Warm Up the Right Way – Steps to a Complete and Correct Warm Up

When clients in Singapore come to ask for personal training, I realized that we all want to lose weight and get fit. However without a proper warmup, injury risks go way up and when we are injured, we can’t train effectively, side-tracking all our fat loss, weight loss and fitness goals.

As a personal trainer in Singapore I am often asked…”What Makes a good Warm-up?”

When we think about warm-ups, Tennis lesson Singapore somehow our minds go back to physical education class in our school days. When I was in school in Singapore, we were told to move into several stretches and “stand here and hold this position for a count of 20”.

These stretches were undoubtedly followed by several laps around the track of field. You know what… this is not all that bad. In fact physical education lessons 2 times a week is more physical activity than most people get in this day and age. But remember we want to have an attitude of excellence. “not all that bad” just won’t cut it.

Let’s look at this way. How many of us have the ability, passion, athletic background, genetics or even the desire to train for a place in our country’s Olympic team? Not many right? However does that mean that the “non-elite” athlete or even the regular person at a gym, should train in a less than optimal (Olympian) way? puptownhouston I would hope not. And I certainly hope my personal training clients don’t accept any run of the mill training methods either.

Of course we would not be lifting the weights that they can. We would not be running, jumping or swimming as fast or as long as they do. However in fundamental aspects they are the same as us, they are just more finely tuned. An Olympic sprinter has exactly the same number of muscles performing the same functions as the couch warming TV addict. The Olympian is just far more efficient and powerful.

Somewhat like a F1 Racecar versus a broken down 1970 Nissan Sunny. The sunny may never Race on the F1 circuit. But if we put in a new engine (muscular strength and power), coffee cart Melbourne new suspension (more mobile joints and stronger bones/connective tissue), and a new body kit (reduced body fat) this old car is going to do pretty well for itself in a local street car race. That’s great considering its former state of disuse and ill-treatment. And this is what we hope that all our readers and personal training clients achieve.

The Warm-up techniques in this article are the beginnings of the transformation of that run down Nissan. The warm-up exercises will prepare your body for training.

* Your cardiovascular system will be activated * Your joints and connective tissue will be more pliable * Your nervous system that controls your muscles will be activated * Your balance and reaction time will be improved. * Your body will be in motion,  negating the effects of keeping the body in a fixed position (usually sitting down for extended periods) as is common in our sedentary lifestyles

The exercises are designed to “bullet-proof” your core and major joints from injury. Injury is frustrating, prevents progress and is also uh…inherently painful.

The warm-up exercises are so important that if you really had a tough day with zero time for yourself, all your planning (you did plan to train right?) and all your scheduling (you did plan time to train right?) went down the drain… the very minimum that you should do on that day is a series of warm-up exercises.

If you are having a regular workout the warm-up exercises should be done before the training session. The components of a warm-up are:

Self Myofascial Release (SMR)-

This is a fairly new piece of “warm-up” technology. It simply means self massage for parts of our body that may have knotted up muscles. These knots cause the muscles to become shortened, tightened and weak. Normal stretching does not help here. The illustration is one of a rubber band with a knot in it. Stretching does not help. The knot remains and the rubber band does not function optimally. SMR gets rid of the “knots”. It is cheap to do and makes you feel absolutely great. I have had experiences with clients who come is super stiff and tight. A few sessions of SMR and they feel like they are 30 years younger. SMR is an article in itself but there are some good videos out there. One is called “Foam Roller Techniques” by Coach Mike Boyle. The commonly used tools are foam rollers and tennis balls. Depending on how tight you are, you should spend 3-15 minutes on SMR.

Static Stretching –

Static stretching is the most “ancient” part of the warm-up. However it has been shown to “deactivate” muscles (which makes sense because we have stretched them and now we want them to contract forcefully during exercise? that’s not going to happen!). Deactivation is bad because it makes our strength training session less productive. But what if we WANT to deactivate the muscle? That is the case for some of our tight and overactive muscles. Common ones are the hip-flexors (front of thigh and hip), the thigh adductors (inner thigh), and the upper trapezius/levator scapulae (neck).

From my experience as a personal trainer in Singapore, our seated and hunched postures (long hours of computer use etc) these are the muscles that get tight. Static stretching helps here. 2 sets of 20 second holds per tight muscle should be enough. Remember this is done AFTER SMR. (the knots are gone now we can stretch effectively)

Dynamic Stretching/Muscle Activation –

Now the fun begins, there are numerous movement drills and bodyweight exercises that can be used in this category. The key idea is to increase body temperature and activate muscles so they work properly during the main workout. The key muscle to activate is the glutes (buttocks) because these are not well conditioned in most people. Failure to activate them results in hamstrings, adductor and lower back muscles taking the strain. That is a recipe for injury. Good instructional DVD’s for dynamic warm-ups are “Magnificent Mobility” and “Inside-Out”.

Core Training –

In most personal training programs in Singapore, this area is often left out but it is important. I include core training in the warm-up because I have seen to many people with poor core function. The key muscles are:

Transverse Abdominus (TVA) – This muscle performs the “drawing in” of the belly button. This is a skill that is lacking in many people, especially those who have excessive lower back arches. Stand up straight with arms overhead, and think of making yourself as “thin” and as “tall” as possible, as if you were trying to squeeze between two vertical poles which are close to each other. Hold the drawn-in position for 5 seconds for 5 sets.


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