Warm ups have been an important part of any training program almost forever. Warm ups have also evolved since the classic “just go for a 10 minutes jog” that most coaches and trainers used to recommend 20 years ago. I do realize that it’s still common practice by highly uneducated personal trainers and coaches around the world, but I’m not going to get into this…
Mobility exercises, activation exercises, movement pattern training, dynamic stretching, foam rolling and the dozen of others soft-tissue work modalities are usually some of the components we can include in a good warm up. Depending on your own situation, it might not be possible to include all of the above, and in fact, for some it might be possible to include only one or two. The amount of time you spend with each client or athlete is going to dictate what your warm up is going to look like. But it doesn’t mean that your warm up should take 30 minutes when you have more time with your clients and athletes. The reason I say this is because there are many different components (as I mentioned above) that can fit into your warm up and it’s easy to get caught trying to include too much, and your warm up routine might end up taking forever to perform. The warm up is essential to improve range of motion, increase blood flow to the muscles, increase heart rate and body temperature and decrease tension in stiff muscles. But it’s also called a warm up. It shouldn’t take half the time of your total session. You want to choose the things that are going to be the most bang for your buck, get it done and be ready to attack your training.
Here’s the way I structure my warm ups in order to make them as effective as possible without taking forever:
- Self soft-tissue work: 5 min- Working on tight areas, usually 4-5 different areas (might different ones every day, depending on how I feel)
- Specifc warm up: 3-4 min- this is the time where I work on personal weaknesses or corrective work (this can include FMS correctives, correct a dysfunctional movement pattern, etc). Currently I use this time to do PRI breathing drills.
- General warm up: 3-4 min- this will include more general movement patterns that will help improve dynamic range of motion and body temperature at the same time (combination of lunges, inverted reach, push ups, etc)
- Movement preparation: 3-4 min (if needed)- if I’m going to do any kind of dynamic work like sprints or plyometrics I will always include some sort of skips, cariocas, shuffle, back pedal, hops, etc. If I only lift, I’ll usually just skip that part.
Following this model, a good, complete warm up would take you about 14-15 minutes (10-12 if you don’t do any movement prep). It really covers everything and it’s not too long!
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