The Perfect Warmup

The Perfect Warmup

The warm-up has for goal to prepare our body for an effort. It’s about a transition between the state of rest and the “intense” effort.


When we increase our central and muscular temperature, we are more able to realize our objectives. First of all, the increase of the muscular and articular mobility allows an anticipation of the risks of wounds. The increase of the muscular temperature allows an increase of the speed and the strength of contraction of our muscles. Finally, the warm up permit to prepare the respiratory and cardiovascular systems before the effort, by increasing our consumption of oxygen, our heart rate and our respiratory frequency. All these effects are principally connected to the increase of the temperature. You have to warm up gradually to have no too rough rise of your temperature. Besides these effects, the warm up prepares psychologically (concentration) and technically (nervously, repetition of the movements) for the effort, it’s perfect for exercise like cross training.

The perfect warmup has 5 parts

1. The Pre Warm-Up.
This involves foam rolling, trigger point therapies, or self-myofascial release. This can be a bit tricky and you will probably need to get a couple lessons on how to do it correctly, but once you do you will feel so much looser during your workouts. But the general idea is massaging out all the knots and tight spots in muscles and joints that can cause imbalances or inefficient movements.

2. The General Warmup.
This is where most peoples warm-ups begin and end. This phase involves the use of simple, gross movements such as jogging, jumping jacks, jump rope, and basic movements. The point of this phase is to begin to increase your heart rate, start to breathe deeper, create a light sweat as the body starts to heat up, etc. Most people I find however mistakenly tend to turn this part of the warmup into a workout in iteslf. During this phase, you should be easily able to carry on a conversation with your trainer or workout partner.

3. The Dynamic Stretches.
During this phase, we will start to really emphasize movement of the joints, especially the shoulders, spine, and hips, but also the wrists, ankles, knees and elbows. We can do this through a number of more skilled and focused ecxercises such as high knees, butt kickers, straight leg kicks out, leg swings (front, back, and lateral), as well as movements taken from yoga such as deep lunges (Dragon stretch), warriors, the Samson stretch, cat/cows, bird/dogs, forward bends and more. Of course the joints we shoul really focus on are the areas we will be working primarily that day. So if it’s an upper body pushing day, I will really focus on chest and shoulder opening exercises.

4. The Central Nervous System (CNS) Prep Phase.
This is the phase where you will begin to wake up the fast twitch muscle fibers, the ones responsible for muscle growth, and moving heavy objects quickly. Using our chest day example, I would permorm a few sets of low rep, but very explosive body weight plyometric pushups.

5. The Skill Specific Phase.
During this final phase you will perform with a very light weight the exercise that will be the days heaviest or most complex. For the above example, my skill specific movement would be the bench press but performed with just an empty bar allowing me to focus on the proper grip, angle, getting the motion pattern established, and warming up the muscles to the exact range of motion that will be required when I advance to the heavier weight.

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