Why Warm-Up Exercises Are Non-Negotiable

Every good workout starts with a good warm-up.

Erin Fisher Author Image
Erin Fisher

February 16, 2018

The Goals Of A Good Warm-Up - Hero image

I can’t be bothered.

I don’t have time.

It’s boring.

I already feel warm.

We hear you - there are plenty of reasons why people skip their warm-up exercises before a workout, but just hear us out on this one. If you’re missing your warm-up, you could actually be cheating yourself of your best possible workout.

Making time for your warm-up exercises kickstarts several changes in your body which prepare it for the movement to come, can improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury, not to mention getting your head in the game.

Here’s what happens when you prioritise your warm-up, what to do and why it should be a non-negotiable part of your workout routine.

What should a good workout warm-up include?

Luckily, figuring out your warm-up isn’t something you need to worry about if you’re using the Sweat app. Every workout includes its own warm-up section that’s been specifically designed to prime your body for your chosen training style and the exercises to follow. This might include cardio exercises, dynamic stretches, muscle activation exercises, or a combination.

If you’re skipping the in-app warm-up or doing another workout, we still recommend the same type of exercises to get you feeling ready to move. According to the American Heart Association, the aim of your warm-up is to gradually increase your body’s temperature and heart rate, and increase blood flow and oxygen to your muscles and joints.

Warming up your body helps to minimise stress on your heart and prepares your respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and research has shown that warming up can also lead to improvements in your physical performance. Who wouldn’t want to make time for that?

Including dynamic stretches or muscle activation exercises can also help you mentally focus and ensure you have a strong mind-muscle connection before you begin more complex movements or heavier lifts.

Light cardio

If you’re short on time or only going to do one thing for your warm-up, a few minutes of low-intensity cardio is always a great place to start. If you’re training in a gym, you can walk on a treadmill, hop on a stationary bike or elliptical, or try your hand at rowing. Any cardio you do will increase your heart rate, temperature, blood flow and breathing.

Don’t have access to a gym or any cardio machines? No problem. Start with a brisk walk or gentle jog outside, a boxer’s shuffle on the spot, or even a few minutes of jump rope.

Dynamic stretches

Once you’re feeling a bit warmer, dynamic stretches are a great addition to your warm-up and can help by actively moving your muscles and joints through their full range of motion. This style of stretching aims to increase your reach, optimise your active range of motion, improve blood flow to your tissues and prepare your muscles and tendons for your Sweat session.

Where you might finish your workout with a few static stretches that you hold in place, dynamic stretches involve active movement - think leg swings, cat cow, arm circles, trunk twists or side lunges.

Muscle activation exercises

Finally, the cherry on the top. Muscle activation exercises are targeted, low-intensity exercises designed to increase blood flow, prime your muscles and offer a pre-workout reminder of what it feels like when you’re properly working a certain muscle group. This can help you get more out of your workout and move with correct form.

One 2019 study found that when muscular pre-activation exercises were performed, there was a positive effect on the amount of explosive force generated.

If you were about to do a lower body session, your muscle activation exercises might include crab walks, clam shells, donkey kicks or glute bridges. Muscle activation exercises often have you feeling the burn, but they shouldn’t be super challenging.

Warm Up Article Image 2: Katie Martin Stretching

What are the goals of a good warm-up?

A good warm-up gets your body and mind ready for more intense exercise by stimulating your cardiovascular system, as well as your muscles, joints and mind. When you can tick these checkboxes, you know you’re ready to start working out.

You should feel warm

Whatever warm-up you do should leave you feeling warm after slowly increasing your body temperature. If you’re still feeling cold, continue with some light cardio for a few more minutes so that you can move with more ease when you get into the main part of your workout.

Your muscles and joints should feel more mobile

Feeling warm isn’t just about your body temperature, it’s also about your muscles and joints. After your warm-up exercises, you should feel less stiff, more mobile and ready to take on a workout, whether you’re doing Pilates, bodyweight training, heavy lifting or barre.

Priming your muscles and joints means you can straight away drop into a deeper squat, a faster burpee, or a more powerful kettlebell swing.

You feel more energised and focused

If your warm-up has already tired you out before your workout has begun, you’re going too hard. You want to feel alert and energised from the increase in endorphins and blood flow, not drained and out of breath.

Warm-up exercises are also just as much about what’s happening in your mind. We love to think of this part of your Sweat session as a chance to get your head in the game, tune into your body, and focus on strengthening your mind-body connection to avoid injury and get the most out of every movement.

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Ready for your first workout?

Give yourself the gift of a good warm-up

Even if you only have a couple of minutes to spare, you should always dedicate some time to warming up, and Sweat’s in-app warm-ups are always a great option if you want to take the guesswork out of it. Remember: an effective warm-up doesn’t need to be long!

Easing into exercise can help you start your session with a bang, perform at your best, and push yourself a little bit harder.

Now you know what a good warm-up looks and feels like, aim to get it done before each training session.

Erin Fisher Author Image
Erin Fisher

Erin is a writer and editor at Sweat with years of experience in women's publishing, media and tech. She's passionate about the power of movement, and you can often find her on a yoga mat, a hike, a dance floor, in the ocean or the gym.

Warm Up

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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