The term “warm-up” is never as appropriate as when its absolutely freezing cold, miserable weather and you feel like your bones are going to break with every step you take. I hate the winter and I hate the cold, but the only thing that allows me to deal with it is that I have a great pre-workout warm-up routine. I should say, I have a whole bunch of different warm-up programs that I use, and they come in quite handy when it’s cold.
Did I say I hate the cold?
On the days when you feel cold you should take extra time to warm-up. It’s as simple as that. The problem for many people is that they don’t have an appropriate warm-up, or any warm-up for that matter. I have seen it countless times; people rush in to the gym in the dead of winter, jump on the treadmill and start running, not even jogging, but full out running. This is a bad thing. Here are some other bad ways to start your workout; crunches, biceps or triceps exercises, leg presses, bench presses. Even when the weather is warm it is bad form to not take some time to get loose and warm before you start your workout.
A proper warm-up consists of so much more than just walking on the treadmill for 5-minutes and running through a handful of static stretches. A lot of people don’t like to warm-up (as in my previous example) because it’s A) boring and B) they don’t really know how to. A good, progressive warm-up routine prepares you both physically and mentally for the workout. I think the key word here is “progressive.”
“Progressive,” means proceeding step by step, moving from one member of a series to the next. When warming up the progression should move from easy to difficult so that it blends into your workout. With my client training sessions the warm-up/preparation period has evolved from a very simple series of exercises to a much more complex program of complex movements, both in the individual workout and in the overall concept. For someone who has never trained in this manner, this kind of warm up would be THE workout. Over time my clients’ warm up has served to increase their fitness level, and their increased fitness level has served to improve their warm-up.
So it’s okay to walk on the treadmill for 5-minutes if you transition to something a bit more challenging, such as jumping jacks, squat thrusts and other calisthenics. This will increase heart rate, literally warm up the body and prep it for the workout. Total body movements should the feature of the warm-up, which is one of the reason calisthenics are a great way to start your workout day. Calisthenics are progressive, in that you can start with a simple move like the jumping jacks and move to squat thrusts and their varieties, leg drives, grass hoppers, to name a few.
Jumping rope is another great exercise to include in your warm-up routine. If you aren’t great at jumping rope take it slow and give yourself 5-minutes to work at it. What starts as slow and, at times, frustrating work, slowly but surely turns into an efficient and effective way to warm-up and improve your fitness level.
The warm up is part of the workout, not something separate from it. So don’t neglect the warm-up and your workouts and your fitness level will improve.