How to Structure a Proper Warm-Up

If you have ever played sports you have been taught the value and importance of a warm-up, the problem is most sports had no clue what they were doing. Go run a lap and then proceeded with 10-15 minutes of static stretching. I am sure we all remember in PE class doing this very general warm-up. Fast forward a decade and now we have been inundated with some many mobility gurus and mobility equipment that it is even more confusing than ever before on how to properly warm-up. You have people just trying to sell you on the expertise and/or selling you on a product which usually goes hand and hand. To cut through the BS we decided to breakdown what science says and how to organize your warm-up to be ready to lift at a high level.

First things first is let’s not think of it as a warm-up but as a predatory phase before training. This phase the idea is to prime the muscles and the CNS to perform at a high level. So how do we do it? What the science says is we don’t want to static stretch 10-15 minutes prior to lifting, we want to move in a dynamic way that will take the muscles and joints through a range of motion that mimics the actual body parts and exercises being trained that day. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28251401

Stretching has it’s place just not before lifting. Next we want to determine how dynamic these movements need to be. I personally like to take them through a slower pace to make sure that the intended muscles that need to be primed are doing the work. Think of it like a bodybuilder trying to obtain mind-muscle connection, it is the same concept but for a warm-up. If you can’t feel a muscle doing the work it probably isn’t getting good work in. A new study corroborates this sentiment https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30326551

So now that we have that part out of the way the next thing we want to think about is sympathetic arousal before the workout and for me the best way to actualize this is to work on breathing and bracing for a good 2-3 minutes in a 90/90 position or a dead bug position and the focus is to try to control your diaphragmatic breathing and than bracing hard in a 360 circumference. This will start to arouse your nervous system and get it primed to lift. While on the ground you can choose a few key dynamic exercises to perform.

Once you have the floor portion down move to kneeling or some type of side plank variation to get the rotational side of things primed. Remember that things tend to track in a meridian line throughout your body so understanding what slings to what can definitely be a helpful tool to pick the proper warm-ups. For instance he left glutei will sling to the right lat so having those 2 muscles as part of an exercise such as bird dogs is a great way to get your body to connect synergistically.

From kneeling you go to standing and pick a few exercises there to finish your warm-up. This is the time I like to take things to an extreme range of motion and isometrically hold it there to allow your body to recognize that range and be comfortable in it. So once you obtain the end range and hold you want to then immediately put it under load so it sticks for the workout.

I know what you are thinking, where are all the cool toys like foam rollers, boomsticks, and theraguns? The fact of the matter is you don’t need them and until there is some good literature to back up there use I will never look to add those into my warm-ups.  Here are 2 videos as well that takes you through a lower body warm-up and an upper body warm-up to give you an idea on how to structure them.

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