We all love simple, short answers to the questions we have. But unfortunately, when it comes to many Fitness/Health/Medical questions, there are rarely simple, short, definitive, one-size-fits-all answers. I wish there were but such is life. The main reason for this is that we are all uniquely different. What works for one of us might not work for all of us. And what seems to work right this moment, might not continue to work so well down the line. Things change, especially our bodies and even more, our lives. The key is to focus on where each of us finds ourselves at any point in time. There are answers to most of our questions but are likely to be found only through patience, perseverance and putting in some serious work. And that work typically makes most of us better than we were before, anyhow.February 13, 2015
Ideas for a better warmup:
THE “Old” WARMUP (5-15min): Most people just hop on a treadmill or stationary bike for anywhere from 5-20 minutes to “warmup”. This works but it’s most likely not as effective as other options. Guys who plan on lifting “heavy” weights often ONLY warmup by doing light warmup-sets of their chosen exercise(s) for the day. Again, this also works but considering the fact that most of us know we need more stretching in our lives, including at least a few simple stretches in the warmup might be more optimal. Often guys are also scared to stretch before they lift because, “rumor has it”, you won’t get as big and strong. While it may be true that doing a marathon stretching session before lifting might be counterproductive for some, including other “types” of stretching has proven to actually increase strength & performance when done correctly. Lastly, some folks do their “cardio” first before lifting “weights”, i would assume in hopes of losing some unwanted body fat. Again, this is probably not the best idea UNLESS you are primarily seeking to increase your endurance for a specific event, competition or occupation. But for everyone else, i don’t recommend it. Ever, really. Normally, too much “cardio” before “lifting weights” interferes with… you guessed it, the weights. (And just to clarify, “weights”, “lifting”, “lifting weights” “strength machines”, “strength training”, “resistance training”, “body weight training”, “calisthenics”, “hard yoga”, “hard pilates”, etc are ALL basically the same thing!) “The primary purpose of resistance training is to get stronger, and for some, also build muscle. Both these things can also indirectly aid with fat loss. But keep in mind, getting stronger and building muscle both require INTENSITY to get the desired results. So don’t empty your fuel tank too early by doing too much in the warmup. If your goal is fat-loss, getting stronger or packing on more muscle, try including a short, intense 10-minute “interval session” after “weights” (aka “a finisher”). I’d also recommend doing your longer “cardio” workouts or group classes on another day, all by themselves, if you have the time available.
THE “New” WARMUP (5-10) So here we go. Here are some new things to try as your “warmup”. First and foremost, correct breathing is essential and often overlooked. This means breathing deeply from your diaphragm, through your nose. Keep this in mind as you warmup and proceed to the rest of your workout. I often tell people to do all movements at a pace that allows you sync your breathing with each repeat of that movement. Start your warmup by massaging some of the major muscles regions (back, legs, hips, calves) with a Foam Roller. (This is what most professional athletes do.)Most gyms have them. Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc all sell them for $30 or less). Then do a few safe Dynamic Stretches (aka “moving stretches”). Google this. Then perform a few easy body-weight warmup movements, focusing on stabilizing your spine and moving your many joints about (especially the hip & arm sockets). To summarize, you could very quickly Foam Roll 2-3 major areas of your body, do 2-3 full body stretches and 2-3 major body-weight movements (easy pushups, easy pulling & easy squatting), and be done in less than 10 minutes. You could even include 1-2 “core” exercises near the end or even devote some of the time to practice a new exercise (with no weight or a light weight) that maybe needs some practice. If you really want to hit everything, perform all the primitive movement patterns every time you warmup. (Check out any of Mark Verstegen’s Books). Research all this stuff! Educate yourself. It’s free. Keep things simple. Many things could work. Just keep this in mind, the purpose of a “warmup” is to get you prepared/ramped-up for the harder work ahead, not beat you done prematurely. The key is always to maximize your time, this should include not wasting any precious time doing useless sh*t during a warmup. You may want extend your warmup longer if you are sore or dealing with an injury, have specific “corrective exercises” you know you need to include, it’s really cold outside or you just woke up. We all know we need to stretch more, etc. Include these type things in your warmup and you can always get a lot done in each session, regardless of time. Density is the key.
p.s. Keep things simple. Always. I know i mentioned a lot of things, and that was just the silly warmup. lol. The reality is that the details of exercise and programming can easily start to bog any mind down. So don’t let it. Start by including just one new thing next time your workout. Build on that over time. The point is to move more, move better. There will probably never be a “perfect” way. And while some will waste time searching tirelessly for that, you should be out there getting work done. Time is of the essence. Ask for help if you need it. Work hard. Play hard. Enjoy.