Static stretching—taking a muscle and joint toward its end range of motion and holding it in that position for a given amount of time. This can prevent injury, improve muscle length/tension balance, and gain flexibility in mobility-restricted areas of your body...but this type of mobility is best done after a workout when your body is already warm and loose.
That said, while our muscles and connective tissues are never exactly "cold," must of us don't walk around ready to move our bodies sufficiently for safe, intense exercise. To that end, dynamic warm-ups are key. Discover a few nifty benefits of dynamic stretching as well as some examples to try before your next workout.
You May Also Like: Tabata-What-A? How to Make a Kickbutt 4-Minute Workout!
3 Important Benefits of Dynamic Warm-Ups
1) They prepare your muscles and connective tissue for exercise.
Dynamic stretching increases localized circulation and prepares muscle fibers, tendons, joints, and ligaments for withstanding load and exertion—without having to strain them in a sustained end-range position.
2) They help you get into a fat burning state more efficiently.
By doing dynamic warm-ups, you start to elevate your heart rate before your workout officially begins. Because of this, it's safer for your heart and easier for your body to enter your desired target heart rate zone, so you're not "wasting" the first few minutes of your actual workout just trying to get your pulse elevated.
3) They help you maximize your intensity during your workout.
In addition to preparing your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular system for exertion, a dynamic warm-up primes your central nervous system, too. Your nervous system influences important things like proprioception, motor control, coordination, balance, and even explosive power, all of which are necessary for helping you perform lifts and exercises with intensity.
Warm-Up Like a Champ: Check Out Our Favorite Dynamic Warm-Ups
The trick with dynamic warm-ups is to select movements which mimic the moves and target the muscle groups you'll be using within your workout. Think easy, efficient, and continuous motion and avoid end-range holds.
Here are a few of our favorite dynamic warm-ups (try a quick YouTube search for videos if you need 'em):
- Arm circles
- Ts, Is, and Ys
- Leg Swings
- High Knees
- Butt kickers
- Easy pace on the rower, bike, or treadmill
- Animal movements: crab walk, bear crawl, duck walk