Warming up in the gym usually consists of 5 minutes on an elliptical machine or treadmill followed by a few arm stretches, and then straight into your first set of exercise. This is usually why you feel stiff and slow until about half way through your workout when it is too late.
Good Warm Up
To warm up correctly you are looking to:
- increase core temperature
- increase pliability of soft tissue
- improve joint mobility and stability
- increase athleticism
- target movement restrictions
- “switch on” CNS
- groove movement patterns
SMR (Soft Muscle Release): This is done through using Foam Rollers or Lacrosse Balls and getting down on the floor or against a wall and releasing your muscles. Foam Rolling is not just for your legs but can be done on your glutes, upper back, lats, neck and chest.
Mobility: Going through movement patterns will improve your muscle elasticity and open up your movement potential. So if you are going to do squats, going through quad and hip flexor mobility before getting into the rack will help with your potential depth or ease of movement.
Activation: Cementing movement patterns before you start training is a good way to ‘revise’ your technique before starting. Doing this will switch on the required muscle groups for the exercise, but you will also need to activate the secondary muscle groups commonly overlooked, i.e warming up your upper back (scapula) before bench pressing.
To reach your full potential in a workout, it is vital to warm up correctly. Finding a routine that suits you is individual to each person, as everyone has different restrictions. Identifying your weaknesses in movement will determine what you need to be doing in your warm up routine.