Warm Up Exercises – But Why Though?
Warm up exercises. An essential, but often neglected, element of a productive workout. The warm-up is the best time to prepare the body to do the heavy lifting we demand of it in our workout routine, so here is a six-step guide to getting your body mobile and excited for the workout to come.
Phase 1: Self-Myofascial Release or SMR
SMR is a form a self-massage used to loosen adhesions and relax tight muscles in the body. Common tools used to perform SMR include a foam roller, small ball like lax or softball, roller bar or any many other hard surfaces.
Make sure when performing this you relax your body, breathe and move SLOWLY. You may be tempted to rush through it because it is uncomfortable but relax and breath into any tight spots you find.
Roll onto areas that you feel are tight, restricted in motion or even contain trigger points. You want to spend around one minute in each area to ensure you make notable change.
Phase 2: Mobility
Let’s be honest, we can all use some more mobility within our joints. The question we need to ask ourselves when choosing the movement for this drill is “Do our joints work like joints?”.
Can you reach your arm straight overhead? Do your hips allow you to reach the bottom of your squat with correct form? If you’re limited at a joint this is the time to do some drills to expand and restore a healthy range of motion to the joint.
If you have trouble reaching the full range of motion at a joint you should be working to mobilize that joint consistently until motion is restored. It will feel tight and may be hard to breath in certain positions but it is essential to relax and direct your breath to the tight areas.
Phase 3: Corrective Movement
Our body is clever. If a muscle begins to become weak or inhibited our body will resort to another muscle to pick up the weaker muscles job. Many times, this goes unnoticed but to no surprise it doesn’t go unnoticed for long.
Eventually pain and injury will occur due to the imbalance within the body. Correctives are issued to remedy our bodies dysfunction for the upcoming workout and restore proper movement patterns.
Sometimes it is hard to identify dysfunctions in the muscles. Most of the time it is due to poor posture or an injury. You may need to find a physical therapist if you are having pain and they would give you correctives to return proper function.
Phase 4: Activation
This phase will focus on “turning on” specific muscles to prepare them for your more intense exercises afterwards. This is referred to by many as creating or practicing a mind muscle connection.
The best way to activate muscles is by contracting them as hard as possible for a short duration. This excites the muscles motor-neurons so they are ready to go when called upon.
Phase 5: Master the Fundamentals
When performing your warm up exercises, you can’t forget about the basics. Hip hinge, squat and lunges make up the foundation of the lower body while both horizontal and vertical push and pull movements make up the upper body. Lastly is a weighted carry for the core.
This makes for a wide variety of warm up exercises that could be practiced instilling rock-solid technique and powerful muscle activation. The best part is that every exercise is derived from the basics so mastering those will enhance all other exercises as well. Figure out what you need or even want to improve upon and start there.
Phase 6: Central Nervous System a.k.a. CNS Development
The sixth and final phase of the warm-up we will be exciting the nervous system through jumps and throws to tap into the sympathetic nervous system or “fight or flight” response. This will increase the core body temperature and improve neuromuscular coordination and stabilization at all the joints.
The mechanism behind why the CNS becomes excited is from the all-out effort of the jumps and throws. With the CNS primed and ready to go you are in the optimal state to begin your workout.
In review, warm up exercises are an essential part to everyone’s workout.
1. We rid the body of tight muscles through SMR
2. Our mobility work will improve the range of motion at our restricted joints
3. The corrective exercises follow to remove and restore dysfunctions in our motor patterns.
4. We activate our muscles through intense muscular contractions
5. The basics will keep the body in good technique and make for a durable base of support
6. To finish we jump or throw to excite our CNS so we are hyped and ready to get started
Take this guide in mind when preparing for your next workout and prep your body for a strong and productive workout. The results will speak for themselves.