Why is a warm up important and what should it include?
There isn’t much scientific research on a warm up for a workout. But it does not mean it is not important. More studies need to be done. Here is what we know and what works for most people.
Warming up will increase circulation and warm up your core temperature. This allows muscles, ligaments, tendon, and joints to move more easily. I know some physical therapists that like to say “Motion is Lotion” it keeps everything moving well and feeling good. Warming up also increases your breath which increases how much oxygen your body is getting. So often we sit with poor posture and breath shallowly and then wonder why we feel so tiered. You are also preparing your body to move in the patterns of your workout that follows the warm up.
When you warm up it should be specific to the movements your planing to do. If you are warming up for ballet or weight lifting or swimming each warmup should look different. Because it is a different way of using your body. Ballet works in turn out, weight lifting loads the body down, and swimming is high in resistance and shoulder moments. So, the corresponding work out should match.
Many people use a cardio machine to warm up. You do feel warmer and it is better than no warmup but there are smarter ways to warm up.
Mobility can be built into your warm up to help with your squat depth, opening your diaphragm, stabilizing your joints, increasing your rang of motion and strength.
The video below gives you a short and fast example of what an upper body warm up and mobility could look like.
I have linked some resources on warm up if your are curious about the research look at the references in the Warm Up I and Warm Up II links.