Warm up stretches can help prevent injuries and improve your workouts by allowing your muscles to perform more efficiently. During warm up, blood flow is improved and your muscles can relax quicker during your strength training. You will allow your muscles and joints to move freely when they are warmed up, so your performance is improved too.
Do you do warm up stretches?
I’ve heard it a thousand times before, and hopefully you have too. Your muscles are like rubber bands. If you jump into a workout without warming up, your muscles are tight, and constricted. Just like a rubber band, doing too much, too quick, will cause it to snap and break.
My brother actually broke tendons in his foot one day at Taekwondo because he attempted a jumping high kick before working out! Now I’m VERY strict about makings sure everyone is warmed up before we start class.
But Not Static Stretches!
You may be inclined to do static stretches to warm up before you workout. Let me tell you why that is NOT a good idea. Studies have shown that static stretches, stretches like ‘touch your toes’ for 30 seconds, actually have negative affects on your performance. Static stretches make your muscles lose ‘elasticity’, making your muscles less stable. The static stretches also make your muscles lose strength, meaning you won’t be as fast or jump as high. Also, static stretches on cold muscles can result in injuries, add your static stretching at the end of your workouts, or after the cool down, while your muscles are still warm.
So What Kind of Stretches Should I do?
What you should be doing is dynamic stretches. Static stretches are when you hold a stretch for a length of time, and dynamic stretches involve movement. During dynamic stretches you are taking your body through a range of motions that will prepare you for your activity.
To start, do some light cardio moves, like jumping jacks or skipping in place, and then do your dynamic stretching moves. During dynamic stretching, you want to slowly loosen up your muscles. Dynamic stretches would include push ups, leg wings, lunge walks, arm circles, etc.
Other ways to warm up:
If you don’t want to do stretches, you should do something to get your heart rate going and improve blood flow to your muscles. Skip rope, do jumping jacks, take a brisk walk, jog in place. You should always have a warmup and cooldown during your workouts. They will add time to your workouts, sure, but the benefits definitely out weigh the extra 10 minutes.
If you need some workout ideas, try one of these:
- Arm Day Workout – 6 Simple Moves. All you need are weights and very little space to get toned arms.
- Leg Day Workout – 8 Simple Moves. All you need is a yoga mat to complete this routine.
- Simple Park Workout. Workout while your kids play at the park!
- Quick Strength Workout. Full body workout – no equipment needed!
- 12 Ways to Burn 100 Calories. The title says it all! 12 ways to burn 100 calories right now!
- Fat Blasting Strength Workout. Easy moves, lots of burning fat!