Updated: Dec 15, 2020
How Are You Warming Up?
Many of us were taught that warming up involves some sort of jog then 10 or so minutes of static stretching, or “in-place stretching,” where you are holding the stretch for an extended period of time. Think elementary school P.E. class: sitting and reaching for your toes, quad pull, knee hug hold, etc. Research has shown that static stretching may actually decrease power output in the speed and explosiveness of movement and thus, compromise the effectiveness of the movement.
It makes sense. Why would you sit on the ground and touch your toes when no exercise in your workout routine is even remotely similar to this stretch? Taking it a step further, if we are looking for our hamstrings to produce power/speed… then stretching our hamstrings makes even less sense. If I want to shoot a rubber band across the room with a lot of power, I want that rubber band to be very tight so that it can produce the most power. If I have a loose rubber band, that thing isn’t going anywhere.
The main goal of a warmup is to prepare your body for the workout. If you are not doing movements that mimic what you would do in a workout, you are doing yourself a disservice in terms of the workout’s effectiveness.
Warmups should align with the goals of your workout and reflect what you hope to obtain from the exercise. Enter dynamic warmups. Dynamic warmups can be defined as “a very active warmup protocol where one is in constant or intermittent motion for a prolonged period of time with the objective of producing thermal and neuromuscular changes in the individual that prepares them for the upcoming work.” The objectives of a dynamic warmup are as follows:
Temperature elevation: Increasing our core body temperature increases muscle viscosity and tendon elasticity. As a weightlifter, this is going to allow you to not only sit deeper into your squat but also to be able to load more weight on the bar.
Nervous system excitation: Ever thought about the neurological aspect of working out? If you break it down biologically, the first thing that has to happen in order to make a muscle work is that you have to THINK about making the muscle work. Thus, a “warmup set” serves as an adequate neurological primer by introducing your body to the stimulus that is the focus of the training session. For example, a sprinter may warm up with build offs or falling starts before they sprint out of the blocks. Another example would be on a day you are front squatting, warming up with goblet squats and an empty barbell prior to your 5x5 working sets. Myofascial release (think foam rolling, lacrosse ball, massage, dry needling) can also serve as a neurological primer in preparing your body for a workout, so incorporating a few minutes of foam rolling on top of your dynamic warmup routine could be highly effective.
Dynamic Warmups as an Analysis Tool: Dynamic warmups are also useful to the individual, or to the coach/personal trainer, in seeing how your body feels that day. At Prime, we often use a Rate of Perceived Exertion scale (RPE) instead of a % of a max lift or movement. This gives the physical therapist or coach the ability to change and modify the weight/intensity based on how you’re feeling on that given day. If your dynamic warm-up is feeling tough because we got a bad night’s sleep, then we absolutely will change the day’s program in order to meet you where you’re at.
Time for Pre or Rehabilitation Exercises: Here at Prime Performance, we don’t want you to come in for physical therapy every day of the week. We expect that you are working out on your own, so many times we will prescribe exercises, personalized to your lifestyle, to assist in getting you back to 100%. These exercises serve as a great warmup for your daily workouts outside of physical therapy.
An example dynamic warmup for a leg heavy day at the gym:
Foam roll for a few minutes then hop on the bike or rower and see how your legs feel and elevate your core temperature.
Lateral shuffle, high skips, broad jumps, hockey bounds, single leg hops, air squats, etc. to elevate core temperature and excite the nervous system.There are many things you could do here- just get creative and move your body through different planes of motion (side to side, forward/backward, up/down)
Hip Rehab exercises
Kettlebell swings and Goblet squats to warm up the posterior chain and introduce load.
5X5 squats, increasing in weight each time.
Simply put, incorporating a dynamic warmup into your fitness routine just means: move before you MOVE and move in a way that’s similar to what you’re about to do. Developing a warmup routine can be a daunting task, but here at Prime Performance we find creative and scientifically backed ways to give you exercises that align with your goals. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org today to schedule your evaluation. Take the first step to get out of pain and reach your full potential!