There is a lot of emphasis on a good structural training program these days. Programs that manipulate your body improve proprioceptive awareness while increasing strength, mobility, stability and endurance over the long haul, but people tend to spend so much time trying to find the right exercise to implement for the actual strength training and endurance phases that they forget to start with an efficient progressive warm up. In order to put yourself through high threshold exercise you must first prepare the body for what you are about to do.
I work with baseball players and to get them to understand where I am going with their program I relate it back to hitting or throwing off a mound. When they are preparing to hit in the cages they do not just hit off a pitching machine right off the bat. They spend time take a few swings outside of the cage, possibly setting up a tee and take some swings, spend time with some soft toss and then go live against a machine or pitcher. You gradually progress and break down areas at which you feel you need to focus on and then put it all together at the end. It goes back to the “whole part whole” method we learn in school, where you show the gross movements then break it down into pieces and then end back with the whole movement again. This is the same model I use when creating an efficient warm up or what EXOS likes to call “Movement Prep”.
“Movement Prep” is a crucial time and should not be missed. It should also be customized by what the individual needs. What it should not be is a 10 min jog on a treadmill to get a sweat going then progress to the strength training portion. Increasing your core temperature doesn’t mean you have prepared the body for the lifts you are about to do. You should progress from ground to standing with various exercises that will improve the overall dynamic warm up exercises.
So what does a great warm up look like?
Start out on the ground so gravity doesn’t play a role in your movement prep exercises. The warm up should have some type of diaphragmatic breathing component to get the clients body out of a secondary toned up state, then progress to include mobility/stability exercises that are needed specifically for the client, ending with dynamic exercises that focus on multiple joints through various directions and ranges of motion. When the warm up is applied progressively, the body will not only increase core temperature but it will improve overall transfer of force, reduce directional compensations and increase the body’s awareness of good movement.
Next time you are programming a training phase make sure you spend time putting together a efficient warm up based on the client’s needs in order to reach the gains you are looking for as well what the client is striving for. You will see better results overall when you have the same amount of focus throughout the workout.