Why Warm-up in Calisthenics?
People often want to skip their warm-up. But that is never a good idea. A warming-up activates your cardiovascular system to prepare your body for activity. The muscles get warmer and more relaxed. Loosend up, they are able to do a better job. Without a proper warm-up you could easily lose out on your performance in an exercise. Evidence also shows a decreased risk of injury for those who warm up before exercise.
A warm-up usually consists of low activity. This can be walking, running or for example jumping jacks that stimulate your blood to flow and bring oxygen to every part that needs it. It is important that you activate the muscles you plan to use. This means that running is not enough, unless you will be training your legs.
Stretching in Connection to Your Warm-Up
Before we tell you more, we want to stress the importance of stretching. We are very much in favour of stretching. But timing is a key factor for the rest of your training. Stretching the muscles temporarily increases the mobility of your muscles, but also temporarily decreases your strength. If you do this right before you’re going to start with resistance training you will not be able to perform the same reps/weight/sets as usual. In addition, the neuro-movement cells in your body have specific patterns and will not be able to quickly adapt to the newly aquired mobility. This could have a negative impact on your form.
It is better to improve mobility as part of your cooling down or during a different part of the day. If you still want to stretch during your warm-up, make sure you to do a specific task exercise before you start your resistance training. For example, after stretching your chest do 5 minutes of push movements that require almost no strength (like push-up in the air). After some minutes the increased mobility reduces back to normal. This prevents injury as well.
This doesn’t apply to warming-up joint mobility exercises like moving up and down your wrist a couple of times. However, holding your wrists in their respective end position for some seconds will increase mobility and temporarily reduce form and strength.
A Proper Warm-Up in Calisthenics
A warm-up generally consists of low cardiovascular exercise, (static) stretching and one or two sport-specific tasks. Usually, it takes somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on your training schedule. In many (team) sports warming up is a common thing, but in calisthenics it is not. You can replace the stretching with some mobility exercises to just warm up the joints (not improving range of motion (ROM). For every body part we have a specific task to get some extra stimulation. You benefit most if you cycle or run to your nearest calisthenics park as part of your warm-up. After you finish your training, do the stretching to improve mobility.
Take Home Message
A warming-up is important to reduce the risk of injury, get your muscles fired up and perform better during your training. Stretching during your warm-up is not recommended since your strength decreases for a short period of time and the temporary increase in mobility can impact your body movement patterns and reduce form. General full ROM movements are recommend to loosen up your joints and muscles completely.