Over the past few decades, the world has evolved to understand the myriad benefits of an active lifestyle. With each passing year, more and more people look to start some kind of fitness journey in an effort to live a better, longer and healthier life.
We set goals, envisioning the best versions of ourselves, and develop routines that will keep us on track. We stick to our plans and those routines soon become everyday elements of our new lifestyle. We start seeing the fat loss, we notice those muscles popping out, and we even realizing a new sense confidence in ourselves.
You’re on your way to become that best self when...
You pull a muscle while training.
You’re suddenly sidelined for a few days or even weeks and all of a sudden those gains you were seeing and that confidence you were feeling are beginning to creep away. You convince yourself that all of your hard work was for nothing and lament the steps back you now have to take in your journey toward a Times Square Calvin Klein body, only this time maybe you won’t train as hard, lift as much or run as fast.
The problem with this line of thinking is how it’s rarely the exercise that causes the injury. Rather, most people who injure themselves suffer from never really having had a proper warm-up prior to going into their training session.
With the proper warm-up, almost any run of the mill injury can be avoided while training.
I’m going to talk about five keys to a proper warm-up you can do that won’t take any more than 5-8 mins. These warm-up fundamentals will not only help prevent injury but also help increase overall performance in training for the day.
But first, you need to understand the difference between warming up and simply stretching, then you can understand why executing a dynamic warm-up route is far more effective, and much safer than the old school thought of static stretching?
Think of it this way: whereas dynamic warm-ups get your system ready for action, static stretching is the cooldown to training. Far too many people are relying on static stretching before a training session and not incorporating enough dynamic warm-up.
So to warm-up, think dynamic. To cool down, think static.
Here are five simple tips that you can add to your daily warm-ups to help increase overall performance and prevent injury.
Low cardiovascular activity - This is simple and should take no more than 3-8 mins of low aerobic work that helps increase body temperature and increase blood circulation to the full body. A simple way to do this is to go for a light jog, jump on a rower or hit the stationary bike.
Ground-up approach - Think about how we have engaged in some bad habits throughout out the course of the day. During a dynamic warm-up is the time to rewire how you should move from the ground up. We like to use this approach from 90/90 position, side-lying, quadruped, tall kneeling, half kneeling and standing. This helps reconfigure the overall posture that you will need for your training to have the most effect.
Dynamic movements - Incorporating some type of full-body movements that are lower skill and easy to execute that will mimic what you’re training is focusing on for the day.
Planes of Motion - A lot of athletes forget about all three planes of motion, and get stuck in the Sagittal plane when we are missing the other two planes of motion (frontal and traverse). Always warm up all planes of motion to increase overall muscle and joint integrity.
Activation work - This is the time to take advantage of the new range of motion gained through tips one and two. Activation is how the smaller muscles and the bigger muscles they support all firing together properly.
Here is an example of a simple warm-up that will take no more than 8 mins for a squatting and pressing day:
When it comes to chasing our goals, we need to make sure we are getting in a proper warm-up that is going to set you up for longevity and resistance to injury. Look to start improving your warm-up game and see the benefits yourself.
After all, no one wants to be stuck because they decided not to take care of our body prior to training. Take control of your goals and get after them!