Fitness Fact or Fiction: Is a three minute warmup sufficient before a workout?

Freya Drohan is an Irish fashion and lifestyle writer based in New York. Here she asks an expert about the importance of warming up


In an age where everyone with a social media platform or a podcast is shelling out health advice, it’s more important than ever to seek information from a trusted source. In this weekly feature, a bona fide expert will help clarify and demystify some commonly accepted fitness and wellness beliefs.

Thanks to the rise of express lunchtime gym classes and YouTube HIIT workouts, people are exercising more time efficiently than ever. One thing that seems to be sacrificed when the clock is on? A warmup. “Warming up your body is absolutely crucial to get the most out of your workout, and unfortunately it’s often an area we overlook or skip because it doesn’t feel ‘important,’” agreed certified Pilates instructor Carolyn MacLachlan.

Here MacLachlan, a teacher at Form School and Pilates Performance offers her non-negotiables when it comes to priming yourself for exercise - no matter your ability or goal. In her knowledgeable opinion, five minutes is the minimum amount of time it takes for the body to be ready for any type of movement.

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“Typically a good warmup won’t focus on time, it’s more about feeling like your blood is starting to flow to every part of your body. Anywhere between five and ten minutes is usually sufficient, but we have to take into account what type of exercise you’re about to undertake. Pilates and yoga, for example, are low impact movement systems where a warmup doesn’t need to be too long, as the movements will be less extreme than something like gymnastics, which should take longer to get ready for.”

“Without a correct warmup, your muscles are more prone to injury as your tissue isn’t ready to function at maximum capacity, or ‘load’. The number one common injury I see are muscles ‘tearing’ due to being pushed too hard and too fast, meaning the tissue fibers have pulled apart from each other and can take weeks, or sometimes months, to heal.”

As a Pilates teacher, MacLachlan finds a warmup also mentally prepares her clients as it initiates the all-important mind-body connection.

“Once their blood is flowing and their muscle tissue is lengthened, they all perform better in the actual moves. By being a little more flexible they can also access deeper positions,” she said.

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Here are her favourite, generic stretches to utilise in a warmup.

  • Rolling down to touch toes.
  • Shoulder shrugs.
  • Neck circles and wrist circles.
  • Rotating, twisting body side-to-side.

For runners, she recommends dynamic movements like lifting the knees and hugging them into the chest, crescent kicks and light squats to get legs, glutes and hamstrings “fired up” and more pliable. To cool down, she advises static stretches, whereby you hold a stretch for 30 seconds.


To learn more about Pilates with MacLachlan, contact her here.

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