Exercise Rescue: Warm-Up to Stay in the Game
Ever started your car on a cold morning, then immediately backed out the driveway, slam on the breaks, and floored it out onto the street?...No? I didn't think so. So why do that to your body??
Crazy thing is, I see at the gym all the time. People walk in off the street, and immediately lift a heavy weight. Not properly prepping your body for your workout is a recipe for disaster. I realize most people live extremely busy lives, and that gym time is at a premium. As a trainer, I get it, sometimes you only have 30 minutes for a workout. So who wants to spend 10 of them warming up? My hope is, that by reading this, it will become apparent that a dynamic warmup is a MUST HAVE in your fitness program.
What is a Dynamic Warmup
Think of a dynamic warmup as prepping the engine before you hit the road. A dynamic warmup a series of controlled, athletics movements that prepare the body to perform certain desired tasks. These tasks are could include sprinting, lifting weights, or performing a sport. It is something that should be done before your workout. We will also be discussing dynamic stretching, which we will consider as part of the dynamic warmup family.
Common Dynamic Warmup Exercises
Here is a are some common dynamic warmup exercises. Of course, these can all be modified to your preferences, and to the demands of the task you are performing.
- Knee Hugs
- Arm circles
- Hamstring walks
- Body Weight squats
- Lunges (forward and lateral)
- High knees
- Lateral Shuffles or Lateral hops
Notice how the exercises progress in intensity. They start slowly (knee hugs), and eventually progress to a higher intensity (high knees). Your warmup should follow that pattern. Your heart rate should be elevated when you're done. These exercises can also be done in place, so space should not be a barrier.
Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching
A static stretch is a stretch that is held of a predetermined amount of time. Thus the term static. You ain't goin anywhere. Think of reaching down and touching your toes for 30 seconds. Static stretching is also very common in yoga. Although this post focuses on the benefits of a dynamic warmup and dynamic stretching, static stretching still has benefits. Static stretching has been shown to improve range of motion when held for long duration of time. So great news for all you yogi's out there!
Dynamic stretching is basically stretching w/ movement. For example, instead of just reach down and touching your toes for 30 seconds, try a hamstring walk (video below). Besides simply stretching your hamstrings, this exercise also stretches the calf, activates the glutes and hamstrings, and coordinates your movements in a way that better prepares you for your workout.
Dynamic Warmup Benefits
Now that we know a little more about the dynamic warmup, lets talk about some of the benefits. The benefits of a dynamic warmup are many. These benefits include:
- Increased muscle activation
- Increased range of motion
- Enhanced muscular performance and power as opposed to static stretching, no stretching at all.
- Decreased risk of injury
As you can see, there is some obvious application here. Who wouldn't want these benefits?... Whether you are a serious athlete, or just someone looking to get in shape, a dynamic warmup clearly helps your performance. It something that doesn't take a lot of time, and the return is well worth the investment,
Part of performance is staying healthy. And adding a dynamic warmup will aid in that....Like I tell my athletes, it doesn't matter how strong or fast you are, if you can't stain the game....Happy moving everyone!