It takes extra time, it’s kind of a pain, but the truth is: if you don’t have the time to warm up, you don’t have the time to work out.
The Member’s Area has three warm-ups to choose from, each under 10 minutes. Learn more about warming-up below, or choose one from the menu on the right.
The Member’s Area has three warm-ups to choose from, each taking less than 10 minutes. Learn more about warming-up below, or choose one from the menu at the end of the page.
I get it. You’re busy, and warming-up is about as exciting as watching paint dry.
We all know we should warm-up, but for most of us, the warm-up is usually nothing more than an afterthought; or, something we half heartedly do because our 8th grade gym teacher told us we had to. But here’s the thing:
Working out with cold muscles that are not ready to move is a recipe for injury.
And when you get injured, you can’t workout. At least not optimally.
Spending 5-10 minutes warming-up is a small price to pay to avoid missing an entire 6 months of training because you got injured.
The question, then, is what should a warm-up do, and more importantly, what should it look like? A good warm-up should:
- Increase body temperature.
- Improve joint lubrication.
- Engage the nervous system to a greater degree.
- Improve extensibility/flexibility of muscles.
- Groove movement patterns.
More specifically, given that many of us spend far too much time hunched over in front of a computer every day, the warm-up should target the areas of the body which tend to be most problematic: namely, the glutes, hips, thoracic spine, shoulders, and core.
Standing still and holding a stretch for 30 seconds does nothing in terms of preparing you for the more dynamic nature of what you’ll be doing in your workouts.
We need to take the warm-up more seriously and view it not as a necessary evil, but something that will undoubtedly help you feel and move better, while dramatically reducing your chances of getting injured.
If you haven’t got a foam roller, you need to get one. It’s one of the best investments you will ever make.
You can pick a foam roller up for as little as $10, so there’s really no excuse for not getting one. That said, I really like those made by Trigger Point Performance (pictured below, best for beginners) and Rumble Roller (best for intermediate/advanced).
When we exercise or play sports, we tend to accumulate knots, adhesions and scar tissue in our muscles, which affect their ability to lengthen fully. If left unattended, these knots can become problematic and lead to muscle strains and other injuries.
You can stretch until you’re blue in the face, but unless you get those knots out of the way, the muscle won’t be able to fully lengthen in the first place.
Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release, is a form of self-massage that addresses these knots. Applying pressure to specific points on your body aids the recovery of muscles and assists them in returning to normal function. Normal function means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice.
You should foam roll before all of your workouts – even before your warm-up.
To foam roll properly, apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle or muscle group using the roller and your bodyweight. When you find areas that are tight or painful, pause for several seconds and relax as much as possible. You should slowly start to feel the muscle releasing, and after 5-30 seconds the discomfort or pain should lessen.
If an area is too painful to apply direct pressure, shift the roller and apply pressure on the surrounding area and gradually work to loosen the entire area. The goal is to restore healthy muscles – it is not a pain tolerance test.
Never roll a joint or bone, and avoid rolling your lower back. If you are having issues with your neck, refer these issues to an appropriate medical professional, as these areas they can be more sensitive and require more advanced attention.
Here is a short effective foam rolling routine from the (very smart) guys at Cressey Performance that you should try to incorporate at the beginning of your routines.
After foam-rolling, we want to perform what’s called a dynamic warm-up. This is a series of stretches that are ‘dynamic’, meaning you are moving as you stretch.
Here we address all the problematic areas mentioned earlier, while also working through a full range of motion and stimulating the nervous system.
Dynamic stretching is an ideal way of warming-up for several reasons:
- It activates muscles you will use during your workout. For example, a lunge with a twist is a dynamic stretching exercise that engages your hips, legs, and core.
- Dynamic stretching improves range of motion. If you feel like you can barely bend over to tie your shoes after a long day at work, a dynamic warm-up routine can help you feel more limber.
- Dynamic stretches improve body awareness. Moving as you stretch challenges your balance and coordination; skills that help your performance.
- Warming up in motion enhances muscular performance and power. Studies reveal dynamic stretching before a workout can help you lift more weight and increase overall athletic performance compared to no stretching or static stretching.
The entire warm-up should take no more than 10 minutes. By which time, you should have broken a light sweat and be feeling ready for your workout.
The third and final step only applies if you are using weights in your workout.
While many of the workouts in the Member’s Area don’t involve weights, there are plenty that do, including dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells.
The weights you use in your workout are determined by your current strength, fitness and level of experience. You can find out more about which weights to select here.
But whatever weight you choose to use, you need to warm up to it.
This means that you don’t start with the maximum amount of weight that you are going to use. Instead you should perform 1-4 warm-ups sets beforehand.
Here are two different ways of implementing your warm-up sets.
Pick the two ‘biggest’ exercises in the workout (i.e. the exercises that work the most amount of muscles), and do 1-4 of warm-up sets beforehand.
One of these exercises should be lower-body. Examples of ‘big’ lower-body exercises:
- Hip Thrusts
- Kettlebell Swings
One of these exercises should be upper-body. Examples of ‘big’ upper-body exercises:
- Bench Press
- Barbell Rows
- Overhead Press
You should gradually increase the weight you use for each warm-up set. For example, if you intend to use 130lbs/60kg for your deadlifts in the workout, your warm-up sets could be:
Do one or two ‘warm-up’ circuits.
Before beginning your workout, do the same routine as prescribed, but use a reduced amount of weight (or bodyweight-only).
The Next Step
Now you know how to prepare your body for exercise, it’s time learn more about the workouts and challenges.