With the many things that we have gone over throughout the past couple weeks when it comes to lifting weights, nutrition, and working out in general, we now have some knowledge of what to do but how do we apply it? Today, we will be talking about how we start these workouts and make them the most effective we can.
When going into the gym to start your workout, many times you will see people do one of two things: they will either head straight to a cardio machine for roughly 5-10 minutes to warm up their legs and get blood moving or they will go straight into their workouts and start adding on weight. The first option will allow for some warming up of the legs and will elevate the heart rate, but it will not allow for the muscles being worked to reach their max elasticity that the individual has and then will also not allow for time to improve upon that elasticity, which would directly help in better mobility, improved circulation, and also better range of motion. The second option will put you at a greater risk of injury for the same reasons, along with not allowing time for the muscles to warm up effectively.
For example, you should thing of your muscles like you should a car. When it is super cold outside and there is ice on your car and on the road, you won’t immediately turn the car on and put it in drive, you will need to wait for the engine to warm up and prime up before you start moving. Your muscles work the same way, making sure that you stretch out the muscles and give them time to warm up will make sure that they work to the best of their ability. So, now that we have this knowledge, what should a good warm up look like
As we have talked about in a previous blog post and will go over more in detail later on, foam rolling will allow for the muscles to elongate at start to take the knots out of the muscles from the beginning so that they are lengthened and now just need to be stretched and then also warmed up. Along with allowing for the knots to be taken out, foam rolling will also help with circulation and promote blood flow early on to make sure that we have an ample supply to warm up the specific muscles that we are trying to work on a given day.
This is probably one of the most important things that we need to do when we start to work out. Personally, I like to pair static and dynamic stretching into my warm up so that I target multiple things. The first thing that I will try to target is the static stretching, or basically stretching without any movement involved. This would include touching toes, butterfly stretch, arm stretches where we hold in one position. The reason we start here is the same as for foam rolling, we want our muscles to be at a good length BEFORE we start working them out, but we make sure not to push past our comfort into new flexibility as we have not warmed up yet. Now that we have stretched there, this is where we move into dynamic stretching or basically stretching with movement. This would include lunges with a rotation, high knees, butt kicks, karaoke, things where we are elevating our heart and getting blood moving in our body. We save this for last so that we go into the workout with an elevated heart rate, elongated muscles, and the ability to do any movement needed with good form and with optimal results and effort.
While we have warmed up all of our muscles and are ready to be able to move effectively, we have different exercises in our workout that we have not done yet that day, so we need to make sure they we do not jump into heavy weight too early and run the risk of messing up the form and hurting ourselves. What we recommend is to take a set or two to warm up the body in any particular exercise and to really take a light load to focus on the range of motion, the form of the movement, along with making sure that you focus on the muscles that you are working. For example, if you are wanting to do a bench press, take about 1-2 sets where you just do the bar or maybe add a little weight and go for 10-12 reps just focusing on those 3 key things so that you are ready when the weight gets heavier.
There are a lot of things that go into making sure that we are warmed up and that we can move effectively in order for our workouts to promote great results while minimizing the risk of injury. These may seem like a lot of things to consider, but at the end of the day they start to become easier as we start to do it each and every day. What may seem like 5-10 minutes of the actually workout being the warm up, you will slowly start to see the prolonged benefits of the way that you feel, move, and how effective your workouts truly are once this model is adopted into your warm up. As professionals, we look at all of these components as well and determine which works best depending on what the workout looks like that day, so allowing for someone to have that structure for you only alleviates the stress of remembering what to do so you can focus on giving 110% effort.
Hopefully you found this blog post to be informative and you learned a lot from it. On Friday, we will take a deeper dive into foam rolling to look at the benefits that it offers along with what foam rolling should look like for each major muscle group, when to do it, how long it should be performed, and the different tools that you can use when it comes to foam rolling.