3 Key Exercises You NEED in Your Exercise Warm Up
Is your warm up routine the right one for you? Is it specific to the sport or activity that you are about to do or is it the same for everything? Activity-specific warm up exercises will help you decrease your chances of becoming injured. Proper exercises will also help you keep doing the activities you love! So let’s dive into 3 key exercises.
First and foremost is foam rolling.
Foam rolling is becoming more and more popular, and yet I still see patients who have never heard of it. First, why foam roll instead of stretch. Even though this could be another entire blog, I’ll give you the nutshell version. Imagine a rope that was soaked down and frozen in a straight line, then someone comes along and whips the rope from one end to the other sending a wave down the line. What happens to the ice? It breaks and detaches from the rope! This is a very similar thing that happens when you deform the muscle structure with a foam roller, you mobilize the muscle without stretching it. Think of the ice as adhesive material surrounding your muscle fibers and your muscle fibers are the rope. Secondly, invest in a good foam roller. Cheap foam rollers often don’t have a strong inner core, and if you’re using it as you’re supposed to, you may find yourself replacing it too often. So, invest in a good on off the bat, because you are about to become BFFs with it. Lastly, hit all the areas. Some people will avoid the overly tender areas. If you’ve never foam rolled before, then there will be some “grouchy” areas for sure. To be fair, you can over roll as well, so keep the tender areas to a minimum but don’t avoid them. Gradually increase the amount of pressure and the number of rolls each time you roll. And foam roll even on your non-active days. Maintaining your mobility is key to injury prevention.
Get your nervous system fired up!
Getting your nervous system ready for activity is very important. Your nerve endings in your muscles need to be firing on all cylinders to produce sufficient power and force to the muscles that are being used. This is part of both a physical and mental preparation. Activating the nervous system is also a great way to help solidify good movement habits. The more you practice a movement, the more your brain will continue to make sure that impulse pathway is working optimally. This may come in handy especially if you’re about to crush the weights at the gym. Coordination, stability, and balance are all benefits from properly activating your nervous system!
Warm up sets.
Warm up sets are often under appreciated, and these apply to all types of activity. Whether you’re about to go for a run or hit a max deadlift at the gym, you need to work up to your workload. If you’re running, walk for a few minutes before jumping into a run; after you’ve foam rolled and stretched of course. If you’re lifting, perform the appropriate amount of warm up sets before hitting your work weight. Too many times I’ve seen people put a 45lb weight on each side of the bar, do a couple squats and then just load it up! Your warm up set should be conservative in reps but you need to prep your body for what’s coming, not shock and awe. If your work weight on a squat is less than 135lbs and you’re not nursing any injury, I would warrant only one warm up set at 85 – 95lbs. If you’re work weight is over 150lbs, I would recommend 2 warm up sets, over 225lbs, 3 warm up sets, and over 315lbs 3 – 4 warm up sets. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not to fatigue muscle groups, it is to prep them. So, if you’re planning on 6 – 10 reps for your work weight, keep you warm up sets to 4 – 6 reps. If you’re going for a max, then gradually decrease the reps per warm up set so your last set is only 1 – 2 reps. This would be if your work set is a max rep or 2 rep set.
Begin working these 3 key warm ups into your training routine today. Give yourself the best possible advantage in increasing your physical performance and reduce your risk of injury at the same time. Warm-ups are just better for your body, they are vital in injury prevention so you can continue to do what you love!