Updated: Feb 21, 2019
Investing in gym membership is one important step in moving towards a fit and healthy lifestyle. However, once you walk onto the gym floor you may find yourself feeling a little confused or even lost by what greets you. The machines, the activity, the sound and energy of a busy gym, all can disorientate and confuse.
So, where to start?
The first logical step for anyone training in the gym, whether a new or an established member, should be to warm up their body. The point of warming up is to wake up your body - and don t expect to have a great workout if you are sleepy!. Warming up before working out should also be undertaken to put you in the right mental state to perform your exercises.
If you have a previous bad experience when running, or similar, try to work around such a problem by warming up your knees. You should also apply this principle knowing what your own physical capabilities and past injuries are. After all, only you know your body and where it is stronger and weaker.
Also, please bear in mind that your knees, particularly, are easy to damage. So it is crucial to not start your fitness process by injuring your knees! If you do, you will create problems for yourself moving forward.
In my opinion effective warm up exercises involve a strong core cardio’ element, such as running, rowing or cycling.
For example, if you choose to run to warm up, try to target this warm up exercise, if not through distance, then certainly in terms of time (8 - 10 minutes should be enough).
With regard to distance, 1 - 2 km should do the trick as well as a target, and don’t forget to add a 1 degree incline on the treadmill when running (otherwise you will find yourself running slightly downhill!).
Walking fast on a 4 degree incline can also work as well as a warm up, if you find that you cannot run for some reason (i.e. because of a recurring injury).
If you do choose to walk rather than run you should ideally only do so if running is absolutely not a realistic option for you (if you are recovering from a back injury, for example).
Other options you might find useful as part of a gym warm up routine include the use of the rowing machine, or the bike. If you choose either of these options, again target a distance or a timeline and then stick to it!
The above exercises can be used to warm up effectively before any gym routine and I recommend them all.
Once your body has warmed up, you will find yourself to be fully awake and much more focused for weight resistance exercises than you would be without a solid warm up routine (if weight resistance exercises are going to feature in your gym routine, of course).
You should also bear in mind that training your body on at least a weekly basis is essential if you want to avoid injury and to move forward to a fitter body and lifestyle. The rewards in doing so are multiple (psychological, physical, in confidence raising, in decreasing your risk of cardio vascular disease).
Warm up, exercise, get healthy, feel better. It's all good.