We all know we should do it, but many of us don't know how to warm up properly before training or running. We give you a run-down of how to warm up properly to avoid injury.
What happens to your body when you warm up?
Before you exercise, your muscles will be somewhat cold (dependant on outside temperature) and usually quite stiff (especially if you rarely stretch). Additionally, your heart rate will be at resting rate which is much lower than working rate and your breathing rate will be low. When you exercise, your muscles need to be warm and limber and your heart rate and breathing rate will increase.
When you warm up, you are easing your body into a working state. You will be warming up your muscles, increasing blood circulation, increasing heart rate, and increasing your body temperature. All of this will improve circulation to your muscles so that they can perform better while you are exercising and will reduce the likelihood of injury. Not only this, a warm up can prepare you mentally for the workout or race ahead and help you get into the right frame of mind.
How long do you need to warm up?
How long you need to warm up depends on what type of race, game, or workout you are about to do. If you are going to do a short run such as a 5k, you will only need to warm up for a few minutes. If you are going to do a big workout at the gym, lifting weights or doing HIIT, you may need to warm up for a little longer, up to 5 minutes.
If you are about to play a team sports game such as football or rugby, you will require a longer warm up, and this will usually involve drills as well as team work to prepare you for the game or match. A big event like a triathlon or Ironman will also require a much longer warm up and you may spend up to 20 minutes warming up in anticipation of an event like this.
What happens if you don't warm up?
Missing or skipping a warm up can be quite costly and you could get injured. Especially if you are going to be lifting heavy weights in your workout, you could pull a muscle or end up with a tear. Not only this, by not preparing your body for a workout, it won't be ready to cope with the added stress and therefore you may not perform as well.
Warming up is not the only important thing: you must cool down properly after exercise, too. You will often see people whizz off the end of a treadmill after a tough workout and just walk straight out of the gym. This is a bad idea: when you exercise, your heart is pumping extra hard and pushing more blood around your body. If you don't cool down properly, you will end up with 'blood pooling' which, while not as bad as it sounds, can lead to cramping and injury.
What are good warm up exercises?
It's never a good idea to do static stretches before a workout as this could tear your muscles. Additionally, it's not recommended to do static stretches after a workout either as your muscles have just torn and stretched during the workout, so you don't want to exacerbate this effect by stretching them further.
Instead, it's best to do dynamic stretches and drills as a warm up. The best warm up exercises include things like windmills, where you swing your arms round in circles, leg swings, high knees, fast feet, and kick backs.
If you want to make progress with your fitness or weight loss, you need to have a goal. Otherwise, how will you measure your progress and know that you've succeeded? We take a look at how to set fitness goals and importantly, how to achieve them.
What is a SMART goal for fitness?
The most common and successful way to set a goal for fitness (or for anything for that matter) is to create a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and with a Time frame. By creating a SMART goal, you will avoid making unrealistic and unspecific goals which may not be achievable, and will help you to create an excellent goal that will get you where you want to be. By creating a SMART goal you are almost guaranteeing yourself success and you will be able to better assess your progress as you go.
What is an example of a long term fitness goal?
There are two types of goal: long term and short term. A short term goal is one which you aim to achieve in a relatively short space of time, perhaps within 3 months. A long term fitness goal is one which you will continue to tweak and work on progressively for an extended period of time, such as 1-3 years.
An example of a long term fitness goal would be to go from being overweight to completing a marathon in 3 years. You would need lots of short term goals in between, such as completing a couch to 5k programme, successfully completing a 10k, a half marathon, losing an amount of weight, eating better etc. By creating short term goals, you break down the long term goal and make it far more manageable. This will aid your chances of success and keep you focused and motivated the entire time.
SMART goals for weight loss examples
Having the goal to 'lose weight' is far too broad and you are very unlikely to succeed in it. There is no time frame so you won't know when you've achieved it, and there is no measurement so it could go on indefinitely as your weight fluctuates up and down. An example of a SMART goal for weight loss would be:
"I will lose 10kg in 6 months by running 3 times a week and going to the gym twice a week. Once I have achieved this goal, I will treat myself to a new set of activewear in a smaller size."
This is an example of a SMART goal as it is very specific, it is measurable because you can weigh yourself each month to make sure you're on track, it is achievable as that is a healthy amount of weight to lose in that time, it is realistic, and it has a time frame of 6 months. It even includes a reward at the end for extra motivation.
Examples of SMART goals for strength training
Another example of a bad goal is to say 'I want to tone up'. This is extremely vague and ambiguous and you are unlikely to ever achieve it. An example of a SMART goal for strength training would be:
"I will increase my squat weight from 30kg to 50kg in 3 months by following a strength training programme and lifting 4 times a week."
This SMART goal is specific as it includes specific weights, it is measurable as you can measure the weights you use and keep track by writing down your progress each week, it is achievable, it is realistic as that is not a crazy amount of weight to increase by in the time, and it has a time frame of 3 months. You will know for sure if and when you have achieved your goal and can therefore be proud of yourself once you have accomplished it.
How can I achieve my fitness goals?
Staying motivated can be tough, especially for those who have made a fitness goal as a new year resolution. One of the most important things when trying to achieve a fitness goal is consistency. If you start going for a run every morning but then can't maintain it and stop after 2 weeks, you will never achieve your goal. You need to start gradually and make fitness a part of your every day lifestyle. By adding an exercise regime into your daily routine, you will be able to stay consistent and have a better chance of succeeding. Sometime it just takes sheer willpower and determination, so remember why you started and have an end goal and incentive in mind. Perhaps it's buying yourself new fitness clothing or taking yourself on a spa day, whatever it is, it could help you to stay on track and stay focused.
It took me over two years to be able to run a 10k with no problems from shin splints. When I was trying to get to the bottom of the issue I read every website, visited several physiotherapists, and went to no less than 3 running coaches for video analysis. But what fixed the problem was working with my body and listening to what it was telling me.
My fitness through cycling is good, and it is disproportionately balanced with my running capabilities. Fitness-wise, I could run a lot further and a lot faster than my legs will actually allow me. To this day I feel like I could run quicker but always hold something back. Most of the reading I did said to only add 10% extra distance or speed a week, to build up slowly, and to take it easy. And I think this really is the best advice. Along with changing running techniques.
Top Tips For Preventing Shin Splints
Running in appropriate shoes.
As I was running neutral style I went through several types of trainers trying to find ones that offered appropriate protection. Barefoot shoes, as much as I love them, are not right for me.
This is probably the single best change to my running training; running up and down countless flights of stairs. It doesn't load my shins at all and means I can really work on my core fitness and build my leg muscles whilst letting my shins rest. I can't recommend step training enough.
Where I couldn't run I tried to work on the muscles that supported running like the calf muscles.
I have been working on this for several years and I know if I push it too hard I will be back to square one. This year I completed two half marathons and although my shins did hurt afterwards, it was only for a few days.
Good luck and post below if you have any other tips.
Taking care of your sportswear is very important, especially if it has special active technology and was expensive to buy. Follow this guide so that you never ruin another pair of cycling shorts again!
Get A Mesh Laundry Bag
Especially when it comes to pro bib shorts, parts getting caught in the machine is definitely something you want to avoid. Putting your cycling gear in a mesh laundry bag will mean it won't get caught on the spindle, and it also means that the zip on your jersey won't cause any damage either. Always wash your cycling gear separately from your other laundry. If you don't have the time or means to get a mesh laundry bag, a pillow case does the job too.
Make sure you wash your Lycra gear on a cool setting of 30 degrees or below. Most machines will have a button where you can change the temperature. Also make sure the spin cycle isn't too aggressive and that it doesn't go on for too long. An extra rinse can help to make sure the material stays fresh, and an extra spin at the end will speed up the drying process. I recommend a temperature of 30 degrees, spin cycle of 1000, and duration of 30-40 minutes.
Never put your Lycra cycling gear in a dryer! Hang it up and let nature take its course. It shouldn't take too long to dry, and this will ensure it stays premium quality for as long as possible.
So you’ve got your rope, now what? You used to skip as a child so how hard can it be? It may be surprising but there is far more to skipping than initially meets the eye. When I started skipping as an adult I was surprised at how different it was to what I remembered from being a child. So let’s learn how to skip in the best way possible!
Is Skipping A Good Form Of Exercise?
Skipping is a fantastic workout and can burn up to 10 calories per minute if done at a high intensity! In order to get skilled at jumping rope, it's important to practice and to break it down into sections.
Let’s start with the jumping. When most people start skipping for the first time they jump too high, just going for it and doing what feels natural without any knowledge on proper technique. But skipping too high is not efficient for a workout and will leave you unable to skip for longer than a few seconds.
When skipping, the key is to not actually jump. Wait, what? That’s right! If you change your mindset about what your feet are doing, it becomes a lot easier. Instead of jumping, think about doing a calf raise. Practice doing it without the rope to start: raise your heels so that you are on the balls of your feet, and then lower yourself back down using your calf muscles. You’ll soon realise there’s a reason why boxers have such defined calves! You may need to increase the strength and stamina in these muscles before skipping feels easy. Take your time and enjoy the process.
Once you’ve practised a few times without the rope, try applying this technique with the rope. You should only come a few centimetres off the floor on each bounce. Keep your ankles loose and feel the balls of your feet flex. See if you can keep it up for 30 seconds without stopping.
After your feet, what you do with your arms is the most important part of skipping. Hold the handles near the rope-end as this is the most efficient and will allow the rope to swing better. Keep your wrists loose, and your elbows close to your hips. It is a very subtle movement; you do not want to be swinging your whole arm, just a slight movement of the wrist. It will be tempting to tense your arms and lock them by your sides, so try to relax from the shoulder.
This moves us onto your posture. Make sure you are standing tall, with your shoulders pulled back and down, and your core and glutes tight. The key to skipping is to relax! If you are skipping for the first time in a gym or a public place, it may be a little daunting, and you may worry about tripping in front of everyone. Let go and have fun and try not to take it too seriously, at least while you are starting out. The looser and more relaxed you are, the less likely you are to trip over and you are less likely to incur an injury.
Is Skipping A Good Cardio Workout?
Skipping is a surprisingly demanding cardio workout! If you are skipping for the first time as an adult, you will be shocked by how out of breath you get on your first try! Don’t let this deter you, take your time. If you are new to fitness altogether, then you may wish to just skip in 20-30 second bursts. If you are a seasoned gym-goer, then skipping for intervals of 60 seconds may be more for you. Try our skipping workout plan and see what works for you! Or create your own jump rope routine. Supplement your skipping with leg exercises and mobility drills so that you do not get injured, especially if you are not used to exercising. Skipping has the fantastic benefit of being great for weight loss and by adding skipping into your existing gym routine you can expect to burn up to 10 calories a minute.
Where To Jump Rope
Where you choose to do your skipping is important too. If you are skipping outdoors, try to avoid jumping on concrete as this can be harsh on the joints. Skipping on softer tarmac or grass will be better. If you are indoors, avoid carpet as this can make the rope more likely to bounce which can cause you to twist your ankle. Hardwood floors are the perfect surface on which to jump rope.
How Long Should You Jump Rope For A Beginner?
When I first got back into skipping as an adult, I was really put-off by the fact that I couldn’t do it well. I saw lots of people in the gym skipping with ease and doing neat tricks so it deflated me somewhat that I was finding it so hard. But don’t let this be the case! After only a few sessions my technique improved hugely and skipping started to feel a lot more natural. Take your time, enjoy it, and maybe even let us know how you get on by leaving a review of the Sundried skipping rope on our website!
Beginner Skipping Workout
Skip for as long as you can, rest for 60 seconds, repeat for 5 minutes.
Skip for as long as you can, rest for 45 seconds, repeat for 7 minutes.
Skip for 20 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, repeat for 5 minutes.
Gym cross-training - leg, ab, and back exercises
Skip for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, repeat for 5 minutes
Skip for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, repeat for 10 minutes.