Do you even warm-up Bro? Have you been doing it right? What is a warm-up anyway?
Most people have never learned the purpose of a warm-up. Nay, even the beauty of a warm-up. If they have, they never found a way to make it enjoyable.
Hell, most people hate the gym from start to finish anyway, so cutting corners is an art form. But the warm-up is incredibly important: it sets the stage for the rest of your workout.
A proper warm-up takes your average lift session to a savage lift session. From Clark Kent to Superman. From Saiyan to Super Saiyan
It even cures male-pattern baldness (don’t cite me on that one). Check it out:
First, Why it’s important to warm up:
- brings oxygenated blood to working tissues, leading to better movement and improved flexibility
- raises core body temperature
- enhances your performance
- reduces injury risk
- un-fucks your bad posture (if you sit most of the day this is pretty damn important)
But how do you start? Personally, I like rolling around on a foam roller for a bit before I start moving. If you’re not familiar with a foam roller, it’s a dense piece of foam that you use to massage your muscles before exercise. Here are a list of benefits:
- increases blood flow to tissues
- improves range of motion
- enhances performance
- helps with recovery
- hurts like hell, but in an S&M kind of way
Why the foam roller works is up for debate: some say that it breaks up adhesions or “knots” in muscle. Others say that it acts like a “switch” to signal better parasympathetic-sympathetic nervous control (which is a fancy way of saying it helps you release tension and stress, which influences how your tissues move and respond to movement). You can read more about foam rolling HERE.
Try foam rolling and see how well it works for you. You might end up loving how you feel afterward. It helps me mentally prepare for my workout: sort of like all the rituals baseball players use before and during games.
^If you’ve ever played competitive sports you know the mental game I’m talking about^
Areas you should attack with the foam roller (not exclusive, but a good start):
Flexibility is used to describe a muscle’s ability to lengthen while mobility is used to describe joint range of motion. It’s important to note that they are not mutually exclusive: Mobility is not flexibility, but they do interact and affect each other.
Mobility drills improve functional range of motion (again, un-fucking your hips and other joints that get stiff from sitting too much during the day).
Here are a few of my favorites:
Hip Rockers: improves hip flexor tightness
How to do it: squeeze butt and abs, rock towards a wall. 5-6 reps per side
T-Spine windmill: helps improve thoracic (upper back) movement; basically, you can extend and rotate better
How to do it: lie on your side, pinning a foam roller or medicine ball; reach and rotate, making a windmill motion over the top of your head, then “close your book.” Do about 6-8 reps per side (or more, if it looks terrible)
Spiderman In-step: improves hip and upper back mobility
How to do it: set up in push-up position, step one foot out to the side of your right hand, then rotate your right hand overhead; step back and repeat on the left side; complete 5 per side
Deep Squat hold: improves hip mobility in squat pattern
How to do it: grab your toes and pull your hips down between your legs; hold for 3-5 seconds, then stretch back out, adding some stretch to your hamstrings on the way up; complete 5-6 reps
Again not an exhaustive list, but this will definitely help improve the way you move and feel.
Usually, this is when you would step under a bar or grab a weight and start banging out lighter sets of the exercises you’re going to be doing for the day. And you should DEFINITELY do that.
If you think you’re going to build a 400+ lb deadlift by just slapping on a bunch of weight and getting after it, you’re sorely mistaken, and somewhere in the gym a Physical Therapist is lickin’ her chops because she knows you’re going to be walking into her clinic one day soon. By coincidence only their PT clinic will be called “Ouch-Town”
Warm-up to your heavy lifts by going through and “greasing the groove” with several lighter sets first.
But let’s make it more interesting:
Why not have some fun in your warm-ups? Recently I’ve been adding a few higher intensity activities to my clients warm-ups to both increase blood flow and improve movement capacity while also adding some much-needed fun to the training session.
It might look like this:
A1) 100 skips with the jump rope
A2) 10 KB swings
A3) 5 KB Goblet Squats
A4) Spiderman In-step x 3/side
A5) Plank Reach-out x 5/side
The benefit is multiple folds: we improve body temperature; we’ve reinforced good hip hinge and squat mechanics; we’ve worked on hip and upper back mobility and sprinkled in some core stability work in there too (because abs). We’ll run this circuit about 3 times before moving on to squats and deadlifts.
Here is another:
A1) Naked Turkish Get-up x 2/side
A2) KB Swings x 10
A3) KB Squat with lowering x 5
A4) Farmer’s walk x 30 yards/side
A5) Band Pullaparts x 20
The Turkish Get-up is a great catch-all: mobility; glute activation; and core activation. Plus you gotta think through the movement: we in the biz call that breaking a mental sweat.
Again reinforcing hinge and squat patterns, while the “lowering” part of A3 is killer on your abs.
Farmer’s walks give you strong abs and also improve posture while the band pull-aparts help pull our forward-rounded desk job postures back a little.
Bing. Bang. Boom.
There’s a handful of other things you can add to this warm-up series too:
Make it fun, but don’t make it so strenuous that you lose focus and energy on the rest of your workout. Too much of this stuff can really wear you out. Incidentally, this works really well as a 10-15 minute stand-alone workout if you’re pressed for time.
Give these warm-ups a whirl and let me know how it goes!