Add Some Spice to Your Warm Up
The most important and overlooked part of your training session is the first 5–15 minutes, also known as the warm up. The worst thing someone can possibly do when they get to the gym is head straight to the bench press or do any other free weight exercise for that matter and start attempting to lift weight they can barely rep 8–10 times. Your muscles are cold, tight, and unaware of what type of stress is about to be placed on them. This is a recipe for disaster!
Why do most of us skip a proper warm up? (If you’re about to lift or do any type of high intensity training, a 3–5 minute walk on the treadmill doesn’t cut it folks. Sorry.) Simply put—because it’s boring. Why would you want to waste any of your precious pectoral or gun show flexing time anyway?
Well, it’s time for you to get over it. Make things interesting and start planning extra time so you can squeeze this valuable asset into your training program. A proper warm up will usually feature dynamic stretches, body weight exercises, and possibly some running and/or jumping. I also encourage you to add in some balance and agility exercises to bolster core strength, stability, and overall coordination.
Not only will a warm up help set the right tone for your training and increase your confidence for your workout, but it will also increase your body’s core temperature, increase your muscle’s range of motion (ROM), and stimulate the central nervous system, which will allow you to recruit more muscle fibers (which equals the ability to lift heavier weight and have a quicker reaction time). It will increase the elasticity of your muscles and connective tissue (decrease the likelihood of injury) and also improve your movement patterns. Once completed, the body and mind are now primed to act within the necessary parameters required for the sport. Remember, one way to tell if you have done an adequate warm up is you’ll have a little perspiration, which means the body is truly warmed up and ready for more strenuous activity.
Here’s an example of a simple warm up:
- 20 jumping jacks
- 5 body weight squats
- 20 crossover jacks (both feet and arms cross each other)
- 5 body weight squats
- 20 backward lunges w/ an arm reach
- 20 Alternating quad pull (standing quad stretch w/ brief second hold each time)
- 20 lateral lunges
- 10 walk outs with push-up (Keep feet planted and legs straight while walking out with the hands to the push-up position. Then walk up with your feet while keeping your legs straight. This will stretch your hamstrings dynamically)
- 20 bird/dogs
- 15 seconds of cats and dogs
- 10 lying hip raises
- 15 second cobra stretch
- 10-20 mountain climbers with hip flexor stretch
- 20 arm circles and wrist circles (throw in a wrist stretch as well)
By utilizing any of these exercises in a structured format, every athlete is able to warm up their body appropriately before exercise, practice, or competition. However, it is essential that all of the exercises be performed correctly and with substantial effort to achieve maximum potential. Now is the time to begin implementing an efficient warm up into your daily routine. It would benefit you tremendously, so if you haven’t done so already, why not get started?
Brock Daniels, MS, CSCS, RKC
Owner, NLTS Strength & Conditioning
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