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Why We Warm-Up

Craig Ansbach MS, CSCS

If you have ever played sports growing up, you have experienced warming up. Depending on what you did growing up, some warm-ups look much different than others. I remember the warm-up in high school PE consisted of static stretching and running a lap around the field every day. When I train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the warm-up usually consists of some jumping jacks, push-ups, and stretches. When you are not a part of organized sports or training with a coach, the warm-up is often left out and we just get right into the activity. One notable example is when we go for a run. Typically we show up to the trail, spend a few seconds stretching out the calves and hamstrings, and then start running.

The warm-up should be a staple in any exercise routine you partake in. The goal of the warm-up should be to prepare the body for the exercise it’s about to do, and in doing so it also reduces the risk of injuries. When I coach adults and athletes of all types, I always start them with a warm-up. While the warm-up may look different for each individual based on goals, the principles should be the same for everyone.

Basic Warmup

  1. Soft Tissue Work
    1. The goal of soft tissue work should be to create range of motion in the body by lengthening muscle tissue and increasing tissue temperature and blood flow. Soft tissue work can be done with many implements such as foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and message guns.
  1. Activation
    1. Activation is the process of priming the muscles used for the upcoming exercise and increasing the motor unit recruitment in the body.. Activation can be done through the use of mini-bands or light bodyweight drills.
  1. Dynamic Stretching
    1. The final step is to add dynamic movement that will actively take the body through a movement pattern. This helps by increasing the range of motion through patterns that will be needed. This is a short duration stretch, typically 2-5 seconds of holding at the end ranges.

By adding in these three elements before you workout, you will be better prepared for whatever activity you have in front of you. Your body and mind will be better prepared to perform and you will also reduce the risk of potential injuries. 

Simple Warm-Up

Next time you work out try this simple warm up before you get started: Videos in the links provided.

  1. Soft Tissue
  • Calves X 30 Seconds 
  • Quads X 30 Seconds 
  • Glutes X 30 Seconds 
  • Lats X 30 Seconds 
  1. Activation
  • Supine Bridges X 10
  • Supine Knee Drive X 5
  • Forward Walks X 10
  • Lateral Walks X 10
  1. Dynamic Stretching 
    • World’s Greatest Stretch X 5
    • Inchworms X 5
    • Single-Leg Deadlift X 5

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