If you enter the gym and go straight to the weights, you might be making a mistake that will cost you your health. All those people around you doing jumping jacks and stretching for half an hour know exactly what they’re doing – they’re warming up their muscles and joints to avoid injury.
Here’s what the research says about warming up before a workout.
Warming Up for Injury Prevention
Several studies have explored the importance of stretching and warming up before a workout. A study by the University of Alabama found that certain techniques of stretching can help prevent injury. The scientists further suggest that we should stretch within 15 minutes before an activity to get the most benefits.
Another study confirmed that techniques based on stretching, balance exercises, and strengthening before a workout can help prevent lower limb injuries.
The RAMP Protocol
If you want to try warming up before a workout, following the RAMP protocol may be a good idea. “RAMP” stands for Raise, Activate and Mobilize, and Potentiate (or Performance).
- Raise – a good warm-up should raise your heart rate, body temperature, blood flow, and respiration rate. This is achieved with sprint exercises like A-skips, B-skips, and bicycles.
- Activate and Mobilize – the goal of this phase is to activate key muscle groups and mobilize joints. You do this with mini-band routines, lunges and squats, and spinal mobility exercises, among others.
- Potentiate – this phase is focused on preparing the muscles you’re about to use in the same fashion you’re about to work them. So, for example, if you’re about to work your chest, during this phase you could do some light cable flys.
Not only does warming up before a workout prevents injury, but it could also improve performance. Take between 15 and 30 minutes before every workout to warm up your muscles and joints properly and consider this one of your priorities in the gym.