It’s a well-known fact that a “warm-up” prior to racing or even a training session, will improve your performance. We often see the pros going through their warm-up routines that to some, would seem like a pretty exhausting process.
They do this to ensure they get their best race or training performance possible on the day.
Why Warm up?
- A warm up routine will gradually increase the blood flow to the muscles and increase the bodies core temperature – this allows you to feel better from the start of the race or training session rather than half-way through it.
- A warm up will also lessen the “tightness” or even that possible sore muscle feeling. It’s important that to achieve your best performance, you need to feel “relaxed” and energetic from the start of the race-training session, rather than relying on the race-training session itself to assist that warm up process.
- A warm up will also lessen the risk of injury – muscles that are warmed up properly before being put under stress are less likely to break-down than muscles that are stressed when cold from the get-go.
- Muscles that are cold retain less heat and contract more. This will then force them to work harder from the start which is not in your best interest for a better overall race-training performance.
What are some of the benefits of a proper warm up?
- It increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This will help prevent you from getting out of breath too easily and too early.
- It improves your coordination and reaction times
- Gives a mental advantage for the upcoming exercise
- Prepares your heart muscle for a sudden increase in activity and also prevents a rapid increase in blood pressure levels
- Ensure the muscles are then ready to be stretched
How can I warm up properly?
The best approach is to include a 5-10 minute dynamic warm up routine that you will do prior to your event-training session.
What is a dynamic warm up routine?
- It’s a series of sports specific movements that are designed to warm up the muscles properly before embarking on the rigours of a race or general work-out
- The dynamic warm up routine will activate the exact muscles you will be using during the race and or work-out
Quick 5 minute dynamic warm up routine that you can easily do!
You will perform each dynamic exercise for a duration of between 20 and 30 seconds each. This can be performed around 10 – 15 minutes prior to the start.
- Jumping Jacks – this we all know from our early days – pretty straight forward and simple
- Walk Knee Hugs – a nice easy and simple way to get those hips organised and ready for action
- Arm Circles – forward and backward. This is an ideal exercise for the pre-swim. Making sure the shoulders are loose and moving freely will ensure a better swim performance. If you are wearing a wetsuit, it’s even more important that you perform a dynamic stretch exercise such as this – the wetsuit tends to restrict the free movement of the shoulders. Even more reason to swing those arms vigorously when that wetsuit has been zipped-up.
- Side Shuffles - a very common dynamic stretch movement. Warms up the lower body with the emphasis during on staying low
- Back-Pedalling – I know we often feel like we may be going backwards but this is the one time when you want to be going backwards
- Squats – done without weights – a quick up and down motion will suffice – those will dodgy knees might need to be a little more cautious with this one. Warms up the lower limbs with great effectiveness
- Lunges – this will work all the muscles in the lower body region
- Leg Swings - you might want to hold onto some form of support for balance when performing this exercise. Great option to warm up the hips and glutes
- Karaoke – no, not the singing one but the side to side leg-hip twist routine. The lesser co-ordinated person might struggle a little with this one at first. Start by performing it slowly and once you get the hang of it, increase the speed of the specific movements
- Over the Fence – this can be done going backward and then forward. Easy exercise to perform and is a great warm up exercise routine for the hips and mid-core section
When should I warm up? How long before my race or training session?
Most experts would agree that the warm up routine should not be performed more than 10 minutes before the start as there is then a risk of losing some of the benefits. We do know that at some events this may not be possible (warming-up 10 minutes prior). In those cases, you perform your warm up routine in advance and then hope the majority of benefits are then utilised when the race gun goes off. Either way, a proper warm up routine too far prior is way better than none at all.
Warm up Tips for your next Triathlon
- Don’t put the wetsuit on too early – rather perform the dynamic stretch routine in your warm up apparel first, after having racked the bike and set up your transition zone area. Put the wetsuit on after this.
- If you are required to enter the starting pens well in advance of your swim start, you can easily perform the arm swings, lunges, jumping jacks and squats for example – 10 minutes in advance of your anticipated start time. This will ensure that your heart rate has been elevated and that the body is warmed-up sufficiently to start swimming properly from the get-go.
- A light jog (3-5 minutes) in-between the bike racking and swim start may also be a good idea to get the blood flowing freely and to help settle some of the pre-race nerves
- A hot shower before you depart for the race venue can also do wonders for an effective warm up routine. A night’s sleep can result in some stiffening up of the muscle groups. Taking a hot shower whilst performing some basic stretch movements under the hot water will stand you in good stead before you arrive at the venue. It also makes sure you are then wide awake and not half asleep.
- Don’t stretch cold muscles – stretching should only be done after a light jog. A stretch movement will temporarily lengthen the muscle fibres and this is best done when there is increased blood flow to that specific muscle group
If you want to perform better at the next work out or race, no matter what level you are at, a decent warm up routine with some dynamic exercises will be sure to boost to your overall performance levels.
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