a jog , exercises can improve ankle flexibility, loosen calf and hamstring muscles, or stretch hip muscles for a stretched stride, depending on the athlete’s weak area. These exercises are also suitable for warming up in football, handball or other ball sports that emphasize running.

Warm up before strength training

When warming up for strength training , you make your muscles warm and supple for the weights, for example with jumping rope, squats or very easy trotting.

Classic representatives of the sport-specific warm-up are technique and coordination exercises such as running ABC or one-legged cranking on the bike, but back, pelvic or leg gymnastics and stretching also belong to this category.

Warm up: the best exercises

You can find out which exercises are best suited for warming up in the warm-up exercises article .

Warm up – the equipment

You don’t need any special equipment to warm up. If you prefer exercises that are performed while sitting or lying down, you can put an exercise mat underneath. Otherwise you wear the sportswear for the subsequent discipline – and either flat shoes, socks or you stay barefoot.

Especially in winter, the body needs some time to get up to speed. Many athletes therefore wear a jacket or long-sleeved sports shirt during warm-up exercises . The additional clothing is removed as soon as the muscles are warm and the circulation is stimulated.

Warm up – that’s it

Warming up before exercising prepares the body and mind for what is to be achieved in the subsequent training session. Proper warm-up means doing appropriate exercises at light to mild-moderate intensity. First of all, this causes the body temperature of the athlete to rise. 39 degrees Celsius is considered optimal for sporting activities, since the psychological reactions are most effective then.

In addition, the warm-up allows the athlete to breathe more deeply, so that the increased oxygen demand is met. Nerves and muscles are “awakened” and encouraged to work together better, which accelerates reaction times and delays fatigue.

In addition to these training-relevant advantages, warm-up training also has positive effects on health in terms of:

  • Cardiovascular system: Warm-up exercises make the heart beat faster and allow more blood to circulate throughout the body. On the one hand, this has the advantage that the muscles are better supplied with nutrients and oxygen and metabolic waste products (lactate) are removed more quickly. But warming up also helps prevent cardiovascular ailments that can occur when the body is rushed from 0 to 100 unprepared.
  • Blood pressure: When warming up, the upper (systolic) blood pressure value increases. That is, the difference between this and the lower (diastolic) value increases. As a result, the blood flows faster and supplies the muscles better. If you have low blood pressure and feel cold easily, you can also use the usual warm-up exercises to fire up your body heat in everyday life.
  • Joints and ligaments: Those who are prone to joint problems and ligament injuries in particular should not skip the warm-up program. Because the warm-up causes the body to produce more joint fluid (synovia) – and this is an excellent damper when it comes to physical exertion such as running, cycling and the like. Plus: Because the body temperature rises, tendons and ligaments become more supple.
  • Psyche: stress , worries, bad mood? This not only puts pressure on the psyche, but also distracts the concentration from the actual activity – the sport. And if you’re not careful, you’re more likely to get injured. A short warm-up program increases concentration and perception. It also increases motivation for the upcoming session, clears the mind and reduces nervousness before a tough session or an important competition.

Who is the warm-up suitable for?

Anyone who plays sports should warm up beforehand. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional or occasional athlete, beginner or veteran, young person or pensioner. Because every body becomes more resistant to injury if it is not pushed cold into a sporting activity.

There are only differences in the duration of the warm-up program: the less trained and/or older you are, the more thoroughly you should warm up. That means up to 30 minutes. On the other hand, experienced, young athletes can get by with ten minutes. For example, if your breathing rhythm feels “round,” that’s a sign you’re warmed up enough.

Warm up & calorie burn

If you warm up, you save energy. This means that it helps the body to establish a balance between energy consumption and energy supply more quickly. However, you don’t burn a significant number of calories during an average warm-up workout. Frustrated, those who want to lose weight should not do without a warm-up. The subsequent sports unit takes care of the calories.

Warm up & Pregnancy

Contrary to previous opinion, regular, gentle exercise is good for mums-to-be. However, you should always warm up with light exercises beforehand. Because the connective tissue in the joints and ligaments is already loosened during pregnancy , making tendons and ligaments more susceptible to injury than usual. Anyone who starts from cold now also increases the risk of injury.

Warming up – Mistakes to avoid

While a warm-up is useful for everyone active, that doesn’t mean everyone gets it right. Probably the most common mistake when warming up is that you don’t do it at all or don’t take enough time for it. When warming up, you should also avoid:

  • go to the limit: The warm-up should lead to the following sporting challenge and not already represent one. If you overdo the warm-up, you will tire prematurely, become more prone to injury, and have achieved the opposite of what the warm-up is supposed to do.
  • Load yourself one-sidedly or non-functionally: Different warm-up exercises can be useful for every level of performance and every discipline. It is therefore advisable to put together a selection of exercises when warming up from an expert (e.g. trainer in the fitness studio, head of the running group, physiotherapist, etc.) and to have them instruct you accordingly.

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