Warming up for exercise is essential and something I do with every client I have. I think its fair to say most people think they warm up before they exercise, but are people really warming up? Or are they just wasting their time?
Traditional warm ups tend to be one of three; The first includes some kind of stretch for every major muscle group, a quick play with your MP3 play list and off you go. The second is 5 minutes on the cross trainer and off you go and the 3rd is nothing.
I think they’re all wrong (you know me well enough by now :).
Here’s what I consider a good warm up and something everyone should be doing before a workout starts. Firstly stretching every major muscle group is pointless, by the time you finish your last stretch the first one has gone cold again, its also proven that stretching a muscle before exercise depletes strength in said muscle immediately after (something we could do without). Secondly going on a cross trainer for 5 minutes in the hope that it will raise your heart rate warm your body and avoid injury is like farting into a hurricane… it won’t make any difference.
When a personal training client comes to the gym I put them on a treadmill and get them to walk up hill at a moderate pace for around 5 minutes. Why? Because I can take this time to ask them how they are, how they have been eating and sleeping and if they have picked up any injuries. More importantly this gives the client 5 minutes to get themselves in the frame of mind to have a workout. You cant go from 0 – 100mph without a build up. By the time the 5 minutes is up the client is accustomed to the gym setting and ready to have a workout.
I then pass my clients a 4ft bamboo stick, and my clients begin the mobilization work that we do at the beginning of every session. We take the spine into every plane of movement to warm up the back, we practice dead lifts, squats, bent over rows and over head presses for these reasons:
1) The exercises will mobilize the ligaments tendons and muscles ready to perform the actions they will likely be facing that session; and
2) The client can work on their form.
3) The client can engage in some mental reversal of the exercises they will be facing.
The last point is the most important. If a football player comes on as substitute and has not been warming up on the sidelines by kicking a ball about with a team mate his first touch will likely be very bad. This is because his brain is not warmed up for the exercise he needs to perform, although his body is!
This is a crucial area that people get wrong, you can’t expect your body to perform complex exercise patterns without practising them with light weight before. After the bamboo stick warm up my personal training clients will be taken to their first resistance exercise of the day, again the client will perform the exercise with little to no weight for one full set to sufficiently warm the muscles ligaments and tendons. Then we’re off.
All of that added together will take just as long if not less time than stretching every muscle part and having a 5 minute run, and it will leave your body and mind perfectly dialled in for a great, safe, effective workout. You can’t expect yourself to know these things, but when you work with me I will take care of all of them for you. Remember I offer a completely free, no obligation discussion so if you want to talk more about warming up, or about exercise in general, please do get in touch with me.
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