I write a lot of workouts for a lot of people. I’ve trained and lifted weights or done martial arts with many people. I even advise a lot of people. One thing is common – the ones in better body ‘shape’ (e.g., effective mobility, flexibility, fewer chronic issues, and old nagging injuries) are the ones that warm up properly every time they go to train or lift.
I’m not sure if it’s the broscience, the macho attitude, or the ignorance, but I only meet people who shrug and say ‘sometimes, not really’ when asked about their warm up in a weights environment.
YOU. MUST. WARM. UP.
I can’t stress this enough.
^^ Note: This is not warm up
Why Warm Up?
Your lifestyle (read job) is probably killing you. When you warm up before you train, you ease your body into activity and movement that is likely 100% away from sitting at your desk or holding your phone to your ear with your shoulder.
Warming up lubricates your joints, pumps blood around your body, and accelerates your heart rate. As you age, this becomes even more important, as your likelihood of getting hurt increases and the suppleness of your body falls. The more blood flowing around your body, the better the delivery of nutrients required for energy production. Finally, it’s a great way to get focused on your workout. Sportsmen often talk about being focused or ‘in the zone.’ Warming up is essential to prime your mind for the task ahead.
Warming up dramatically reduces the chances of injury to muscles or connective tissues – you can warm up effectively in just a couple of minutes. If you have mobility or foam rolling to do, now is a great time to do it! I saw something in the Middle East that I hoped I’d never see in a gym again – people walk up to the dumbbells, pick up some light ones, wave them around like they want to be butterflies, and then go and lift their weights. Madness. (See video above if you have not).
A Simple, Effective Warm Up:
Taking just a few minutes, start by walking around and rotating your arms for about 20-30 seconds. Then, break out into a light jog, switching between running forwards and lateral sidesteps. This is a primer if you like – now move onto more specific body parts; for example, jumping jacks or star jumps are a fantastic, safe, whole body warm up. Next, some lunges or warrior pose stretches will get your hips and glutes firing. Finally, some easy, good-depth bodyweight squats will help mobilize your lower body. You’re now probably pretty warm and can move to do whatever it was you were training for.
As an example, my athletic warm up base is as follows, but changes depending on what exercises I am performing or where I have soreness:
Walking Hip Stretch
Walking Quad Stretch
Thoracic extensions from warrior pose and over a foam roller
Alternate Glute Bridge
External Rotations for shoulders
Foam roll adductors, piriformis, and hamstrings