Last week I touched on my favorite warm-up routine for the bench press. One of the most common questions I get is related to static stretching, its role in warming up prior to a training session or athletic event and basically how to “properly” warm up. I place properly in quotations because many people are disillusioned when it comes to performing a sound and ideal warm-up. In light of this, I wanted to spend this week discussing the best way to structure and progress through your warm-ups. This template is beneficial for athletes, washed up gym goers, and anyone in between.
As a preface to the remainder of this article I would like to give a brief outline of how a warm-up should progress. Generally, I would advise for a full body foam roll prior to the beginning of every warm-up. Foam rolling can help work out and specific problem areas throughout the body. From here, I usually breakdown my warm-ups as follows:
Static Stretching/Mobility Work For Desired Areas
Plain and simple, this is the area of the warm-up where I like to either work on certain problem areas where there are mobility restrictions present, or simply target the muscles that will be used extensively during the training session. For example, if I have a group of athletes they will each have their own static stretches that target areas they specifically need work on. Otherwise, if you were to be working the lower body, for example, you could target your hamstrings, hip flexors, external rotators, quadriceps and ankles. The same can be said for the days where the upper body is your focus for your training.
As I have mentioned many times before, the core plays an extensive role in bracing the spine while your extremities are in motion. So, activating your core is extremely important if you desire to have an effective workout. Exercises such as planks, farmer’s walks variations and pallof presses are great to ignite your core and prepare it to support you throughout many different ranges of motion.
General Activation (Hips, Shoulders, Glutes etc.)
Essentially, stability is the ability to maintain mobility throughout an entire range of motion. Activation exercises not only help to work on this, but they also help us progress from the static stretches we have just done to begin our warm-up. I always tell my athletes that static stretching is okay to do prior to training or games as long as you properly activate after. So, exercises that require mobility through ranges of motion for your hips, shoulders, and glutes are a great place to start.
Rehearsal of Movement Patterns
Basically, this is where we perform a basic movement that corresponds to the primary movement we are training that day. Is your session centered on the bench press? Great, perform a set of pushups to rehearse a pressing variation. Getting in some barbell squats or deadlifts? Be sure to dedicate this phase to bodyweight squats or kettle bell swings. The goal is to now use the mobility and activation we have focused on and begin to phase it into movement patterns.
Central Nervous System Activation
I have actually written a previous article on my favorite nervous system activation exercises, so go check that out if you need some guidance here. Basically, this is the last portion of our warm-up right before we begin our training or athletic event. Our goal is to engage the nervous system and have us firing on all cylinders before we begin our lift or game. A sprint, jump or throw are the most ideal.
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Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.