In the first installment of this series, I broke down the 4 parts of an effective strength and conditioning program: a thorough warm up, power work, strength training, and, of course, conditioning, done in that order.
For most people, a warm up consists of a few arm circles and a 5 minute jog on the treadmill, but shortchanging it like that will literally decrease the effectiveness of your workout, while increasing the chances of getting hurt! Instead, think of your warm up as the place where your workout actually begins. This is where you make yourself bullet proof, and prepares you for a killer training session where you can lift more weight and be more explosive.
Think about it this way: when you walk into the gym, and you are struggling to do bodyweight squats without rounding over or pushups without your elbows and shoulders cracking, how are you supposed to load up a bar and squat or bench? How are you supposed to jump high and run fast when you’re shoulders and hips feel like they are jammed up?
Warm ups aren’t sexy, but they are a necessary part to your training session. Here’s what you’re looking to accomplish during this time:
- Get your mind ready for an ass kicking training session
- Prepare your body by improving joint range of motion and muscle flexibility, which will also decrease your risk of injury not just today but moving forward
- Actually get your body fired up to do some work
So how do we do this most effectively? First, we use a foam roller to work out any sticky spots in our muscles. You can roll any muscles, but focusing on these 4 areas will go a long way to getting you feeling and moving better. Try to get about 10 passes over each area below, but spend a little more time if any feel especially rough.
After using the roller, it’s time to stretch the muscles out that you just massaged. These stretches provide a lot of bang for your buck, but feel free to spend any extra time on any particular problem areas. Hold each stretch for 5 deep belly breaths and then switch to the other side.
After stretching the muscles, it’s time to move your joints through a full range of motion before slinging around the iron. Do these drills for 5-10 reps each. Be sure to do them in a controlled manner to get the benefits!
At this point, your muscles are limber, your joints are loose, and you’re mind should be ready to attack your training session! A good warm up shouldn’t take all day, but the 10-15 minute investment will lead to a better workout, reduce your chances of getting injured, and work on all the flexibility issues that you may have.
Train With Intent!