Warm Up Before Warming Up

You get to the gym early and are hanging out, chatting with classmates, yucking it up with everyone… this is awesome. This is community. BUT… you could be yucking it up with everyone while ALSO getting yourself prepared for success in the class. Here are some things you can do in the back of the gym with very little equipment to get yourself better prepared.

1. Foam Roll / Self-Myofascial Release – Spend 5 minutes on a foam roller and/or lacrosse ball working your worst areas, like thoracic spine, lats, glutes, quads, adductors, hamstrings, calves. Make about 20-30 passes over each area. If you run across a brutal knot, take some smaller passes directly over it attempting to breathe and contract then exhale and relax deeper into the knot. You’re just trying to get the tissues moving freely so you can move on. Don’t spend all day here.

2. Breathing – Now that your tissues are moving a little better, we want to fix the postural faults you did to yourself during your work day by slouching in an office chair, unable to breathe in a proper pattern. So, lay on your back, feet flat on the wall, hips and knees at 90 degrees. This is the 90/90 breathing drill. With your abs slightly tight, breathe thru your nose while attempting to drive air to your lower back and then up to your upper back. Exhale hard thru your mouth, contracting your abs to help your diaphragm exhale everything in your lungs. Our goal is here to improve your breathing mechanics, reposition your pelvis, and decrease the tension in your neck extensors, if you’ve been “neck breathing” all day, before moving on with our warmup.

3. Lengthening – After re-establishing neutral, we can begin to get “loose”. We had to get you stable before getting you loose because stretching a position where you’re not braced can do more harm than good. If we’re doing something lower-body focused that day, think couch stretch, activated active straight leg raise, and banded ankle distraction. If we’re going overhead, think of this overhead mobility mobilization, the more common banded lat stretch, and the banded wrist mob.

4. Isolation / Activation – Now that everything is moving better, you can begin activating muscles that maybe aren’t used to working properly. So, think of mini-band walks with the band around your ankles, using your glutes to make small yet wide steps. Clamshells and their variations are also simple but effective. We’d also recommend the serratus wall slide with a band, sword pulls and band pull-aparts.

5. Active & Dynamic Warmup – The first four sections tried to get your body into optimal positions and get the proper muscles firing prior to increasing load or intensity. Now is when you begin mimicking the movements you’ll do in your actual workout, with or without a bar, by adding load and intensity intelligently with things like jumps, skips, sprints, throws, swings, etc… Again, think of what’s in your workout and aim to replicate those moves but with increasing speed. So, if we’re squatting in the strength portion of the workout, maybe work thru some dumbbell goblet squats, lunges, box jumps, box drops, or even skips all with increasing speed or weight. If we’re pressing that day, work thru some light dumbbell strict presses, dumbbell push presses, handstand holds, pushups. If we’re doing some Oly work, consider wallball cleans, dumbbell snatches, or the Burgener warmup with a PVC pipe or training bar.

6. Bonus! If coaches tell you consistently that you have “stability” problems, rather than “mobility” problems, add some banded pallof presses for rotary core stability; planks or dead-bugs for anterior core stability; side planks for lateral core stability. Or, you could hit everything at once with a handful of dumbbell crosswalks dumbbell crosswalks in the back parking lot.

Maybe you are sitting there thinking, “Damn, that is a lot of stuff to do for a warmup!”

Well, not really. Even if you spent 5 minutes on the first five categories, which is a ton, then you would only spend 25 minutes on this pre-warm-up; but, the carryover into your class workout would be enormous. You’d be able to give 100% effort at the workout, giving you better and quicker results, meaning you’d look better naked even faster.


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