Ah, the warm up. Some don’t mind it. Most find it annoying. Everyone needs it. You’ve heard the reasons why: warms up the muscles, gets your heart pumping, increases range of motion, and enhances performance. In this article I’m going to 1) give you a little more detail as to WHY you should warm up before EVERY training session and 2) HOW to warm up. Trust me, you’ll never want to skip warm up again.

 

WHY

A good, thorough warm up primes your central nervous system. This allows your brain to send signals at the proper time and the right amount when exercising. If the connection is “delayed” then your muscles won’t kick on properly and you’ll feel weaker. You’ll mistakenly think the weight is too heavy or the movement too difficult but you’re brain, simply, isn’t sending the signals fast enough.

 

In addition, a solid warm up “wakes up” the muscle fibers themselves. This is based on the “size principle” which states that as muscles begin working, other muscles will eventually kick on to help with the movement pattern. If you don’t get these muscles ready, much like the central nervous system, you will think the weight or movement is too difficult. Warm them up and they will be ready to work….hard!

 

HOW

There are many ways to warm up. For this article I’m going to focus on the general population who are performing a basic strength training routine. Generally, this should take between 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

 

LOWER BODY

  • Standing Calf Stretch 1-2s x 10-15 reps + Quick Calf Raise
    • Why?
      • Improves ankle range of motion for lunging and squatting patterns.
    • Bulgarian Split Squat 1-2s pause (at bottom) x 10-15 reps
      • Why?
        • Helps release tension in the hip flexors while simultaneously priming them for antagonistic work with deep hip flexion patterns (i.e. squats)
      • 1-Leg RDL x 10-15
        • Why?
          • Mobilizes hamstring range of motion and balance between left/right sides of the body
        • Plyo Side Lunges x 10-15
          • Why?
            • Lateral patterns are key for knee health and this will improve adductor mobility and strength for deep squat patterns and lunging
          • Jump Squats OR Kettlebell Swing
            • Why?
              • Studies have shown that plyometric drills are one of the best ways to enhance central nervous system response and prime muscles for heavy lifts

 

UPPER BODY

  • Lying Dumbbell Ext. Rotation x 10-15
    • Why?
      • One of the best exercises for rotator cuff health and strength. Should be done daily!
    • Kettlebell Halo
      • Why?
        • Helps mobilize the shoulders while kicking up a little strength focus. Again, another great exercise for the rotator cuff
      • Dowel Dislocate
        • Why?
          • Popular among gymnast and Olympic lifters this drill stretches the biceps, pecs, and wrist flexors/extensors. Plus, works the internal and external rotation of the shoulder blades
        • Band Pull Apart
          • Why?
            • Gets your rear delts and muscles along the scapula “ready” for heavy lifts. These muscles tend to be undertrained and need daily attention
          • Pushups OR Dips
            • Why?
              • Nothing better to get your chest, triceps, and shoulders ready for all the pushing work you’re about to do
            • TRX Wide Rows
              • Why?
                • Similar to pushups, rows will get your pulling muscles (back, biceps) ready for your workout

 

These aren’t the end-all-be-all of warm up exercises but it’s a great place to start. Think you have an exercise we should include? Let us know!

 

STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!