Whether you’re preparing for 18 or a heavy lower body day in the weight room, the way you warm-up can dictate how the rest of your session unfolds. If you’re somebody that performs a stretch or two before taking some hacks on the driving range, or goes for a 5-minute run on the treadmill before squatting, you’re missing out on the important qualities a good warm-up can provide you.
Below, we’ve laid out four principles that are considered in every single warm-up prescribed through our programming. While the exercises used may change depending on the individual, these four rocks are always covered to ensure an optimal warm-up.
Elevate Core Temperature and Heart Rate
When it comes to preparing a warm-up series, our goal is to prime the body for the demands that it will be asked during a training session or competitive event. It’s never a good idea to hop into a demanding physical activity without some type of preparation.
In our case, we’ll prescribe 8 to 10 drills that will start with low-level movements and gradually progress to high-intensity motions. This is typically initiated with a couple of ground-based drills, followed by Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) for joints that will be used during the session, and capped off with more dynamic, multi-joint movements.
Regardless of your physical endeavors, it’s not ideal to jump into it ice cold. Move around, allow your joints to provide more degrees of freedom and good things will happen.
Address Movement Deficiencies to Improve Range of Motion
Our assessment process provides us with a ton of information in regards to the physical capabilities of each client we work with. It allows us to determine their strengths and weaknesses with movement, while giving us a strong foundation for how to attack their deficiencies.
We always look at the flexibility and mobility of individuals at each joint to determine the appropriate exercise selection for them. If you don’t understand the difference between flexibility and mobility, check out last week’s post.
The limitations we see through our evaluations allow us to create daily routines that fit the mobility goals of each person we work with individually. If you’re somebody that struggles with hip flexion, for example, we’re going to hammer movements that improve hip flexion consistently until it improves.
Your warm-up should challenge you, but also improve the motions you should excel in based on the demands of your activities.
Provide Movement in all Three Planes of Motion
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the body moves through three planes of motion - sagittal (linear), frontal (lateral), and transverse (rotational). The video below provides a better understanding of each plane of motion.
It’s important to train all three planes of motion because your joints are exposed to all three on a daily basis. This triplanar nature of each joint within your body requires consistent stimulation every single day in order to maintain ranges of motion down the road. This is another reason why regular CARs practice is something we preach to everybody we work with.
Create Context for Movements that will be Performed after the Warm-Up
Your training session should be composed of different squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, and carrying movements. Pushes and pulls are upper body movements, squatting and hinging are lower body movements, and loaded carries should be performed every single training session. Your training should dictate what your warm-up looks like.
On a day where you’re squatting, it’s ideal to execute drills that will address the hips, ankles, and spine, which are the primary joints that require adequate range of motion to squat pain-free. On a day where you’re deadlifiting, hip hinging within your warm-up is a good idea. If you’re golfing, incorporate some type of low-level rotational movements prior to your round to feel looser once you step into the first tee box.
With all of these factors in mind, this is an example of what a Par Four Performance warm-up might look like.
Regardless of the approach you take, the four big rocks above will better prepare you for your sessions that anything else. If you take them into consideration the next time you plan on hitting a heavy deadlift or the range, you’ll move and feel great going in every time.