How & Why Is Warming Up Important Before Exercising? – Follow These 4 Key Steps

The warm up…in my opinion one of the most important elements of training, but how many of us honestly spend time going through an effective warm up routine? And no, doing a bunch of press-ups before jumping straight into a set of heavy bench press doesn’t count! So why is warming up important before exercising?

A good warm up doesn’t have to be boring, it’ll reduce the risk of injury which you’ll benefit in the long run and who knows you may actually be able to lift a little heavier too! It’s something I’ve definitely learnt to incorporate and appreciate more with my own training, ensuring I spend at least 10-15 minutes preparing the body for the workout to come.

Below I’ve highlighted a few points, in my opinion, of how and why we should warm up:

R.A.M.P Up Your Warm Up!

R.A.M.P – Whether you’ve seen this before or it’s completely alien to you, I will break down how following the R.A.M.P warm up protocol will benefit any workout routine. It will ensure that you are ready to attack any workout knowing that the body is fully prepared for the exercises ahead. So let’s break down exactly what R.A.M.P is and how it works:

R – (Raise): It all starts with getting the body warm by raising the body’s core temperature and heart rate. This allows the body to prepare for the workout ahead by also increasing rate of breathing, blood flow to the working muscles as well as allowing the working joints to release synovial fluid (a natural substance released between joints to reduce friction).

A – (Activate): Once the body has begun to warm up, we must next look at activating the muscle groups that are going to be used within the workout. You can make this specific to just the muscles that are going to be used or you can target the main muscle groups within the body.

M – (Mobilize): Just as we do with activate, we must look to warm up and mobilize the key joints that are to be used within the workout. Again, you can make this specific to just the joints that are going to be used or look to target all the main joints within the body.

P – (Potentiate): The final phase of warming up and one that I see a lot of people skip. Potentiate is to perform specific movements related to your workout to potentially improve performance. For example, before performing a 1 rep max deadlift you would look to complete a few sets at a lighter weight whilst gradually increasing the weight, to allow the body to prepare and adapt. Rather this then jumping straight into the 1 rep max lift and running the risk of injury or poor performance.

Now that I’ve briefly explained what R.A.M.P is, lets look further into the benefits of each stage and understand why they are important to an effective warm up.

Turn Up The Heat!

As mentioned above, raising the body’s core temperature and heart rate is vital to an effective warm up as well as various of other benefits:

  • Increase In Body Temperature: Warming up, as the name suggests, will cause your body temperature to increase. This creates a knock on effect of an increased heart rate, increasing both blood flow and oxygen, which help prepare the body for exercise as well as perform more efficiently.
  • Increase In Muscle Temperature: Ensuring the required muscles are ready for exercise is crucial. Not only can a cold muscle affect your range of motion, cold muscles usually means cold joints too, but it can also increase the risk of injury when they are put under strenuous pressure. Imagine a cold elastic band. When you first try to stretch the band it doesn’t stretch very far and it’s also a little tough to pull. If you warm the band up however, you are able to stretch the elastic a lot further as well as it feeling a lot smoother to pull. The same principle applies for your muscles!
  • Increase In Blood Temperature: Just as muscles perform better when warm, blood becomes more efficient. This is due to the oxygen levels increasing within the blood as body temperature increases and more oxygen is taken on board. All of this enables the body to supply its muscles at a much faster rate with larger volumes of oxygenated blood, allowing them to perform at a greater level.

Activate & Mobilize

Activating the correct muscles as well as ensuring the joints needed for your workout have the necessary mobility kind of work hand in hand without really thinking about it. As you look to warm up your targeted muscle groups, you tend to warm up the joints needed at the same time. For example, lets say you were warming up for a leg session, you’d probably look to activate the glutes, hamstrings and quads. Whilst going through exercises to activate those muscles you’d simultaneously be mobilizing the hip and knee joints without any extra work…winner!

So what exactly are the benefits of ensuring the muscles and joints are nice and warm before a workout?

  • Joint Mobility: Improves flexibility which increases a joints range of motion, reduces the risk of injury, reduces the likelihood of joint pains, helps to produce synovial fluid which reduces friction between joints and greater longevity in a joints tendons, ligaments as well as cartilage tissue.
  • Muscle Activation: Increases strength output by firing up the muscles required, improves mind/muscle connection and coordination, improves flexibility, reduces the risk of injury, reduces the likelihood of muscle pains and greater longevity of a muscles connective tissue.

Potentiate

A simple way to ensure you don’t skip this step is to ideally select a main compound movement within your workout (e.g squat, deadlift, bench press or military press), and complete a few warm up sets whilst gradually increasing the weight. During this phase, you are also able to focus on technique, control throughout the movement as well as speed and explosiveness.

Effective potentiating in a warm up will ensure the nervous system is properly prepared as well as ensuring the recruitment of the necessary muscle fibers. However, remember you are just preparing for a lift or set of exercises so don’t over do it and fatigue yourself.

Remember To R.A.M.P

Hopefully I’ve made the importance of warming up a little clearer, and I encourage you all to put together a warm up routine you can complete before your workouts. If you follow the R.A.M.P protocol you can’t go wrong. Finally, a point worth thinking about…if the world’s most successful athletes warm up before every workout they complete, then they must be doing something right. In that case, I’m sure we can all find time to warm up!

 

 

 

 

11 comments

You are very right. Warm-ups are very important before you start your exercise. They help the blood to start circulating at the right speed, it limit your chances of you getting injury when you start the main exercise and lastly it wakens the muscles. 

I love doing all sorts of activities such as running, walking and hiking. I am going to start trying your suggested warm-ups steps. They seems easy and effective to complete. Thanks for this post.  

I’m glad you found it helpful!

I run about 4 to 5 miles every morning and I have to admit – I’m not as clued up with warming up as I should be. I tend to stretch a little and try and loosen my leg muscles – but I’m not 100% sure in what I’m doing. 

What simple warm up techniques or routines would you recommend to a daily runner?

I’d stick to doing a quick dynamic stretching routine before your run just to activate the muscles your going to be working. You want to concentrate on your quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors and calves. If you have any known injuries or niggles, you’ll want to spend more time focusing on activating those muscles too.

Very informative article. Like the abbreviation R.A.M.P. Simple way to remind ourselves that the warm up process is a step by step process and can not just jump in and go.

Get lay out and good writing.

Barney44

Thank you Barney!

Yes, you have made it much more clearer as to why warming up is important. And you make a good point that if professional athletes warm up so should we.  I walk around my neighborhood several times a week for a workout. I suppose it would be a good idea to warm up before I get started. Thanks for sharing this information.

Happy to have helped!

Ngonidzashe Manzwangani

Great info, I sometimes do warm up but at times I don’t, just realizing after reading your article that I am doing bad to my whole exercise. Another tip that I can say its a big takeaway from your article is the need to potentiate, thank you so much, I was totally unaware that I have to perform a warm up that is related to your workout. 

I will try to use R.A.M.P whenever I am doing workouts

. I have bookmarked your website for future reference

You’ll see an improved difference when completing a warm up which is relevant to your workout. Happy to have helped!

Hi! Thank you very much! I found this post very useful! I must confess that the acronym R.A.M.P was completely new to me. But it’s an excellent way to remember these excellent tips concerning warming up. I have bookmarked R.A.M.P. in my head.

And I totally agree with you. The importance of warming up properly is sometimes overlooked. I can bear witness to that.

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