By Elizabeth "Leisa" Redmon
Warming up. Arguably, the worst part of working out. I mean, who wants to breathe hard before we’re forced to breathe hard? Am I right? As much as my truth game is on point, so is this: warming up is incredibly necessary and we all need to do it. I’m usually pretty long-winded, but with something this important, I want to keep it brief and straight to the point.
Three main and incredibly important reasons to efficiently warm up prior to working out:
1. Avoid Injury
Going into a workout cold does no one any good. The complaints to your coach, of creaky and popping joints coupled with hammies that feel like they could pop not only sounds bad, but feels terrible as well.
Believe it or not, the warm up is a really good indicator of what to look out for in your training for the day. For example, if you squatted heavy yesterday, you may or may not be incredibly sore. Either way, the warm up is going to talk to you and tell you how to best navigate your training. The increased blood flow will help relieve some immediate soreness. However, the warm up will most likely uncover where intensity and volume will need to be reduced for some of your planned exercises for the day.
An immediate example comes to mind of when a friend who wasn’t used to squatting regularly, had some tension in their hamstrings the following day. After a less than stellar, aka poor, warm up, he went immediately into light squatting and actually strained his hamstring pretty severely, causing him to be out to rehab that muscle for multiple weeks.
Moral of this short story? Warm up properly, even if it’s a little cumbersome and annoying, to avoid weeks of rehab down the road. Be proactive. Not reactive!
2. Activate Muscle Groups
Rarely do you see someone who has properly warmed up move worse than if they had jumped right in cold. (Actually, I’m not even sure that’s possible…) Regardless, a ton of common movement flaws we see in the world of exercise are, simply stated, a lack of proper muscle group activation that leads to putting your body in a compromised position.
Since so much of the working population has a full-time job which leads to constant sitting in one position for hours on end, let’s take a look at the deadlift. The simple act of sitting, if you aren’t careful, leads to inactive glutes and an even more inactive core. This being said, it’s so incredibly important that we spend the extra ten minutes before our workout performing glute and hamstring activation exercises. This will take you from the agonizing “all back deadlift” to a proper hinge with strong glutes and hamstrings.
3. Improve Flexibility
A tight muscle is a weak muscle aka a shortened and tight muscle cannot perform the task required of complete range of motion and any respective loading. So, in order to improve your strength or work capacity in a safe manner, it’s pretty important to increase your flexiblity and organic range of motion. One of the best ways of doing this? Stretching. But more importantly and a step further from that? Proper stretching.
That means understanding muscles typically don’t respond effectively to static stretching unless sufficiently warmed up.
Well, “Hey!” look at that. Warm ups ARE beneficial and don’t just suck the life outta you. They actually make ya stronger!
Sample Warm Up
- 500m row (increase in speed every 100m)
- 100 single unders
- Couch stretch
- Pigeon stretch
- Foam roll back/ lats
- 20 slow banded good mornings
- Banded overhead distraction
- 10 Kip beats
- 10 Toes to bar
- 10 Cal Assault Bike Sprint
Now. Go forth and avoid injury in order to maximize your potential.