The Benefits Of Warming Up In Calisthenics & Street Workout

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Posted On December 10, 2019

The warm up is a vital inclusion before undertaking any physical activity. This is especially pertinent in high stress sports such as calisthenics and street workout.

A gradual progression of physical intensity is recommended for a myriad of reasons:

Warming up can prevent wrist and shoulder injuries in calisthenics

 

Calisthenics is upper body dominant, and so the 2 most injury prone areas are unsurprisingly the wrists and shoulders. The wrists take a lot of downward pressure in handstands, planches and L-sits. 

Shoulders are the most mobile joint in the body, and by this virtue are also the most unstable. Calisthenics bar combos, swings and jolting landings back on the bar can, over time, do damage to the shoulders. 

To prevent wrist and shoulder injuries in calisthenics it’s important to warm up correctly. The following article will break down the benefits of warming up.  

Muscular:

 

The muscles themselves are lethargic after periods of inactivity. Muscles are comparable to rubber, in that their elasticity is dictated by temperature. Like cold rubber, cold muscles are prone to tearing. Calisthenics is packed full of high stress skills, and therefore necessitates a prolonged warm up.

Furthermore, inactivity can cause changes in soft tissue length length. This phenomenon is called ‘soft tissue creep’. It occurs when muscles and associated structures either become abnormally short (tight) or long (loose) due to prolonged inactivity. This is problematic because abnormal soft tissue lengths can put undue stress on tight soft tissue, while destabilising joints associated with loose soft tissue. This can become extremely dangerous in calisthenics and street workout as many skills require high muscular stability, especially in the wrists and rotator cuffs. Warming up can remedy this situation and return soft tissue to optimal lengths.

Oxygen, fuel and by-product balance:

 

Muscles also require nutrients and oxygen, and need to dispose of by-products such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen ions. By engaging in a warm up, these increased demands can be met more readily when completing more vigorous exercise.

Oxygen is unloaded more readily to working muscles at higher temperatures due to its temperature dependent solubility in blood. Fuels are more easily delivered to working muscles due to vasodilation – the dilation of small blood vessels called capillaries- in the proximity of working muscles. This also helps expel by-products that would otherwise interfere with muscular contraction.

Calisthenics and street workout are sports with high energy demands. Warming up increases the availability of fuels in the blood due to hormonal change. Adrenaline and cortisol are released at the outset of exercise, which act to dis-assemble large storage carbohydrates and fats into smaller ones that can travel in the blood to working muscles.

Neural:

 

Neural signals can also benefit from warming up. Neuromuscular activity needs to be primed before engaging in vigorous activity, especially in calisthenics and street workout where often very precise and timely muscular forces are required. Both inexperienced and elite calisthenics athletes need to remind their bodies of skill-specific patterns of movement – which should be completed in gradual nuance.

L sit calisthenics static exercise

Bone and cartilage:

 

Training can be fun. In fact, training should be fun. If it’s not fun, then you’re doing something very wrong. It’s unsurprising that many people that train alone are dissatisfied with their training. Often the grind is simply to push that extra plate or to run that extra mile – for many people these goals are not exactly exciting. Trainers can help make training fun and give diversity to your routine.

Synovial fluid

 

The generation of synovial fluid is another great reason to warm up. Synovial fluid is a biological lubricant that naturally surrounds our joints. Its main purpose is to prevent friction between cartilage, which can eventually cause joint deterioration. Warming up helps the production of this fluid and facilitates a safe, stress-free environment for joint function in calisthenics and street workout.

Cooling:

 

The body’s cooling mechanisms, primarily sweating and the associated evaporative cooling, need some time to become fully functional as well. The priming of these biological pathways prevents the body from over heating when completing vigorous physical activity.

 

References:

http://www.nsmi.org.uk/articles/injury-prevention/warming-up.html

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/warm-up-cool-down

https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/49/14/935

 

Written by Vic

Melbourne-based Personal Trainer, Calisthenics Athlete and the Founder of Street Workout St Kilda. Super passionate about bodyweight training and the art of movement.
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