I apologize for the Criss Cross reference. I thought it was necessary though to emphasis the importance of conducting a proper warm-up before any exercise routine. What better way to do that than to make reference to a one hit wonder rap duo from my youth.
As much as I would love to sit and discuss hip hop culture from the late 80’s and early 90’s with you I’ll spare you the pain and instead make you suffer through this post about warming up properly (How’d you like that little pun right there 🙂 )
Why warming up is more important than your actual workout
Warming up actually is more important than your actual workout. Long story short, how are you suppose to get in consistent workouts in if you’re laid up in bed with your back thrown out, walking around holding the back of your thighs with pulled hammy’s, or a busted up shoulder that you can’t lift over your head? Warming up properly should be emphasized at the beginning of each of your scheduled workouts and not rushed through by any means.
Simple stretching (static stretching) before your routine is not quite enough to prepare you for a serious sprint session or a day of picking up heavy stuff and putting it back down again repeatedly. We actually want to work up a pretty good sweat and elevate the heart rate a little bit. Honestly, it may even feel a little bit harder than your regularly scheduled routine for the day.
The problem with regular static stretching is that is usually does more harm than good. According to researchers at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York static stretching actually weakens muscle for up to 30 minutes when performed before workouts. This little nugget is actually backed by a recent study conducted at the University of Las VEGAS baby!
Athletes that underwent static stretching before intense strength training sessions were actually 30% weaker than when no stretching was conducted at all. I don’t know about you but I want to be as strong as possible. Regular static stretching can also lead to injuries. For example, if one leg is stretched more than the other your central nervous system can rebel. While Limitless365 is all for rebellion, not when we are trying to workout. The rebellion can lead to muscular imbalances before training which can than lead to serious injuries. Save the static stretching for POST-WORKOUTS.
Benefits to a Beast Mode warm-up
Beast mode warm-up is also known as a dynamic warm-up. I just happen to think beast mode sounds way cooler and definitely more badass.
A properly designed warm-up should loosen muscle and tendons, increase range of motion, and generate a little sweat due to a small increase in body heat.
I most often see people warming up with some light walking on a treadmill, maybe an easy job, and that damn static stretching we referred to early. A proper beast mode warm-up will do the following.
- Prevent injuries
- Wake up our central nervous system
- Increase flexibility and range of motion
- Provide an energy boost for our workout to come
- Increases blood flow through the muscles
- Increases oxygen uptake to the muscles as well as nutrient delivery.
- Helps with mental preparation before exercise
Ok dude, just tell me what I do
Ok, ok, just keep your pants on. I’m getting there.
A proper beast mode warm-up will actually vary depending on what our training routine looks like for the day. However there are a few consistent movements we will stick with. Try to stick with them in the order that follows.
Foam rolling: Is a simple process that allows us to use our own body weight to apply pressure and assist in releasing tension. Anyone new to foam rolling should start with a less dense foam roller as it can be a bit of a painful experience the first few times. If you are a bit of a masochist and can endure some uncomfortibility I would suggest making or picking up a high density foam roller. You’ll want to focus on rolling out the long muscle groups like your calves, adductors (or inner thigh), quadriceps, and IT band. When rolling out these muscle groups you will want to focus on long, slow, and deliberate strokes.
Smaller muscle groups of the lower body also need to be paid attention to. The TFL, hip rotators, and butt cheeks should be rolled out with quick short strokes or static pressure.
5-10 minutes of rolling out before intense exercise is sufficient in order to loosen up any tight or sore muscles. Focus on the lower body but do not neglect the low and upper back. Any spots that feel sore or tight should be rolled out.
Cardiovascular work: The cardiovascular work you choose to do for your warm-up should be specific to the type of cardiovascular exercise you are performing that day. If you are rowing, than row. Running, than run. Jumping rope, than jump rope. 5-10 good minutes of this will do the trick. Work at about 50% effort and mix in a few short higher intensities that last about 10-20 seconds every so often. Just enough to elevate heart rate a little bit and work up a small sweat. Not enough to create a stink-fest but just enough to make it look like you are working really hard.
Dynamic movement: Some solid body weight movements like air squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and supermans, as well as arm circles, leg kicks, trunk rotations, neck movements, and toe touches should do the trick. Perform 5-10 repetitions of each exercise in a circuit like fashion 2-3 times.
Specific movement: The last part to warming up like a beast is start with the exact exercise you plan on beginning your routine with. You will want to use about 50% of the weight you plan to start with. So if you are starting with a bench press and you plan on beginning with 100# you will want to start you rearm-up with 50#. Perform a few reps. Rest 20-30 seconds while you increase the weight slightly. Knock out a few more reps. Continue this until you feel like your body is ready to roll. DO NOT add to much weight or perform to many reps as you will want to save a little gas in the tank.
Damn man! That’s a shit ton of warming up: Simma down now, simma down. I know it is quit a bit of warming up. If you are pretty efficient you should be able to knock this out in about 15-20 minutes.
If you are pressed for time or do not like warming up that much than don’t! But make sure you are limber enough and your body is primed to perform and avoid injury. One way to do this would be to possibly skip one section that is outlined, roll-out and conduct the cardiovascular parts in around 2-3 minutes each. Or just run through 1-2 circuits on the dynamic section.
It’s up to you, be the judge. Every body (get it) is different. Some need a longer warm-up. Some not so much. Play around with it. See how you feel. If you are staying injury free, performing at a high level, continually making gains, and feeling fantastic on a daily basis than you are probably doing something right. This is just a brief template of some things you should consider before starting an exercise routine.
If you held my arm behind my back I would definitely make sure you get the dynamic warm-up and specific movement warm-up in. Foam rolling can be conducted after your workout or anytime during the day when time permits.
Now go do something awesome!