Are you jumping into your workout without properly preparing your body for an intense session of strength training or even running? Properly warming up your body will decrease your risk of injury significantly and increase your performance amazingly. A good warm up consists of dynamic movements. Dynamic means that you move through the joints range of motion, not hold statically. So this is not holding a hamstring stretch (forward bending). Save these static stretches for after your workout. This is when your muscles are warmest and most responsive to this type of stretching. I have a video for you, but first I’d like you to understand the theories on why this is the best way to start your workout.
How does a dynamic warm up prevent injury and increase performance?
By increasing blood flow to muscles, increasing your overall body temperature, increasing mobility throughout the joints, activating the nervous system, lengthening the fascia, and mentally preparing you for a tough workout. Think about this example. You go right into your workout. You start with some weighted squats. However, your poor hamstrings are not properly warmed up, your glutes (butt muscles) are not properly activated, and you are still thinking about that document that you lost for a big presentation at work. Needless to say your form suffers. You put excess strain on your quadriceps, you can’t lift as heavy, and you are discouraged. All of this could have been eliminated with a good dynamic warm up.
When should you include a dynamic warm up?
Always include one before strength training, and high impact sports (soccer, basketball, tennis). I also recommend them for before running. The upper body ones shown in the video may not be necessary, but warming up the quadriceps, hips, hamstrings, and calves before running can make an amazing difference in how you feel. Now if you are going out for a leisurely walk, a dynamic warm up is probably not essential.
I do a specific dynamic warm up with all of my clients and before all of the classes I teach. This warm up covers most of the joints used within a full body workout. It begins with simple movements and progressing to body weight squats. Others could be included, but this will give you an idea of where to start.
I end every workout with static stretching. Static stretching involves holding a stretch for at least 30 seconds. Save these for after your workouts. *There are some exceptions to this rule, but they’ll have to be covered in another post.
Watch the video below to learn the Momentum Warm-Up. Please let me know what happens when you include them in your workouts in the comments below! Don’t be afraid to look silly. This is what high level athletes do. So you will be setting a great example!