Warm Ups – How and Why.
We have had our new warm up protocols in place for about 8-9 months now. Several months ago, I wrote a newletter article discussing how everyone was finding the new warmup drills and how things were progressing from the trainers’ perspectives.
Since then almost everyone is humming along through the warm ups without any difficulty. I thought it was a good time to review our warm ups for both the advanced crowd at the gym as well as some of new clients that are just starting to learn the format.
Our warm ups serve several functions:
* muscle preparation with myofascial release using the foam roller
* raising of body core temperature
* increasing mobility through joints
* teaching/reinforcing correct technique with squat/lunge patterns
* improving movement patterns in prepartion for the workout
* muscle activation
We do several mobility drills such as thoracic spine rotations, ankle mobility with knee to wall, leg swings, lateral squats and lunges, walking sagittal plane lunges, single leg deadlift reach, mountain climbers on slides. Depending on your time training at VWP, your particular warm up may be a bit different. There are several progressions with some specific warm ups such as lateral squats/lunges and sagittal plane lunges.
As we walk through the warm up, picture yourself doing each exercise and see if there is anywhere you can make improvements. I feel the key with the warm up is to focus on each exercise as you progress through, ensuring that you are getting the most benefit out of each exercise. Each of these drills is in place for a specific reason. They are all there to improve/increase range of motion through joints, reinforce correct movement patterns that can lead to pain or injury and to activate muscle groups so they are ready to work when called upon in the strength portion of your program.
Ok, here we go:
Ball Side to Side– this is one that is usually done quite quickly and probably the most unfocussed for a lot of people. Ensure that you are rotating the hip and foot all the way around. Thinking about leading with the hip, not with the shoulders and arms. Do not over reach or over rotate.
Knee to Wall – this is one drill that I get asked a lot about why and how. This drill is about the front foot, not the rear leg. You may feel a stretch through your calf muscle (gastrocnemius) but it is really about the front foot. You must ensure that the heel on the front foot stays on the floor as you move your knee toward to the wall. We are working on loosening up the joint (the bones), not the muscles of the back leg.
T-Spine – sitting on the white block. Thoracic spine rotation can be quite limited in a lot of people. This can lead to neck pain. This drill will focus on rotation through the upper back while the hips and feet stay square. Keep your shoulders down and don’t allow your hands to move away from your chest.
Leg Swings – hip mobility is the purpose of this. Watch your posture, straight upper body. Keep the toes pointing straight ahead; do not let your foot rotate out.
Tube Walking – not so much a mobility drill but more specifically a strengthening exercise for gluteal muscles surrounding the hip. These muscles play a vital role in pelvic stability and this is the best exercise for targeting them specifically. Watch your upper body posture – stand tall and no tea pot!
Lateral Squats (or lateral lunge) – hip mobility work once again. Each one of the reps with the drill should be done with purpose. You want to push back and over the one side; sitting deep into the hip. Watch your upper body posture. This is one drill that most will want to rush through, but slow down and take the time to really work into your hips.
Split squats (or prisoner lunges)– Straight upper body, shoulders back. Look straight ahead not down! Once again, don’t rush through these. Take them through a full range of motion ensuring that the back knee gets down to the floor. If you are in the “prisoner” postion with arms behind your head, make sure you aren’t pulling on your neck as you rise out of the lunge position. You also want to make sure your shoulders are down!
Deadlift with reach – everyone’s favorite, right? This is a movement pattern reinforcer. We really want to work on the hip hinge movement. Try to keep the hip square to the floor as the leg rises. Reach out with the medicine ball but once again make sure that the shoulders stay down and you are not shrugging up around your ears.
Mountain Climbers with slides – Another hip mobility exercise. This is not a speed exercise. Maintain that plank position with shoulders down. Bring knee to chest. We want to make sure that you are not rounding your back so take your time!
Wall Slides – Shoulders need to stay down. Gentle pressure from your forearm and hand against the wall as you slowly raise your arms up and down. Not everyone will be able to do this with their back to the wall. Adequate range of motion must be present. With some, wall slides with nose to the wall is the movement of choice for now.
That covers the total warm up that is used at the beginning of every session. Remember the warm up is preparing you for the strength workout to come. Take time to go through each movement with purpose. These exercises are not just the latest trendy thing off youtube. Each one of them has been carefully selected to elicit a response from the body. We all have mobility problems. We all have flexibility problems. We all can benefit from reinforcement of correct movement patterns and muscle activation work.
Next time you go through your warm up at the gym, think about each exercise and perform it with purpose. You will be well prepared and ready to kick some serious butt in the strength portion of your program!
Till next time,