There’s a school of thought out there that says warming up isn’t necessary. That if you have minimal muscle imbalances, that if you’re mentally prepared for physical activity at all times, that you should be able to hop right into your workout full bore, right out of the gate. That when our ancestors had to run for their lives or run to catch an animal or lift a giant bolder or whatever, that they didn’t get a chance to warm up. And that even in real life today, there are situations where one may need to lift a heavy object, run fast, etc. without the luxury of getting physically or mentally prepared first.
And so while I do suppose there is some validity in this line of thinking, I mostly disagree with it Maybe if you’re in law enforcement, training for combat, etc. and your life depends on being able to perform at a high level without a warm up … in that case I can totally see why you would want to train this way …
But I can also tell you from personal experience – I feel WAY better when I go through a sequence of exercises/movements to methodically and specifically prepare me for the workout ahead. And honestly, for those of you simply looking for general fitness, and without specific performance needs like the ones listed above – why WOULDN’T you warm up?
Warm Up – Definition and Benefits
To start, here is the definition of a warm up from SparkPeople.com, along with some specific benefits:
A warm up is the act of preparing for an athletic event or workout by exercising or practicing for a short time beforehand. Warming up helps reduce your risk of injury and the aches and pains that come with exercise. The physiological reason to warm up is to assist your circulatory system in pumping oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles. The idea is to increase circulation throughout the body in a gradual manner. A proper warm up safely prepares the body for the increased demands of exercise. Cold muscles do not absorb shock or impact as well, and are more susceptible to injury.
A warm-up helps you prepare both mentally and physically for exercise and reduces the chance of injury. During a warm up, any injury or illness you have can often be recognized, and further injury prevented. Other benefits of a proper warm up include:
- Increased movement of blood through your tissues, making the muscles more pliable.
- Increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This prevents you from getting out of breath early or too easily.
- Prepares your muscles for stretching
- Prepares your heart for an increase in activity, preventing a rapid increase in blood pressure
- Prepares you mentally for the upcoming exercise
- Primes your nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for exercise
- Improved coordination and reaction times
The Kettlebell Warm Up
Here is the sequence I use to prepare for myself and training clients for kettlebell workouts; it is both field-tested and backed by research and science as one of – if the best – way to warm up and prepare yourself for physical activity:
1. Self Myofasical Release
Deep tissue massage therapy modalities such as myofascial release improves flexibility, function, and performance; speeds up the recovery process; and reduces chronic pain and injury risk. Regular deep tissue massage breaks down adhesions and scar tissue that form in the fascia. With the use of a few simple, inexpensive tools (foam roller and a soft ball), you can perform daily self-myofascial release (SMR) and receive much of the same benefits as weekly professional bodywork. And it’s fantastic to do before a workout; click the link below to check out a full article about it:
=== >> Self Myofasical Release
2. Joint Mobility
Joint mobility training is important for several reasons:
- It improves performance by helping you learn how to properly engage each joint and muscle group in your movements.
- It increases the efficiency of your movement.
- It drastically decreases the chance of injury by elimiating incorrect movements along incorrect joints.
Here are more details about joint mobility training and a quick video on how to do it:
=== >> Joint Mobility
3. Dynamic Stretch
A ‘dynamic warm-up’ or ‘movement prep session’ is the last element in my warm up sequence; click the link below to learn how to do it:
=== >> Dynamic Warm Up How-To
In conclusion, while there are some folks out there that think warming up for your kettlebell workout isn’t necessary, unless you have specific training needs like the ones outlined in this article, I disagree with this line of thinking. There are many proven benefits of warming up, and honestly, if you can, why not?
The warm up sequence detailed in this article is perfect to get you ready for your next kettlebell session. Incorporate it into your existing kettlebell routine and see increased results today!
Forest Vance, RKC II
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