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Top 3 Benefits of Warming Up Before Exercise During Winter

February 05, 2021

The winter months can be brutal for those who workout outside, in the garage, or similar environment. Sometimes, the chill can be a huge turn off to getting your sweat on.

Even after starting a workout, it can feel dreadful to get through the programmed sets of exercises. What’s the solution? A better warm-up. 


A proper warm-up is exactly that- a form of exercise that warms the body up in preparation to improve or achieve the desired stimulus from a workout.

Many weightlifters will follow the Burgener Warm-up, a series of movements with a light bar that dissects the snatch or clean and jerk.

CrossFitters often follow the original CrossFit warmup, which consists of 3 rounds of 10 squats, 10 pushups and 10 pullups.
 

Runners will go through running drills specifically designed to improve their running technique. What do they all have in common?

They are specific to the sports involved and they warm up the body. There are three benefits to this type of warm up, regardless of the sport:

  1. Increases blood flow throughout the body

  2. Targets motor patterns of the muscles involved in the workout

  3. Body temperature increases, improve cellular metabolism

 

1. Increases blood flow throughout the body


At rest, about 20% of blood in the body is allocated to skeletal muscle. Another 20% is distributed to the kidney and yet another 20% to the abdomen.

This means the energy required to back squat 300lbs 30 times is focused in other parts of the body.

After warming up, the blood can be redirected to muscles taking more than 71% of blood flow. That’s more than 3.5x more blood! And remember, more blood means more energy and more recovery during your workout. 


2. Targets motor patterns of the muscles involved in the workout


What else can help with the added blood flow? Moving right. A good warm up consists of movement patterns that are similar to the workout.

This allows the brain to make tiny corrections before the big performance. A weightlifter prepping for a heavy snatch day ought to warm up with a bar with precise pulls, overhead squats, and snatch balances.

The brain will adapt and know these movements will be coming with more weight. Any mistakes can be rectified in the warm up before getting serious.

3. Body temperature increases, improve cellular metabolism


Along with better moving, performance will increase with a better warm up. Cell energy (ATP) has a better turnover rate and muscle fiber contraction when core body temperature is raised 3 degrees Celsius.

When energy is more available and muscles contract faster, maximal output increases.


A study done in 2005 found that the increased body temperature dramatically improved performance over individuals with a lower core temperature. A warmer body means it is more efficient in all tasks, and that includes your workout. 

Other than finding sport-specific movements to add to your warm up, here are some tips to improve your pre-exercise ritual:

  • Find a warm place to warm up. If a gym (or garage gym) is cold, warm up in the house before going out

  • Make sure your equipment is warm. This includes shoes, barbells, kettlebells, etc. Starting warm and staying warm is always easier than starting cold, getting warm, and staying warm.

  • Warm up with a friend or family member

  • Add some music

  • Write it out on a piece of paper or on a phone

If you are needing something more to get you through your workouts in your cold home gym, a better warmup may be a good place to start. Not only will an improved warmup increase blood flow throughout your body, but will help you increase your body temperature and improve your movement patterns.


Dr. Tyler Burton, PT
Zona Physical Therapy


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