You walk into the gym, put your stuff down, tie your shoes, and turn your iPod on to your favorite pump up playlist. What do you do next?
Do you hop on the treadmill or bike for 5 minutes? Do you grab your toes with your legs straight and hold that for a couple seconds? Do you just start lifting weights? Or do you go through a dynamic warm-up?
I have head people say things like, “Does a lion warm up before it starts chasing a zebra or does the zebra have a chance to warm up before it sees a lion coming for him?” When I hear that comment I have to remind people that we are not those animals, we are completely different. Our bodies differ from those species in that we need to properly warm up before we workout in order to get the most out of each workout, prevent injury, and help with recovery.
What I am trying to get at is that everyone should make time to get a dynamic warm-up in before any type of exercise. We aren’t in the safari so lets focus on warming up our bodies and keeping it healthy so we can do it all over again the next day.
The goal for warming up is to prepare our body for exercise to enhance our performance and also decrease our chances of injury.
There are 5 important characteristics to a good dynamic warm-up.
General Movement – The goal is to increase body and muscle temperature.
Examples: Jogging, Skipping, Shuffling
Pillar Activation – The goal is to activate targeted muscle group.
Examples: Mini-Band Marches, Hip Series, Mini-Band Shoulder series
Dynamic Stretches – The gaol is to increase mobility and activation.
Examples: Knee Hug March, Quad Pull, Single Leg Deadlift, Worlds Greatest
Movement Integration – The goal is to increase activation with more specificity.
Examples: A-Skips, Lateral Skips, Yoga Pushups
Nervous System Activation – The goal is to clear nervous system pathways to improve muscle force and rate of force development.
Examples: 2in Runs, Pogos, Base Rotations, Hurdle Hops
Now that we know the 5 characteristics of a warm-up what do we do now?
To design the perfect dynamic warm-up for yourself, you need to first consider what you are trying to accomplish that day? For example; are you going for a jog, are you lifting (lower body/upper body) or are you working on agility? Once you know your plan for that day, start creating a workout designed to help enhance performance for the movements you will be performing. For example, if you are working on multi-directional movements, your warm-up should have an emphasis on lateral specific movements to prep your body for moving left and right. You also want to focus on coordination, velocity, and force when choosing warm-up exercises. For instance, are you on 1 foot or 2? Is your velocity going to be slow or fast? Will the warm-up be low impact or is it going to be high force development?
Whether you have 2 minutes or have 15 minutes to warm-up on a given day, if you are able to add each characteristic to your warm-up you will be setting yourself up for success with a possibility of hitting a PR and most importantly staying healthy.