A better warmup can increase your training gains

If you are the type of member running into the gym at 6:59, one minute to go this article is for you.

In class, we warm up and mobilise the specific joints for the movement in hand. But many members would benefit from a systematic warmup. To get the body and mind ready for class — especially if they have been sitting down for lengthy periods.

There are a few reasons why a longer warmup in your own time would help.

  • Increase body temperature and heart rate
  • Put muscles through their entire range of motion
  • Stimulate the entire body and major bio-mechanical functions
  • Help the athlete practice and perfect basic movements
  • Prepare the athlete (and their nervous system) for intense exercise

Warm-ups serve two important functions. They enhance performance and prevent injuries. As such, an effective warm-up has both physical and mental benefits.

Warming Up the Blood

According to Gale Bernhardt, a former Olympic Triathlon coach, the 10 or 15 minutes period before the actual workout begins is critical to getting the optimal benefit of the activity. She notes, “Relaxed, sitting in your chair and reading this column produces a relatively low 15- to 20-percent of blood flow to your skeletal muscles. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) within those muscles are closed. After 10 to 12 minutes of total body exercise, blood flow to the skeletal muscles increases to some 70 to 75 percent and the capillaries open.

“Along with more blood flow, comes an increase in muscle temperature. This is good because the hemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature. More blood going to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, means better performance.

“An increase in temperature also contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation. Nerve transmission and muscle metabolism is increased, so the muscles work more efficiently.”

Injury Prevention

The most likely injury resulting from a CrossFit athlete failing to warm-up properly is a muscle strain or even a muscle tear. When the muscles are stretched during a warm-up, it is more difficult (taking considerably more force) for them to be injured. While muscle strains can be painful, there is also a more serious result in the failure to warm up properly.

In her article Bernhardt noted, “There have been human studies on sudden, high-intensity exercise and the effects on the heart. One particular study had 44 men (free of overt symptoms of coronary artery disease) run on a treadmill at high intensity for 10 to 15 seconds without any warm-up. Electrocardiogram (ECG) data showed that 70 percent of the subjects displayed abnormal ECG changes that were attributed to low blood supply to the heart muscle.

“To examine the benefit of a warm-up, 22 of the men with abnormal results did a jog-in-place at a moderate intensity for two minutes before getting on the treadmill for another test of high-intensity running. With that small two-minute warm-up, 10 of the men now showed normal ECG tracings and 10 showed improved tracings. Only two of the subjects still showed significant abnormalities.”

A Great Warm-Up

So, if you are running into the gym with 60s to go, its time you arrived early.

  • Spend 10min on the cardio machines at just above a walking pace to run blood through your system.
  • Use the mobility room (at Worthing) or space in the room to run through dynamic movements, inch worms, dead bugs, duck walks etc.
  • Use dynamic movements to asses any local tightens or stiffness — then treat appropriately.

As always, if you need advice from our coaching team we are here to assist in any way possible. Please also feel free to be in contact with our specialists in the clinic to have an areas of concern addressed and avoid potential injury.

Smart Performance