A warm-up is generally described as a person preparing the body for physical activity. It can be either general in nature or more specific to the activity. A general warm-up consists of movements that do not necessarily have any movement specificity to the actual activity to be performed (i.e. walking on a treadmill or riding a bike prior to weight training). A specific warm-up consists of movements that more closely mimic those of the actual activity (i.e. unweighted squats and push-ups prior to weight lifting).
Here are a few benefits and effects of a warm-up:
- Increases heart rate and respiratory rate, helping to increase the cardiorespiratory system's capacity to perform work. Also increasing blood flow to active muscle tissue and increases the oxygen exchange capacity.
- Increases tissue temperature, which increases the rate of muscle contraction, increases the efficiency of opposing muscle contraction and relaxation, increases metabolic rate and increases soft tissue extensibility.
- Increases psychological preparation and mental readiness for exercise.
A warm-up should last about five to ten minutes at a low to moderate intensity. A complete warm-up should include both general and specific warm-ups, with the inclusion of cardio and flexibility programming.
For optimum results, don't neglect your warm-up. It can help to ensure superb performance in your routine and ultimately, help you to achieve your fitness goal safely and effectively.