Sunday, February 17, 2013

Warm up

When I was young and playing outside I noticed something interesting when I would play a game of tag.  When I first started to run, avoiding the infamous 'it', after just a short burst I was out of breath and could barely move, my motion wasn't smooth at all.  But then after playing for a few minutes the running got easier and easier, till finally it was effortless.  I had no clue that what was happening was my muscles were warming up and getting the blood flow they needed.

Now after years as an athlete, aerobics instructor, designer of fitness programs and continuing student of health and fitness, I have come to know very well the value of the warm up.  It surprises me that even though it is common knowledge now most adult athletes don't respect the power of the warm up.  You can bet that competitive athletes that win at their chosen sport know how important it is.

Basically it's a communication between you and your body, listen to your body and it will signal you that it's ready.  What the warm up consists of is determined by several variables;  what your sport is, what your muscles will be required to do, your conditioning and your body type.  If what your planning to do is bench press heavy weight your warm up will be different from the athlete that is going to run a 5K race, or swim a 100m backstroke.

The first thing you want to do is get the blood pumping to your big muscles, brisk walking, riding a bike or stationary bike, slow running, calisthenics.....any of that type of motion will get the job done.  Then you have to make sure the muscles directly involved in your planned activity are properly warmed as well.  If your going to be doing bench presses then do them with lighter weight to get the muscles involved ready.

Bruce Lee was an amazing athlete, his training was carefully planned since he made his living with his physical skills and fitness.  But one day he was in a hurry to get through his training session and he did some 'good mornings', that is where you reach down and pick up a weight in a bowing motion.  He didn't warm up prior as he normally did and his back hurt him the rest of his life.

I see people at every race I go to standing around talking and socializing until the race start, planning to use the first mile as a slower warm up mile.  Then they end up going to fast at the start and like the kid playing tag, burn out quickly and have to really take it slow to warm up so they can finish the race.  You can look at the people that are doing the constant walking or slow running right up till race time and be assured that one of them will win that race.  Since to win you need to be ready to go hard right from the gun.

Next time you go to a 5K get there in time to get checked in and then spend a half hour moving and getting warmed up, if your not sweating your not warmed up, if your movements don't feel smooth and fluid your not warmed up.  Then when the race starts you can go hard the whole race and I bet if your not used to warming up properly then you will amaze yourself at how well you do.

Thanks for reading.

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