Can’t Handle the Heat… Get Outta the Kitchen
The simplicity of a good warm up
What is the point of a warm up? How should you warm up? And why you should be doing it?
Warming Up: Part 1 – The General Warm Up
There are a number of different interpretations of what warming up involves. Some people opt to jump on the rower and crank out a fast 500m before a squat session, in order to get the blood flowing. Others like to stretch their muscles as much as humanly possible in order to feel a little more flexible. And some people like to flop around on a foam roller for 10mins trying not to fall asleep. While none of these commonly seen warm up routines are particularly good, an optimal warm up process might be found in a combination of the above.
So what are we trying to achieve in our warm up? As the idea suggests you are aiming to increase muscle temperature to improve their ability to contract forcefully when lifting heavy things. But is simply increasing muscle temperature enough to enable you to perform your workout optimally?
Here’s a hint; no!
A warm up that only increases muscle temperature does not allow for any increase in joint range on motion. It may assist in reducing muscle tightness and increase muscular range, but if your joints are tight this warm up style will not suffice.
Let’s break this down a little bit. As I already mentioned the squat we will continue down that rabbit hole.
What position does our body need to be able to perform in order to squat with a bar on our back?
From the top:
- enough shoulder and thoracic spine mobility to have a neutral spinal position with both hands on the bar
- our hip needs to have a large amount of flexion and external rotation to be able to hit a deep squat
- we need core stability to maintain a straight back
- and lastly a large amount of ankle range to allow our knees to travel forward so that we can have even weight distribution on our feet in the hole
How do you achieve the required range in each of these positions to be able to squat efficiently?
The first step is to move through your available range of motion. By taking all major joints used in the exercise joint through their full range you can loosen any minor restrictions, allow joint surfaces to glide over each other and release surrounding muscle tension; thus increasing range. This process also provides an awareness of any restrictions that may require extra mobility work. An approach similar to this can be applied to any major exercise, consider the joints used in that particular movement and ensure you move it through its full range, before you use it.
So your general warm up for a squat might include; shoulder circles, thoracic extensions, cat/camel, leg swings, quadruped hip circles and an ankle pulse. #SuperSimpleStuff.
Now this is not a full warm up prescription, it is the beginning; the minimum; your starting point. It will not be adequate if you have a specific mobility restriction, but it is a start and it is a damn sight better than walking in and starting to squat straight away. It may also prevent you from waking up the next day feeling like someone jumped on your back.
So there it is, a start, stay tuned for the next part of warming up, progressing to your working weight! 😉