Ever remember your coach talking about how the first 10 minutes of a game sets the pace for the rest of the match?
Well the same applies to your workout and as soon as you step foot in the gym, those first 10 minutes should be your kick ass warmup setting you up for domination.
But first things first, let’s self assess.
A. The macho bodybuilder that likes to lift heavy things but is now having trouble scratching your itchy back?
B. The exerciser who KNOWS the importance of a warm-up but skips it because you time compound everything? (including your girl/boyfriend)
C. The average Joe who says they can’t do “X” super-amazing-strength-building-compound exercise because they’re not flexible enough?
If you answered yes to any of the above (or even if you didn’t), I command you to keep reading.
You see, warming up isn’t so bad.
In fact, it can do a whole heck of a lot for improving your strength.
If the muscles are warmed up, stimulated, and neurologically prepped for the upcoming activities, you’re going to squat deeper, jump higher, and lift heavier.
Which is the goal of a Dynamic warm-up
to increase your range of motion and activate the muscles in preparation for the stresses they are about to endure.
Think about what you were doing before you arrived at the gym.
Probably sitting in your office, or your car, or a bus, plane, or train. You’re body has been lying dormant with your muscles under utilized.
And (I think it’s safe to assume) it’s been done with less than sufficient postural positioning that certainly wouldn’t land you a spot in Emily Post’s Etiquette hall of fame - tsk tsk.
But you’re going to to the gym, walk on a treadmill, and rep out?
No way Jose, you just sent your body on a blind date that isn’t going to be an A+ match. You may leave with a hug or peck on the cheek, but you certainly won’t make it to first base.
I follow a 3-step process when dynamically warming up
1. Warming Up
The actual act of heating up the body and increasing your heart rate.
2. Foam Rolling
Also known as Self-Myofascial Release (SMR), to stimulate blood flow to specific areas of the body and loosen them up.
3. Mobility & Muscle Activation
Specific movements that increase range of motion and muscle activation in preparation for the activities in your workout.
Most of you probably already do this with your favorite piece of cardio equipment, which is awesome. What’s not awesome is that you probably don’t follow it with #2 and #3.
I should really title #2 Self-Myofascial Release, since you can SMR with more objects than a foam roller: medicine ball, tennis ball, or a stick roller.
But I didn’t, and that’s because I love foam rolling. At this stage, we’re trying to increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles.
Note: I also foam roll post-workout to help relieve muscle soreness. It’s one of my go-to fitness foundations for speeding up recovery between workouts.
Mobility & Muscle Activation
Annnnnd we save the best for last. Here, we’re working our range of motion at particular joints and activating our muscles, but are doing so in a “dynamic” fashion (aka not statically holding a position for 10-45 seconds).
Here’s a couple of my favorite Mobility and Muscle Activation exercises:
Arm Circles (no video, it's a test)
Now stand up
Raise your right hand
And pat yourself on the back
Because I know you’re going to immediately incorporate this into your workout and kick even more ass (your welcome).