With any form of exercise, a warm up before training is a must. A warm up before training ensures that you get the most out of your workouts and progress in the best way possible, as it reduces your risk of injury.
Circuit training involves working through a set of different exercises, with little or no rest in between. These exercises are usually chosen for their ability to improve muscular strength or size, endurance or aid in weight or fat loss.They can be created for various different fitness goals and can include bodyweight, weightlifting and cardiovascular exercises. Want help planning your own circuit style workout? Why not read our guide to circuit training, full of examples of exercises to include.
To help you out even more, we sat with our trainer to talk about the importance of a warm up before training. (Plus the importance of being well fuelled before a workout! Have a look at our 10 delicious, as well as nutritious, pre-workout snacks if you’re stuck for ideas!). And our trainers came up with loads of beneficial reasons to warm up. They told us why it should be done correctly and talked us through how to do just that. In this post, we cover these best ways to warm up before training, breaking a warm up down in to four easy to follow steps.
Four steps to follow to help you warm up before training
Step 1: Pulse raiser
The first stage of a warm up is the pulse raiser. The pulse raiser increases your heart rate and increases the blood flow around your body. It also increases your body temperature, allowing you to literally warm up before training. A pulse raiser can be something like jogging or marching on the spot, jumping jacks or skipping. The pulse raiser should start off at a low intensity and slowly progress to a higher intensity during a time period of roughly 3 – 5 minutes.
Step 2: Joint mobility
The second stage of a warm up is to mobilise your joints. This ensures that your joints are well lubricated with synovial fluid (the fluid found in the joints) and are ready for exercise. To mobilise your joints, take each one through a range of movements, slightly wider than they would normally be taken, for a set number of repetitions or time period. There are many different movements that can mobilise joints – for example, to mobilise the shoulder joint try shrugging the shoulders up and down or circling them round backwards and forwards. Similarly, to mobilise the hips and knees start by performing shallow squats and then progressing into full squats.
Step 3: Stretching
Throughout the day (and night) our muscles tend to shorten due to not being used – sitting at a desk or asleep in bed etc. Conducting a warm up before training and including stretches to lengthen these short muscles, allows you to perform each exercise with a full range of movement. Stretching muscles also reduces your risk of injury after exercise. In a warm up, the best type of stretching is dynamic stretching. Unlike static stretches (in which you hold a specific stretch for a count of around 10 seconds), dynamic stretches involve performing movements that simulate the exercises you will be performing in your workout afterwards. Examples of dynamic stretches include leg swings, lunges and squats.
Step 4: Exercise practice
The final stage of your warm up should be your practise of each exercise within your workout. In this time, you should perform each exercise slowly, making sure you have the correct form or technique before you perform multiple repetitions back to back. Once you have tried each of the exercises in your circuit and you know how to perform each one correctly and safely, you should be fully warmed up. And once you’re warmed up, you are good to go!