Warm-ups often feel useless — especially when compared with a rousing cardio session or circuit workout. But in fact, a focused, intelligent warm-up offers multiple benefits, including boosting core temperature, circulation, and metabolism; improving spatial awareness and alignment; firing up dormant muscles — and focusing your mind.
If you make a living at a desk, warming up is especially critical. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause key ligaments in your spine to overstretch, leaving you stuck in a closed-off, or flexed position.
“Lots of people come into the gym looking like a giant ball of flexion,” says Tony Gentilcore, CSCS, owner of CORE Fitness in Brookline, Mass.
Working out in this condition is like driving with the brakes on, he explains. A good warm-up will open up the front of the body and rouse your back muscles; this helps restore proper alignment so you can lift, run, and play with greater power, efficiency, and fluidity.
Learn to do a warm-up well and, after just a few sessions, you’ll feel a major difference.
“Once people get the hang of warming up correctly,” says Gentilcore, “most of them feel so good they never go back to skipping their warm-ups again.”