Warmups are boring. Warmups are a waste of time. Warmups are going to get you ready to train and might just save you from avoidable injuries.
One of these statements is true… (If you picked option 1 or 2, then we need to have words…)
A good warmup should get you ready to move the way you are about to train, as Dan John said, “The warmup is the workout.”
Got an hour on the cross trainer scheduled? Great, warm up on the cross trainer. Then go consider handing back your gym membership and get outside for a walk instead.
Your warmup should address any flexibility and mobility issues, fire up your muscles that have shut off after sitting on your rear all day at work, get your heart rate up and get you in the zone to train well.
Here is a simple guide to getting yourself going in the gym.
The general rule for stretching is stretch what is tight, but if it stays tight after a couple of weeks of consistent flexibility work, then it’s more likely to be a stability/ mobility issue. The main areas I see that need to be stretched are:
Sitting all day wreaks havoc on your hips, your hip flexors shorten to adapt to the position they find themselves in most often (sitting on the commute to work, at work, home from work, in front of the tv). They need to be opened up.
Glutes: Sitting in one position all day tends to leave you more than a little tight through your glutes, given the multitude of joint angles and hip socket depth variations, you need to find where you get the best result from the stretch position.
Hip: Hip mobility or lack thereof, is a big issue for a lot of people, feeling all tight and jammed up through your hips isn’t going to help you move well and perform well in your training session. 2 great drills for this problem are:
TRX Cossack squat
Deep squat hip opener
Tspine: Your thoracic spine is basically the area of your spine from the top to the bottom of your ribs, this is where most of your spinal movement comes from (rotation, extension/ flexion), unfortunately due to the hunched over position most of us get into, we can end up losing a lot of that movement, this simple drill can help you get the range of movement back –
IYT: Your shoulder blades should have the ability to slide around your upper back, allowing your arms to work through a full range of movement, however due to curvature of the upper back and weakness in the mid/lower traps this becomes difficult and range of movement is lost. This 3 part drill helps you get it back. Focus on feeling the shoulder blades move around the ribs as you reach out, and squeeze them down and back as you pull in.
Bird dog: All the movement here should come from your glutes and not your low back, before you begin you need to brace your abs with a big belly breath, then breathe out with each movement, working to maintain a neutral spine throughout. To begin with, I usually have clients start with the leg only portion of the movement, only adding in the opposite arm component once they can maintain good position and have the leg drive come from the glutes.
These options on the pushup/ hindu pushup give you a great full body movement, building shoulder stability, upper back mobility, hip mobility, and a little stretch through your lats, hamstrings and calves.
Option 1: Straight arms throught, this helps you learn the movement and begin to build the strength needed to progress to option 2.
A good quality bodyweight squat focussing on keeping the heels down and chest up position. Aim for parallel at the bottom.
Glute bridge – focussing on squeezing your glutes hard at the top. Imagine levering up from the bottom position and squeeze your glutes hard at the top. If you feel your quads or hamstrings doing all the work, adjust your foot position and lift your toes off the floor to find a better position to get your glutes working.
While there are other good warmup options available to you, you want to keep your warmup short and effective, and I feel that these options get the job done really well.
Hip flexor stretch – 15-20s per side
Glute stretch – 15-20s per side
T-spine rotation – 4-6 per side
Deep squat hip opener – 3 or 4 15s holds at the bottom
IYT – 5 per movement
Bird dog – 5 per side
Hindu pushup variation – 4-8
Glute bridge – 8-10
Squat – 8-10
TRX cossack squat – 4-6 per side
Try this out before you train and you’ll feel, move and perform better.