Warm-up to excel.
Whether you call it a warm-up or movement prep how you prepare for your training session is perhaps the most important part of your workout. It allows you to work-out as safe and productively as possible. Despite the vital importance of warming up, it remains an overlooked aspect of many people’s exercise protocol. Most simply put warming up or good movement prep enables your body to work optimally. It creates a physiological environment that enables you to do more work and your body to perform the movements you ask it to while reducing risk of injury. A good warmup is going to cause a laundry list of physiological changes that sets you up for an awesome workout.
Your warmup should follow a general to specific and easy to hard progressions. A warmup template I like to use is as follows. Rollout, breathe, correct, mobilize, activate, and practice. Spend a few minutes rolling out with a foam roller with more time spent on the body parts being used most for the particular session, i.e. legs when squatting or pecs when benching. I like going through a whole body rollout routine which just helps focus me and get ready for my workout. I perform breathing exercises next but they can easily be the first thing you do. As a culture Americans have all but forgotten how to breath properly (diaphragmatically) and some time devoted to relearning such an essential part of life can improve performance and reduce injury risk. The warmup is setting you up for a successful training session so if you have posture or movement issues that need to be corrected including these as part of your warmup is a good habit which can help you move better. It’s very important too to have a qualified professional who understands movement prescribe these exercises. Next we go on to some general and specific mobilization or stretching. As you’re stretching out go from static to dynamic stretching ending with dynamic stretching as that has been shown to be most effective in reducing injuries and increasing athletic performance. Performing a few minutes of active movements is a great way to increase heart rate and get ready for the meat of your workout. Make sure you use basic human movements like running, skipping, hopping, jumping, and bear crawls.
Finish your warmup with the specific movement you are going to be training at a lighter weight or slower speed. If you’re doing agility drills run through the drills at half speed a couple of times to practice the drill and prepare your body for the movement, if you’re squatting take a few sets to build up to your training weight to practice the movement for a few extra sets as well as get physically and mentally prepared for what is to come.
Although this may seem like a lot of work, especially for a warmup don’t be worried. All of this can be done within 10-15 minutes if done with purpose, and maybe a little bit of extra work will help with some conditioning and help prevent some of those minor aches and pains that tend to rear their ugly head more often then we’d like. Happy training.