Do You Even Warm Up, Bro?
There is a reason that you trust your coaches with your health and fitness. There may be different parts and pieces but ultimately, everyone is here because you want to reach your goals in the safest and quickest manner and hiring us as your coaches takes a lot of the guesswork out of it. As you know, we always stress the importance of proper warmup and mobility work here a Proven Performance. It’s always guided by a coach and its always included with our whiteboard or personal training plans.
That being said, sometimes we get questions as to why we put so much time and emphasis into warming up. After all, you only have so much time to exercise—“Let’s just get on with it already! I’m in a hurry!”
Warming up is a crucial part of every workout and not giving your wam up the love it deserves opens you up for potential unpleasant and even dangerous results… stuff like muscle strains, muscle/joint injuries and lots of pain.
Oh and about those results…getting a proper warmup and mobility session in will IMPROVE your workout performance! BINGO.. now you’ve got your tickets to goal city!
Warming Up: The Basics
So Matt… “What is this warm up you speak of??” Well…A warm up is a short period at the beginning of your training session that is designed to kick start your body into workout mode. It is generally low intensity and prepares your body for the upcoming workload by raising your body’s temperature, lubricating your body’s joints and changes how your brain is acting by getting your Central Nervous System (CNS) in the right mode.
A warm up should increase your heart rate slightly. This raises your core body temperature and increases the blood flow to your muscles. Cold muscles and other connective tissues do not stretch very easily. Think of these body tissues like a rubber band coming out of the freezer… at first the rubber band won’t stretch like it should.. but once it gets up to room temp.. BAM.. that baby’s going from wall to wall. A warm up session literally increases the temperature of these surfaces, relaxes them, and get’s them primed for movement.
If you jump into your workout “cold”, you open yourself up for things like sprains, cramps, tears and injuries. Now if your plan is to reach your goal in the safest and quickest fashion… sprains, cramps, tears and other injuries need to stay out of your life! A simple sprain could keep you out of the gym for an extended period of time as you recover, which makes reaching your goal exponentially harder.
Physiologically, it’ll take about 3-4 minutes of warm up for your body to wake up and realize that it needs to move more blood to your muscles to keep them working. Ideally, your warm up should last between 5 and 10 minutes to get the best results.
Now, there is no “perfect” warm up.. but there are some things your warm up should consist of that depend on what your training looks like. Warm ups should mimic what you are about undertake in your training, but with much less intensity. Your warm up should also get your CSN moving in the right direction. For example, if my training called for 5×5 back squat at 75% .. my warm up might include things like air squats, bodyweight lunges, light russian kettlebell swings and maybe some light jump rope work. If my training called for a bit of running.. I might start with a short, slow jog.
Warming Up: Level 2
Now that you know the basics of how to warm up, let me share with you how I personally prepare myself, as well as every one of my personal training and group fitness clients.
Lets face it… we all want the long term health and fitness benefits that training or working out provides. With that being said, warming up shouldn’t be just you “going through the motions”. If you treat your warm up as seriously as your training session you will reach your goals faster because your body will be more prepared. Try to avoid thinking that you don’t have time to warm up.
At Proven Performance, we approach our warm up and mobility sections as the preparation phases for the workout to come. Through research and practical experience we’ve determined that best results are typically seen when an exercise prep routine incorporates 3 key components:
- Activation (warm up section, 4-6 min)
- Tissue Quality and Mobility (mobility section, 6-10 min)
- Corrective Exercise (skill section – extended warm up, 10-15 min)
Activation – AKA The “Warmup”
More than just a typical warm up, our “warmup section” is designed to prepares your body for the best performance in each workout. This is the part of the session where we raise your heart rate a little, get blood flowing to your body’s tissues and raise your overall body temp. We use movements that are similar to what you will see in your training session to get the CNS on the right page.
Tissue Quality and Mobility – AKA The “Mobility”
Mobility describes the ability of a joint, or a series of joints, to move through an ideal range of motion. Though mobility relies on muscle and joint flexibility, you will also need a base layer of strength, stability, and balance to allow for proper movement. Mobility exercises activate allow you to unlock body tissue that is often dormant (pillar stabilizers in your hips, core and shoulders.. etc) to be used for range of motion. Proper range of motion means that you will be more likely to perform exercises properly therefore decreasing the chance of injury and streamlining you toward your goals.
Almost all chronic joint pain or overuse injuries are caused by tightness and restrictions in the muscles above and below the joint in question. In other words, it’s not always about where you have pain… it’s about where the pain is coming from.
Back pain is often caused by restrictions in the glutes and hamstrings. Knee pain is often caused by restrictions in the tissue of the calves and front/inner/outer thighs. Shoulder pain is often caused by restrictions in the thoracic spine (T-Spine), chest and lats.
Tissue quality describes the general health of your muscles and the interconnected web of fascia that surrounds them all. Over time, we develop scar tissue, adhesions, knots and trigger points due to high-intensity training, overuse, and/or extended periods of sitting. (See our blog post about what chronic sitting can do to you here)
The best way to address these issues are to do more mobility exercises! Smash with a lax ball.. use a foam roller.. tie yourself up to the rig with a band…dig into those tight, sore and restricted muscle groups of the body to break up all those bad pockets of scar tissue, adhesions, knots and trigger points both before and after training to promote injury reduction and allow for a smoother, more productive session.
Corrective Exercise – AKA The “Skill”
We all have unique “issues” with our body and personal range of motion. You may be still developing technique or need a reminder of how to perform a certain exercise or movement. Our Skill component of each workout allows for you to continue to warm up while the coach helps que you with corrections to movement. Nobody is a perfect mover.. and we all can always improve. This is where you receive direct feedback on movement, position and performance under lower intensity. This is often where we grow and improve.
A proper warm up is extended here and a skill session should not be performed without the CNS being ready and the body temp and heart rate slightly elevated. What I’m trying to say is… we always warm up generally before we warm up specifically.
More Than Just a Warm-Up…
So, as you can see, a proper warm up is incredibly important. Remember this when you’re training for smarter for long-term health, fitness goals!
If you need help with program design, warming up or mobility, please reach out to one of our coaches!