When entering the gym, warming up is typically the last thing on our mind. When we do decide to warm-up, it generally lacks direction or purpose.
We are all guilty of this, however, we can be much more specific in order to ensure we are having productive workouts.
How does warming up make our workouts more productive?
By raising our tissue temperature and preparing our body for the demands of the session, warm-ups effectively decrease our likelihood of injury and help improve performance.
Designing A Warm-up
First things first, you MUST write down your plan before walking into the gym. If you go in without a plan, 9 out of 10 times you won’t accomplish anything of significance.
We recommend creating exercise programs that last 4 weeks. We select 4 weeks because it allows for adaptation and helps us build proficiency and strength with the movements.
Once you have this you can figure out exactly what exercises need to be added to effectively prepare your body. This should include mobility/stability work, dynamic exercises, and power work.
Let’s break this down further.
Structuring Your Warm-Up
Warm-ups should start with easier, more simplistic drills, and progress to higher, more neurologically demanding tasks.
When designing your warm-up, you must make sure that both mobility and stability work is added – in that order.
Exercise selection should be based of your individual limitations, as well as the exercises to follow. For example, if you are squatting that day you may want to sprinkle some ankle, hip, and thoracic spine mobility that day.
Once you’ve got your joints moving you want to add stability exercises. For that same squat day, you may want to add glute activation drills and anterior core stabilization exercises.
At the end of the day it is easy to get overwhelmed with which exercise (of the thousands out there) to select from. Take a step back and think, “why” am I picking this exercise, and when in doubt – stick to the basics.
Follow up your stability work with dynamic exercises. This consists of basic exercises for the major muscle groups that increases heart rate, blood flow, muscle temperature, and core body temperature (NSCA).
Examples of this is Spiderman’s, Inch Worm’s, Figure 4’s, etc…
After your dynamic exercises we recommend adding power work to finish up and get your nervous system primed to workout. Jumping, medicine ball work, etc… are all great things to add here.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER.
Here is an example of what a warm-up would look like for a lower body focused workout with the squat as the primary exercise
Frog Position PAILS/RAILs
Hip Flexor Stretch
Single Leg Glute Bridge with Iso Hold At The Top
Side-Lying Leg Raises
Medicine Ball Slams
As you can see the exercises start on the ground and progress to standing. At the same time they go from static to more dynamic. This is a natural progression that will help get your body ready for the upcoming session.
Start putting your warm-ups together in this fashion. It will allow you to coast through your opening sets, help loosen up your joints, and help decrease your overall risk of injury. If you feel like your workouts start off slow and it takes you a few sets to get into the swing of things, reworking the way you warm-up could be highly beneficial for you.