I think everyone can agree that warm ups are one of the most tedious parts of working out. You’ve gotten to the gym and you’re ready to get to work then get on with your life, not spend 20 minutes before hand gentle warming, rolling, stretching, and otherwise mobilizing your body before you even touch a weight. I feel the same way. However, I’m much more diligent about enforcing a good warm up with clients than I am about doing it myself because it’s pretty important. I’ve seen firsthand countless times how much better a person’s movement gets after a thorough warm up, and how much more safely they can push their body. So what’s an aspiring athlete to do?
Well, the simplest answer is that anything is better than nothing, but I’ve found a few tricks to keep the process quick and engaging rather than tedious:
- For starters, I encourage everyone to stretch throughout the day. This is a big deal because if you’ve been stationary all night and most of the day by the time you arrive at the gym you have a lot of work to do just to undo that. If however, you make sure to have good sleep posture (on your back, no pillow), Move around as much as you can during the day, and grab a quick stretch here and there whenever it occurs to you, you’ll already be pretty mobile before you ever set foot in the gym. (Plus you’ll feel better all day long too 😉 )
- If you do a cardio warm up, make it intense. What’s going to warm you up faster, cruising on a stationary bike or busting @ss on a speed rope? Exactly.
- Dynamic stretching over static stretching. Dynamic stretches involve moving through a range of motion rather than reaching and holding, and they’ve been proven to warm muscles up without fatiguing them better than static reach-and-hold stretches do. Static stretches are great too, but they really shine as a cool-down tool when you’re done training and nice and warm. There are tons of dynamic stretches and mobility drills out there, but here’s a go-to routine I use with a lot of our clients:
4. Fun stuff! If dynamic, range of motion stretches are best, why not include activities you enjoy that happen to move you through many ranges of motion? For Marcella this is dance movements. Lately, I’ve been using Capoeira! Plus, this has the added benefit of training the all-important vestibular system that controls balance, coordination and spacial awareness.
So remember, a solid warm up is absolutely time well spent., but with a little tweaking it can be fun, effective, and still take only 5-10 minutes.