How to correctly perform warm-up

Before starting a warm-up session

Important premises:

  • We always have to consult a doctor before practicing any kind of physical activity
  • In this context, we do not want to go too far into details but be as practical as possible
  • After the practice of warm-up it is important to do some stretching exercises before the most intense part of training (read Basic soft stretching)

We have to pay particular attention especially if:

  • We are over 30-35 years old
  • We have suffered injuries or suffer from specific physiological problems
  • We usually suffer from cramps
  • We are naturally not too much flexibles
  • Very easily we get hurt (inflammation, dislocations, etc.)
  • It is a long time that we are not practicing a constant physical activity

What is the warm-up for?

Warm-up, like stretching (read How to correctly perform stretching), is a fundamental phase of any martial arts training:

  • It lowers the energy threshold at which metabolic reactions occur
  • It increases the inflow of oxygen to our muscles (they become more pliable and contractile)
  • It increases the mechanical efficiency of our body (mobilize and lubricate our joints)
  • Increases the transmission speed of nerve impulses from the brain
  • It reduces the viscosity of the blood and synovial fluid in the joints
  • It drastically reduces injuries to connective tissue, tendons and muscles
  • Improves the effectiveness of the cardio-respiratory system in relation to the “explosive efforts”
  • Last but not list, psychologically, the effort it offers us serves as a separator and liberation from the thoughts of everyday life

In general, the warm-up wakes up our body from the psychophysical torpor typical of modern life (immobility during work, slow awakening, stress, etc.).

How to properly perform the warm-up

To perform a proper warm-up, we must follow some important rules:

  • Heat – As the word implies, one of the primary objectives of the warm-up is to increase the internal body temperature (generally speaking of 38-39°) and to reach the ideal condition for a peak performance
  • Low intensity – The warm-up must consist of exercises (proportionally to the level of the practitioner) of low intensity; this prevents the early raising of the lactate
  • No exaggerations – Under no circumstances should the warm-up be able to affect our ability to practice subsequent workouts (a disproportionate practice may even give rise to damages of various kinds)
  • No risks – Warm-up must be simple; it’s absolutely wrong to practice dangerous (eg. weapon training) or acrobatic exercises (eg. kip-up); before starting not only our body has to be awakened but also our spatial intelligence (read The most important skill in combat)
  • Never reach the end of elongation – Under no circumstances should the warm-up bring our muscles, tendons (etc.) to the maximum extension or resort to the use of explosive force; ignoring this rule grow dramatically the risk of injuries
  • It can not be avoided – As we have seen, the warm-up does not only heat the body and, therefore, it must be performed beyond the external / collateral factors (in a sultry summer day we may think to be already naturally warmed up but this is not sufficient)
  • No shortcuts or passive tools – There is no passive equipment (electrostimulation, irradiation, etc.) that can properly replace a real and effective active warm-up
  • Sweating is not an indicator – Another important thing to stress is that sweat is not a reliable indicator of a completed or useless warm-up (a lot of people sweat even when they stand still, this is a little advantage but their body is not completely prepared)
  • Precision – Although the warm-up (unlike stretching that is more sectoral) more easily incorporates multiple body elements, it is essential to concentrate our work on what we are going to use more directly / intensely

When to perform warm-up exercises?

Warm-up exercises (read Basic warm-up or 5 jumping exercises ideal for beginners / warm-up) must be performed:

  • Before performing any type of physical activity and before even the lighter stretching session (especially if we have exceeded 30-35 years); an alternative for situations of reduced time is the dynamic stretching that combines phases of slight stretching to a light-medium warm-up (we will talk about this later)
  • Possibly within a morning training (read Tips on how to stretch our training times), in such a way that, together with stretching, we guarantee to be able to face any eventual critical issues related to personal defense with “minor” risks (it is well known that in 90% of cases, in this kind of situations, the time of preparation of the body for combat is almost null)
  • For about 10-20 minutes; the duration should be adjusted in relation to the intensity level of the following activities, the age of the practitioner and his athletic condition; longer and less intense stretching and warm-up are advisable for over 30-35 years practitioners

In the next article of this series, we will see some simple but effective exercises useful for raising the internal temperature.

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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