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Proper Warm-Up Techniques To Help Prevent Injury In The Gym!
Today I want to go over injuries due to poor warm up techniques. These injuries include muscle tears, strains and tendon injuries, ranging from poor to no warm-up. First I would like to start by saying think of your tendons and muscles as Laffy Taffy. What happens when you try to pull apart or bow out cold Laffy Taffy? Of course it breaks. Now what happens when you try to bend or pull apart hot Laffy Taffy? That’s right, it stretches nice and easy. Your muscles and tendons work in the same way, which is precisely why a proper warm-up is so important. Most of you are probably thinking, oh, I know how to warm up, get in the gym and start stretching all your muscles and then get down to pressing the weights!
Wrong! Stretching while your body is cold is one of the worst things you can do. To achieve a proper warm-up, you need to do just that warm-up. This means you warm up your core by getting your heart rate up, the blood circulating and pumping to your muscles faster. You know that warm feeling you get inside your body when you start walking up a flight of stairs or up a hill? Well yes it is. My personal favorite way to warm up is to put on my hoodie, get on the stationary bike, and ride for ten minutes at over 100 rpm. The hoodie really helps retain my body heat as my core temperature rises. But cycling may not be your thing, but there are many different ways to reach the desired core temperature. Some are light jogging, jumping jacks, elliptical machine, body squats, whatever you choose, try to shoot for ten minutes of constant movement. Now that your blood is pumping and your muscles/joints are warm, it’s time for what I believe to be the most important part of my warm-up, correcting your weak points. If you have bad shoulders, spend some time doing some light rotator cuff exercises to prepare them for the heavy chest exercises you will be doing. Have tight muscles or knots, then pull out the foam roller and do some myofascial release. Whatever it may be, take a few minutes and work on your weaknesses or postural imbalances.
The next thing I want to go over is stretching. As I mentioned before stretching while the body is cold can cause damage to muscles and tendons. Now that your body is properly warmed up, it’s time to stretch, but not your normal static stretches like I see so many of you doing at the gym. Static stretching (holding a position for 30+ seconds), while great and very effective for post-workout, is not recommended for part of your warm-up. Static stretching before you exercise lengthens the muscle and can reduce your strength, not exactly what we’re trying to achieve right before we start lifting. But dynamic stretching is perfect. Dynamic stretching is placing the muscle in an extended range of motion that does not exceed one’s static-passive stretching ability. So for example arm circles, torso twist, knee to chest, and so on.
The last thing I want to say is that I always recommend doing two warm up sets with light weight, high reps and full range of motion for the first two exercises just to get my muscles in the correct form and movement. Then I do a warm-up set before my work sets on all exercises. And always finish your workout with static stretching, as this will add length to your muscles to keep you flexible.
My personal warm-up example:
– 10 minutes stationary bike RPM over 100
– 3 circuit set with stabilizing Swiss ball core activation
(Glute bridge with 30 seconds left on the ball)
(Push-Up places the hands on the ball for 30 seconds)
(Push-Up position feet on the ball 30 seconds)
Rest 2 minutes and then repeat 3 times
– Dynamic stretching before weight lifting
Another example of warming up the whole body:
– 2 minutes of jogging in place
– 15 Burpees
– 30 jumping jacks
– 10 leg lifts (per leg)
– 20 sit-ups
– 20 push-ups
– 10 lunges (per leg)
– 10 body squats
– 10 hip extensions
– Dynamic stretching before weight lifting
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