Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How to properly warm up before exercising

I often see people come in to the gym and without any hesitation go over to the bench press or squat rack, throw on a bunch of weights, and start their workout.

This may seem like the logical thing to do for most gym goers, besides that's what you are going to the gym for right, to "lift weight".  Although this is true, a proper warm up can provide huge benefits; such as warming up your core temperature, preparing your central nervous system, and activating the muscles you'll be working that day.

A proper warm up should last for at least 10-15 min., and include some foam rolling, dynamic stretches (aka: movement prep), and a few full-body movements of the workout exercises or ones similar to the workout for that day.  For instance, your movement prep should be specific to what you will be working that day.  It should vary depending on whether you will be working on speed work (sprints) or upper/lower body lifting.

Foam Rolling
Then grab a foam roller and roll out the following areas 6-8 times each.  Foam rolling is basically a self massage, and the purpose is to create some elasticity in the muscles and break up any tension that might be in those areas.

IT Bands
Quads/Hip Flexors
Adductors (inside of thigh)
Glutes (butt muscles)
Lower/Upper Back

Movement Prep
Doing these will reduce your risk of injury and improve your performance.  Here are some of my favorite movement prep exercises that EXOS (formerly Athletes' Performance) uses.  Others can include karaoke, lateral shuffling, and jumping jacks/jump rope.

Full-Body Movements
These should be specific to your workout exercises or very similar in movement.  A simple rule of thumb when lifting weights is to perform movements in all planes of motion.  So here are some good exercises to help prepare your muscles for lifting.  Keep in mind that if you are going to be performing big compound moves (Barbell Squats, Deadlifts, Barbell Bench Press) you may want to spend even more time doing some warm up sets of each specific exercise.

Use light weight and do 1-2 sets of 10-12 reps each.

DB Goblet Squat
KB Swings or Med Ball Good Mornings
DB Overhead Press
Band lateral Walks
Med Ball Chops

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