The warm up portion of a workout is one of the most crucial elements of any training program. When properly done, having a good warm up routine is an important key to ensuring safety and preventing injury.
Why Do We Warm Up?
In order for our body to be prepared for any strenuous physical activity, a warm up is necessary to begin your workout. By warming up, we will allow the body to increase its core temperature which will lead to increased blood flow and circulation. This increase in blood flow will lead to much more efficient delivery of oxygen to the muscles, tendons, and joints needed to perform your exercises.
Structure Of An Effective Warm Up Routine:
General Warm Up
A general warm up is the portion of the warm up where we are just trying to get the body moving. Getting all the stickiness and gunk loosened up between the muscle and tissue layers to increase blood flow and heart rate. This part of the warm up can take up 3-5 minutes with an athlete doing something such as jogging, rowing, or biking.
Soft-Tissue Work And Mobility
Soft-tissue and mobility work can refer to massage techniques done to muscle groups to help release tension, increase blood flow, and improve range-of-motion. These techniques can be done with self-massaging tools such as foam rollers, lacrosse balls, or even barbells (if you like it rough). To do so, you can use these tools to follow the muscle fibers from origin to insertion, or even give them some cross-fiber scrubbing to help release and wake up the muscles. Soft-tissue work should take up 5-10 minutes of your warm up depending on the areas that are restricted and need attention.
Dynamic Stretching/Muscle Activation
Now that our muscles are loosened up and ready to move, it’s time to wake them up and get them ready for any loading we will be implementing on the muscle groups with some muscle activation drills. These exercises will help to improve the communication lines of the nervous system to the muscular system. Examples of muscle activation exercises include isometric holds (planks and wall sits), tempo prescribed movement (slow squats or push ups), and plyometrics (for movements that require speed and explosiveness). This portion of the warm up can take up 3-5 minutes depending on the movements you will be performing in your workout.
Specific Warm Up
This portion of the warm up is where you will be implementing movements that help address the movements in your workout. These are usually movements that are similar to what your workout looks like and will help to reinforce proper movement mechanics. Examples of specific warm up exercises for a back squatting sessions include good mornings to enforce proper hinging mechanics, plate squats to reinforce a vertical trunk when performing the back squat, and tempo prescribed back squats to slow the movement down and ensure optimal mechanics at every position of the squat. This portion of the warm up can take up 3-5 minutes depending on the amount of sets and repetitions you’ll need before loading on weight.
I hear it all the time – “Why would I waste my energy in my warm up? I’ve got to save it so that I have more to do more!” I’ve heard this because I used to be one to say that myself. It took a toll on my body and actually made my workouts a lot more difficult to get through. My tendons weren’t ready to move weight on some days and that led to joint pain. After implementing a good warm up routine before every workout, my joints are feeling healthier, I’m moving much better through the exercises and I’m recovering better!