The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
Most of the bodybuilders are tempted to start with weight training the moment they hit the gym. They work tirelessly for hours and find themselves going nowhere from where they started. They ignore the warm-up routine thinking that it might be a waste of time in accelerating towards faster results.
In reality, if your focus is on muscle mass building or shaping, you should be spending the first 30% of your time at gym warming up for an effective result, followed by 50% of the time on muscle training (weights, resistance training, etc) and the last 20% of time cooling down. Yes, you heard it right! ‘Cooling down’.
Let us examine why warming up is so critical and important.
Reason 1: Preventing injury
Warming up prevents the risk of being injured. This is the single most important factor for warming up. Warming-up increases the body temperature which leads to increased blood saturation of muscles and connective tissues. Hence, the more blood reaching the muscles, tendons and ligaments, the better the elasticity of these tissues. Also warming up prepares the muscles for impending workload. Warming up may reduce the likelihood of excessive muscle soreness.
Reason 2: Increasing Flexibility
Warming up increases the ease of movement by decreasing muscle viscosity and flexibility at individual body part level. Training the muscles through an identical range of motion, from lifts to stretches would prevent any muscle strain.
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.
Reason 3: Delivers Nutrients & Oxygen to the right muscle groups
Increased blood flow to exercising muscles, eases the delivery of nutrients required for energy production. Also warm-ups increases degradation of oxy-hemoglobin. This means, warm-ups helps to break down the chemical complex of oxygen, which enables it to separate from the blood and enhance its delivery to the muscle.
Increased blood flow, increases 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.
Your body increases its production of various hormones responsible for regulating energy production. During warm-up this balance of hormones makes more carbohydrates and fatty acids available for energy production.
Reason 4: Boosts heart health
Prepares the cardiovascular system for impending workload. Helps the heart and blood vessels adjust to the body’s increased demands for blood and oxygen. Increase blood flow to the heart. More blood to the heart means a reduced risk for exercise-induced cardiac abnormalities. The blood vessels dilates reducing the resistance to blood flow and lowering the stress on the heart.
Reason 5: Improves focusing & Self-motivation
Enhances the speed of transmission of nerve impulses. Motor skills improve greatly when you’re warmed up. Warm-up exercises are also important as a form of mental preparation. Your mind can ease into the workout. Your body experiences a great deal of stress during activities like weight training, so an adequate warm up and mental preparation increase your chances of enduring and benefiting from the hardest part of your exercise regimen.
Warm-up is also a good time to mentally prepare for an event by clearing the mind, increasing focus, reviewing skills and strategy. Positive imagery can also relax the athlete and build concentration.
Reason 6: Promotes fluid movement & De-toxification
By activating the heat-dissipation mechanisms in the body (efficient sweating) an athlete can cool efficiently and help prevent overheating early in the event or race. Sweating reduces the amount of heat stored in the body. Your body spends more energy cooling itself than through any other activity. Your body water intake automatically increases. You feel more thirsty and makes you drink more water which detoxifies your body.