UPGRADE YOUR WARM UP

You might be tempted to skip the warm up when you work out.  After all, you only have so much time to exercise—“Let’s just get on with it already!  I’m in a hurry!”

But warming up is a critical component of your fitness routine, and skipping it could have unpleasant and even dangerous results—such as muscle strain, muscle injury and pain.

Oh yeah, and a proper warm-up will actually IMPROVE your workout performance!

The Warm-up:  Basics

 

A warm up is a short workout period at the beginning of your exercise session.  It is generally low intensity and prepares your body for the upcoming exertion.

The purpose of a traditional warm up is to slightly increase your heart rate. This raises your core body temperature and increases the blood flow to your muscles.  Cold muscles and other connective tissues do not stretch very easily.  A warm up session literally warms them up and relaxes them, making them more supple and ready to work.

Without a warm up, you will be more susceptible to sprained muscles, cramps and injury.  Ultimately, these effects could keep you from exercising for an extended period of time as you recover, which is not conducive to the healthy lifestyle you desire.

It takes about three minutes for your body to realize that it needs to move more blood to your muscles, so the ideal warm up time is between five and ten minutes.

There is no set prescription for what your warm up should consist of.  You can choose a set of preparatory exercises (such as squats, lunges, toe touches, etc.,) or you can do a light intensity version of your upcoming workout (a brisk walk to prepare for a run, for example, or lifting light weights before increasing the load).

The Warm-Up:  Advanced Strategy

Now with all that being said about a “basic” warm-up, let me share with you how I personally prepare myself, as well as every one of my personal training clients.

For long-term health and fitness combined with your weight loss training efforts it’s imperative to understand that a proper warm-up is about more than just “warming up the body.”  It’s a about preparing the body for an all-out training assault that’s going to boost your metabolism through the roof.

Therefore, we look at the warm-up as a Preparation Phase for the workout to come.  Through research and practical experience we’ve determined that best results are typically seen when an exercise prep routine incorporates 3 key components:

  1. Tissue Quality

  2. Corrective Exercise

  3. Mobility & Activation

Tissue Quality

Almost all chronic joint pain or overuse injuries are caused by tightness and restrictions in the muscles above and below the joint in question.  In other words, it’s not about PAIN SITE… it’s about PAIN SOURCE!

Knee pain is often caused by restrictions in the tissue of your calves and front/inner/outer thighs.  Back pain is often caused by restrictions in your glutes and hamstrings.  Shoulder pain is often caused by restrictions in your thoracic spine (T-Spine), chest and lats.

Tissue quality describes the general health of your muscles and the interconnected web of fascia that surrounds them all.  Over time, we develop scar tissue, adhesions, knots and trigger points due to high-intensity training, overuse, and/or extended periods of sitting.

The best way to address this is to self-massage sore, tight, and restricted muscle groups of the body to regenerate tissue both pre and post-workout to promote injury reduction and allow for a smoother, more productive workout.

In addition, self-massage before stretching allows for a better, more complete stretch by smoothing out the knots. You should always precede flexibility work with tissue quality for best results.

Massage is one of those counter-intuitive things whereby you are actually actively searching for pain. In fact, it’s the only time to ever do so when it comes to proper training.

The best analogy I can give you is this:

If it hurts that much when you put pressure on your muscles, just imagine how bad your joints must feel!

Corrective Exercise

We all have unique “issues” with our body mechanics and functional movement capabilities. 

 

For some it’s a lack of flexibility, while others there may be a balance or mobility issue. 

 

Perhaps there’s an asymmetry – one side is significantly “stronger” than the other leading to muscular imbalances, postural distortions and overcompensation injuries. 

 

You can find out your individual corrective needs by going through a movement screen such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).

The FMS is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function.  

 

By screening these patterns, the FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries.  These are issues that can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and distort body awareness.
 
The FMS generates the Functional Movement Screen Score, which is used to target problems and track progress. This scoring system is directly linked to the most beneficial corrective exercises to restore mechanically sound movement patterns.
 
Exercise professionals monitor the FMS score to track progress and to identify those exercises that will be most effective to restore proper movement and build strength in each individual.
 
So, in a nutshell, the FMS is designed to

  • Identify functional limitations and asymmetries which have been linked to increased injury risk

  • Provide exercises to restore proper movement, and build stability, mobility, and strength in each individual

Mobility & Activation

More than just a typical warm-up, a mobility and activation circuit truly prepares your body for a maximum performance workout.

Mobility describes the ability of a joint, or a series of joints, to move through an ideal range of motion. 

 

Though mobility relies on flexibility, it requires an additional strength, stability, and neuromuscular control component to allow for proper movement. 

 

Activation is often paired with mobility because many mobility exercises activate key, and often dormant, pillar stabilizers in your hips, core and shoulders.

More Than Just a Warm-Up…

So, as you can see, a warm-up is much more than just a warm-up when you’re training smarter for long-term health, fitness and fat loss goals.

Think twice before you skip the “warm-up” in your next workout

WARMING UP FOR KETTLEBELLS

An effective warm up is essential to any training programme especially when training with your own bodyweight & kettlebells.

 

The nature of kettlebell lifting demands that the body is well prepared for the kind of ballistic, full body movements it will encounter.

 

It is not simply just a question of ensuring the muscles are warm, but also of preparing the neuromuscular system (includes all the muscles in the body and the nerves serving them) which is a key factor in well-executed Kettlebell lifts. Alongside this warm up you will need to mobilise all the joints, align the spine, ‘fire up’ the appropriate muscles and focus the mind.

 

You will always perform better and your risk of injury if you take the time to prepare for your training sessions with an appropriate warm up.

 

I recommend and will teach a DYNAMIC warm up approach, this has been shown to be far more effective than static stretching alone as preparation for any training session, particularly kettlebells.

 

There is no evidence as of the date this was written to confirm that static stretching before exercise improves strength, power or reduce injuries, although it is an excellent way to cool down.

1. NECK MOBILITY

  • Rotate head from side to side without dropping the chin

  • Drop chin to chest then head tilts back slowly and smoothly allowing a stretch at the top of the spine

Complete 10-15 repetitions of each

2. WINDMILLS

  • Windmill your arms backward engaging core; maintain a smooth and controlled movement reach arms up as you rotate stretching lats and mobilising shoulder girdle.

  • Windmill your arms forward in same manner as above

Complete 10 - 15 each side

3. CHEST

  • Windmill your arms backward engaging core; maintain a smooth and controlled movement reach arms up as you rotate stretching lats and mobilising shoulder girdle.

  • Windmill your arms forward in same manner as above

Complete 20 claps

4. SIDE rotation

  • Stand feet shoulder width apart, hold hands out in front and rotate as far round either side

Complete 10-15 each side

5. Hip rotation

  • Stand feet shoulder width apart, hands behind back or on hips and ‘draw’ a smooth circle in both directions with hips.

Complete 15-20 in both directions

6. LOWER BACK & HAMSTRINGS

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart, place hands on hips

  • Push the hips back and feel the hamstrings tightening

  • Snap the hips forward squeezing the bum cheeks tight at the top

Complete 15 - 20 hip hinges

7. INCHWORM - COBRA- DOWNWARD DOG

  • Stand in a hamstring stretch position with hands on floor and head down towards knees, if hamstrings are tight bend the knees as needed and then begin to slowly inch forward into a press up position.

 

Keeping arms straight throughout the movement, this should not feel like a press up, drop the hips to the ground keeping core engaged to protect the back and look up to the sky, hold for a few seconds then push the bum back between the heels, keep hands on the floor and arms stretched out in front of you, move back to cobra pose  and then slowly inch back to the start position until you feel a comfortable stretch in hamstrings.

 

Repeat x 5 - 10 allowing your own flexibility to determine your pace and range of motion.

8. FIRE HYDRANTS

  • Start on all fours in a cat curl position, maintain spinal alignment, core engaged, head up then draw a circle forwards with your knee in a smooth, dynamic motion, repeat with other leg then change direction drawing a circle backwards. This will open the hips and ‘fire’ the glutes.

Complete 10-15 circles each side

9. Kick backs

  • Maintain position on all fours as above kicking one leg up behind and above you to the sky, keep knee slightly bent and sole of foot aiming to the sky throughout. Maintain spinal alignment, core engaged to minimise rotation at hip and protect the back. This should be a smooth, dynamic motion.

Complete 15 - 20 kickbacks each side

10. Spidermans

  • Start in a press up position and bring one leg at a time up to sit next to hand stretching the hip flexors and hamstrings, make sure the foot is flat on the floor and heel is touching ground. Alternate legs and hold stretch until you feel some release, maintain spinal alignment keeping core engaged throughout.

Complete 10-15 repetitions each side

11. Iron cross

  • Lie on back arms directly out to the side, engage core lifting legs directly above you minimising knee bend, keeping shoulder blades in touch with the ground at all times, drop legs towards opposite hand then bring back to start and drop legs to the other side. This should be a smooth dynamic motion.

Complete 10 each side

WARMING UP FOR BODYWEIGHT TRAINING

Conclusion to Warm Up Exercises

The warm up is a chance to improve your joint mobility as well as replicate the same movement patterns you will be using during your workout.

 

Start by moving through your joints starting at the neck and working down.

Spend time working on those areas that lack mobility and less time on those that are already mobile.

Next, you move on to more specific warm up exercises that focus on the movement patterns used within your workout.

For example: If you are going to be performing the kettlebell swing then warm up the swing movement pattern.

Finally, finish by introducing the kettlebell and performing some general kettlebell warm up exercises.

Likewise if you are going to be performing bodyweight squats or press ups, perform a few exercises before starting the workout.

Your whole warm up should take no longer than 10-15 minutes and is a good time to work on your weaknesses and assess how you are feeling that particular day.

Sometimes you can use a good warm up for a nice and easy workout on its own.

Overall…take your time, listen to your body and never skip a warm up!

Any Questions?

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