Most people will concede (often reluctantly) that warming up prior to training is important. Yes it’s a very boring topic and we’d all rather walk it to the gym and just get on with it, but if you’re serious about staying healthy and getting results in the gym, you need to embrace the warm up.
Warming up has important physiological and psychological benefits. Physiologically (body) a warm up will increase the heart rate, loosens the joints and increases blood flow to the muscles. Psychologically (mind) it gives us five to ten minutes to prepare ourselves mentally for what we’re about to do. For some people this is visualisation etc, for others its an opportunity to get the last of the chit-chat out of the system before they focus fully on their workout!
Previously a warm up might have consisted of 5-10 minutes of an increasing speed on a treadmill followed by a couple of token arm circles and a few cheeky leg swings (or worse, the old ‘arm across the chest stretch’ that nobody ever really needed to be doing). Not any more, we need to be more savvy…..
The ‘Warm up’ has now been replaced with the rather ingeniously branded ‘Movement Prep’ (MP). MP is an approach which still provides us with the afore mentioned physiological and psychological benefits but prepares the body with a more focussed and more specific approach which will mobilise the joints, release soft tissue (muscles etc), stretch out any tight muscles, activate any underactive muscles, and get the body moving in the multiple patterns in which it is about to set forth.
Now there are many ways to go about movement prep, all of which will work for different populations and their differing goals. Our approach at W10 is four-fold and we follow the following sequence:
Where there are overactive muscles there will be under active ones (often referred to as ‘weak’, although not always the case) . The goal once we’ve inhibited the overactive, or strong, muscles is to activate their dormant, under active or weak, cousins so that when we come to move they have been awoken and are ready to take up their share of the slack.
These muscles often work in opposites so we often see underactive neck flexors (front of neck), rhomboids/scapular retractors (mid back), shoulder eternal rotators (back of shoulder), mid/lower traps (mid back), and glutes.
Once we’ve released the soft tissue, inhibited the overactive muscles and activated the sluggish ones, we want to ingrate our re-wired system into movement or patterns in which it is going to be exposed, typically with bodyweight exercises.
The bottom line is that we don’t move as much or as well as we used to and a good quality warm up/MP is probably the difference between good structural health and effective workouts and otherwise. And if you’re not doing it, you should be.
Everyone has different requirements but apply these principles and see how you get on. You’ll get better results from your training and your joints will definitely thank you for it!