Warm Ups 1: Purpose
This is the first in a series about warm ups. Who’s excited?!?! No one? Uncool, guys. Uncool.
If you’re like me, you hate warming up. You find that it cuts into your badass time and that’s super annoying. How are you ever going to throw a car at a pack of zombies if you’re spending all of your workout time doing inch worms or foam rolling your hip flexors?
There’s a saying in the gym: a good warm up equals a good workout. And though I hate warming up, I am a huge subscriber to that concept. If you skip or over-shorten your warm up, your workout is probably going to suffer. You’ll be tight, you’ll be slow (which means you’ll have less power), and you’ll be more likely to hurt yourself. Case in point: at 30(ish), I decided to join an indoor soccer league. Nevermind that I hadn’t played in over a decade and wasn’t in soccer-shape at all, I also didn’t bother to warm up before my first game. The first time I swung my leg back to kick the ball, I pulled the shit out of my quad. Being the extremely tough (read: idiotic) woman I am, I kept playing and then sat in an ice-bath when I got home. While freezing and cursing myself, I realized all those high knees and butt kicks we did before our high school soccer games had a purpose.
So let’s lace up those shoes and settle in for our warm ups.
The purpose of the warm up is twofold.
Increase your body temperature. When you increase your body temperature, you increase the blood-flow to your muscles. Blood provides your muscles with the stuff they need to create energy, so the better your blood-flow, the more energy you can create and the more likely you’ll be to throw that car.
Prepare your body for the work you’re about to do. By increasing mobility and muscle activation, you’re helping your body get ready for your upcoming workout. There are a few ways to do this and I’ll cover each in more detail in future posts. For now, it’s enough to know that you want to move the joints and muscles you’ll be using so that you don’t hurt yourself.
A good warm up should include most* (if not all) of the following:
1. Self-Myofascial Release (Foam Rolling, Acu-Mobility Balls, etc.)
2. Mobility (Static and/or dynamic stretching)
3. Muscle activation/movement prep
*No time for all that? A short warm up should at least include dynamic stretching and muscle activation/movement prep. You’ll be less likely to hurt yourself, but you won’t move as efficiently and you probably won’t correct any imbalances.
Come back next week to learn about the art of self-myofascial release.