We all have busy lives theses days. Working 40+ hours per week doesn’t leave you too much time to get stuff done. What usually happens is we try to condense things whenever we can. There’s a number of ways this may affect your training time in the gym but why not shave some time off somewhere else (where your physical health doesn’t depend on it). Do you ever head to the gym wanting to get in and out as fast as you can? Maybe you’re favorite show is on tonight and you haven’t figured out how to use your PVR still. You think, “hmm… I’ll skip the warm up and get things going right away”. The workout is over and you feel fine. You’re thinking from now on you maybe can get away with skipping the warm up every time. You may want to think twice. When it comes down to it, sparing 5 to 10 minutes for a proper warm up is going to help your body and your training progress more than you may think.
HERE’S SOME REASONS WHY YOU WARM UP:
- Improve alignment and posture
- Prepare the fluid and cartilage in your joints
- Get your temperature up which will warm up your muscles and increase flexibility
- Prep your nervous system for the demand you’re about to place on your body
Basically, you want to square things up, get loose, warm and prepare your body to run, jump and/or lift heavy things. Warming up will not only get you moving smoother and more efficiently, but will also help decrease the risk of injury. It’s a win win.
Formatting Your Warm Up:
For most people it’s a good idea to do some foam rolling before anything. Most of us end up settling our bodies into an unnatural posture for hours and hours during our work day. With foam rolling you’re attempting to loosen up the connective tissue (fascia) that attaches, stabilizes and separates muscles and your other internal organs. Think of it as the warm up to the warm up. The loser the fascia is the more efficiently and comfortably you’ll move during the dynamic portion of the warm up.
After foam rolling, you could do a combination of activation drills and dynamic movements. You’ll want to make sure the muscles you’re about to target are firing off properly. Additionally, it’s good to run through some dynamic stretches/mobility drills so your muscles and joints are prepared for the ranges of motion that will be expected. Here’s an example of what to consider if you were going for a lower body work out.
- Foam roll
- Activation/Dynamic/Mobility: Glute bridges, Cat camels, Thoracic rotations, Shoulder taps, High knees and butt kicks, Spider man with hip lift and reach, Over unders, Lateral lunges
- Light sets ramping up to desired weight
There are numerous possibilities to consider for your warm up. Someone training at an athletic level will likely be doing a lot more specific warm ups than the average gym goer. But an athlete’s body has to perform at a competitive level. Average gym goers on the other hand can get away with doing a pretty generalized warm up routine.
If you need to speed through a quick warm up, one thing to consider is using some passive warm up techniques. Wear a sweater, drink a warm beverage, use an external means to increase your body temperature and keep yourself warm. If for some reason you can’t do a thorough combo of activation and mobility, try to at least hop on a treadmill or bike and get a bit of a sweat going.
Next time you’re trying to condense your time, consider salvaging 5 – 10 minutes from somewhere else in your day. Your body will be thankful!