The warm-up, so often neglected, prepares the body to perform the exercises and significantly reduces the risk of injury. The main effects of warming are:
- enhancement of the body’s performance capacity
- enhancement of the capacity for psychic performance
- improved movement coordination
- reduced risk of injury
Warm-up means the activity preceding the training unit. There are three phases in the warm-up process:
- general heating
- individual heating
- special heating
The goals of warming-up are to improve blood circulation, raise body temperature and stimulate perspiration. As the body’s temperature rises, blood becomes more fluid and the tissues of the muscles become more flexible, thereby increasing the elasticity of the muscles and consequently reducing the risk of injury. On the other hand, by increasing blood circulation, a greater supply of oxygen and energy to the muscles that are working at that time is achieved, increasing the capacity of performance.
The general warm-up phase should last between 8 and 12 minutes and should be carried out with a small to medium load. In the gym, this phase can be done on a bike, step or treadmill. The general warm-up should also not be forgotten during outdoor training. For example, if you ride a bike or run, the first 10 minutes should be at a low intensity. If the intensity is maintained between low and medium during general warm-up, the heart rate is gradually increased for about 10 minutes due to the progressive increase in effort.
At the end of the warm-up phase, a 40-year-old’s pulse should be between 120 and 140 beats per minute (160-180 beats per minute, minus years of age). It is not advisable to extend the general warm-up phase beyond 12 minutes because symptoms of energy loss fatigue may occur and may limit subsequent performance.
Individual warm-up must be adjusted to the characteristics and preferences of each athlete and must take into account personal conditions and characteristics such as injuries, age, etc. For example, if you have contracted some muscles, in the individual warm-up phase you can start stretching and mobilizing the corresponding joints. It is clear that this can also be done in general, although there is no muscle limitation.
Special warm-up for strength training should prepare the muscles and joints with their cartilage for the intended load.
On the other hand, special warming also improves coordination between nerves and muscles. The easiest way to warm up a particular muscle in a special way is to practice the same exercise that will be done in the training, although with a considerably lower weight and with a greater number of repetitions. For example, if you are going to perform a series of 10 repetitions of the press exercise on a horizontal bench with 60 kg in training, the special warm-up can consist of a series of 20 repetitions with 30 kg, pause for about 90 seconds, continue with 15 more repetitions with 45 kg, pause again and then proceed to the series of 10 repetitions with 60 kg in training.
In fact, in addition to the three phases mentioned above, mental preparation should also be taken into account. The athlete concentrates on the training unit he is going to practice and goes from a situation of mental saturation, overwhelmed by the big and small daily problems, to another in which he forgets himself. During this preparation, elite athletes mentally develop the activity they are going to perform, that is, they “visualize” the movement and see themselves performing it. In competitions, you can see how high jumpers “see” with their imagination the full development of the jump, while with their body make slight insinuations of real movement. The best high jumpers affirm that if they are disturbed in this phase of concentration, the attempt invariably ends in failure. Good mental disposition is not only advisable for professional sportsmen and women, but also for amateurs, since, in addition to helping to improve performance, the risk of injury is significantly reduced.