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Warming up properly..... a forgotten activity?

Graham Fit Personal Training
Warming up

Warming up has a definitive purpose before exercise and it is always good to come back and talk about the basics. Why? Simply put..... the basics are being overlooked in many aspects of the improvement of health and fitness today.

With the onset of time constraints and the constant quest for that quick workout to reach that fitness aim, we are living in a world where the basics are being overlooked or deemed unimportant. Trying to shortcut a warm up is detrimental to a workout.

The basics are what keeps us safe during exercise. Body preparation and simple actions providing a foundation to exercise from. There is simple logical behind warming up.

There are lots of reasons why warm ups get skipped. The most common excuse is lack of time. Another is simply not knowing the importance of warming up due to lack of education.

There are lots of claims that state warming up doesn't prevent injury..... yet time and time again we are seeing more and more injuries in training environments yet thorough warm ups are being decreased to popular non existence.


A warm up essentially prepares the body for an exercise session. The blood starts to pump as the body increases temperature..... breathing elevates and the muscles and joints get warm and more "fluid" generally speaking.

Exercises contained in a warm up can mimic the actual exercises the workout is going to involve, which prepares the body not only physically but "sets the mind" on the task at hand..... to be ready for the exercise that will follow.


A warm up directly relates to exercise safety. One option in this scenario could be a thorough ten to fifteen minute interval session on a cross trainer. Even if cardio training is not your focus.

Fifteen minutes hardly amounts to a full on cardio training session as thought by many who lift weights. This is BASIC gym instructing protocol where weights are dominant.

The body is primed, muscles are warm.

Many people have never experienced a thorough body warm up. They fear breathlessness, sweating and dislike the idea. A regular occurrence is..... walking into a gym and doing a two minute walk on the treadmill or a five minute cycle. Then heading straight into the weightlifting room.....

There is every point to warm ups and never overlooking the practice of a thorough warm up.


So what movements should be in a workout? There are endless options and much can be dictated by the type of workout you intend doing. The general format is raising the heart rate and get the body working, blood pumping, and including joint mobility movements increasing the range of motion as you progress.

Poor range of motion in the shoulders are common and a warm up provides the opportunity to improve this. Another reason not to skip warming up. Preparing shoulders for lifting weights as an example has a direct relation on injury prevention.

Flexibility exercises can form part of a warm up if they are done correctly. Depending on the activity, they can be the sole warm up. A point to note. There has been recent "discussions" on avoiding stretching joints before resistance training that may affect the stability of the joint under load. However.....

Is stretching done correctly? Was stretching necessary in this case for that person? Is the workout to follow a good standard? Is attention to technique observed? There can be many reasons and variables for joint instability including lifting beyond your scope of strength.

Never before have we seen a huge decline of poor flexibility and mobility in general across society..... which has consequences on physical ability. This reinforces the importance of APPROPRIATE warm ups for an individual and exercising correctly.


  1. Ten minutes on a cross trainer/five minutes on a ski erg.

  2. Ten minutes to fifteen minutes of activity to include jogging on the spot interspersed with high knee sprints, arm circles, leg swings, jump squats, dive bombers and plank walkouts.

  3. Ten minutes light jogging outdoors or on a cardio machine.

  4. A few rounds with skipping rope.

Exercise is variable and therefore can be adapted and switched up to increase energy expenditure or switched down for gentler warm ups. Appropriate warming up for the activity ahead is also key. Though this article does not take into account specifics such as health conditions, it is general information.


Speaking in the context of general fitness a warm up should thoroughly warm the body and joints. The body should feel like it is starting to work, exert itself and the heart rate elevated. Oxygenated blood is pumping through the muscles where it is needed for the workout. The mind is ready and prepared, sweating is natural though some sweat more than others..... time should be made for warming up as it is simply good practice.

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