Are you someone who just starts lifting without giving any thought to warming up? Is your training suffering or quality of movement doing downhill? Do you find yourself with nagging injuries all the time? Adding in a quality warm-up before a training session increases body temperature, prepares the body for the workout, and sparks recovery.
There are many different ways to warm-up and many of these ways are great. There old school meathead way of just going in and starting lifting. But watching a lot of these lifters over the years they struggle to move and their bodies are banged up. They also take long rest periods because their bodies are not properly warm-up.
There are also the people who spend half of their allotted workout time warming up, rolling around aimlessly on a foam roller and do random stretches. The people who do this are just wasting time and not actually preparing their body for the workout.
What is the answer?
A warm-up should be customized for each individual, addressing his or her specific needs. It should probably last between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on the person and the workout ahead. Your warm-up should not tire you out. Instead, it should have you feeling better and ready to take on your workout.
Benefits of a good warm-up
- Increases body temperature. A warm-up should literally warm-up the body so you are not cold and stiff heading into the workout. If the body is warm your movements are likely to be better and the risk of injury will be less.
- Prepares the body for the workout. The warm-up should mobilize joints that need mobilization and stabilize joints that need stability. If you look at Gray Cook and Mike Boyle’s Joint-by-Joint model you can figure out which joints fit which category. A warm-up should also get tendons and muscles ready. Driving blood flow to the muscles helps the body feel loose and improve the movement patterns. A warm-up can also be used to strengthen a person’s weak point, discussed below.
- Addresses individual weaknesses. A good warm-up will help people improve his or her weak spots. For example, many people have a weak lower back or tight hips. This is a good place to address these issues with specific exercises designed to improve the issues.
- Sparks recovery. Believe it or not, a warm-up actually spark the recovery process. Using a solid plan prepares the joints, muscles, tendons, and nervous system for the workout. Therefore, it will be easier for the body to recover from the workout because you are not going into a workout cold.
What should a warm-up include?
A good warm-up is dependent on each individual person but can include each of the following.
- Breathing drills: Helps position ribcage in a neutral position and teaches people how to breathe correctly.
- SMR (self-myofascial release): think quality foam rolling, trigger point work and tempering.
- Dynamic mobility: Helps open up movement patterns. Examples: half kneeling hip flexor, side-lying windmill.
- Activation exercises: Improve range of motion, cement movement patterns, and activates down-regulated muscle groups. Examples: band pull aparts, band face pulls, and RKC planks.
- Flow exercises: these are a combination of exercises into a continuous movement.
- Drills that excite the central nervous system: Jumps, sprints, and throws.
How do I determine a warm-up for my clients?
After my initial questionnaire and client meeting, I run a movement assessment with each client. This assessment is where I find any weaknesses, tight areas, movement inefficiencies, and anything that just doesn’t look right. I take these issues and develop a warm-up plan to improve each individual. As well as, incorporating exercises that will prepare them for the upcoming workout. Whether that is an upper body, lower body, full-body, or conditioning workout. The warm-up is designed specifically for each client and workout. If you struggle to come up with a good warm-up or have never used one, contact me and I will help you design one to help improve your training and recovery.