How much time do you normally spend to warm up before beginning your workout at the gym? 5 minutes? 30 minutes? And what do you do, use the treadmill? Foam roll? Stretch?
There is a lot of conflicting and confusing info out there and how to warm up effectively before exercise. Through this article I’m going to explain the most simple, scientific and effective way to prepare your body before you workout.
So, whats the point of warming up? The purpose is to get our heart rate up so blood begins to flow to the muscles in our body, and also to prime our joints and muscles for the movements we will be participating in during our workout. Therefore stretching is not that effective at all, because its not specific to the movement (e.g. squat, bench press) that we will be performing.
Foam rolling is also a hit or miss as a warm-up. The function of foam-rolling is just to create some sensory awareness into the muscle you are rolling, so when you train that muscle you will have a better mind muscle connection with the area. So if you like to foam-roll, I would suggest to do it for 5 minutes. The scientific literature shows that 5 minutes vs 20 minutes will make no difference to performance.
So lets get to the point, what is the best warm-up routine for your workout? You ready? The answer is the exact same movement you will be performing but at a lower intensity and higher repetition. So if you are going to be bench-pressing, the best warm-up is not 20 minutes of rotator cuff activation, it’s doing the bar for a lot of reps to prime that movement and get your body ready for the skill of bench-pressing. Then you would add a little weight and perform more reps (e.g.10) and get the body use to a little bit more weight. It’s actually quite simple.
So when would you need to do specific rotator cuff/glute activations? You will only need these if you are currently in pain, have trouble feeling those area in the exercise or are looking to really optimise your performance (e.g. if you are a competitive athlete). Otherwise, for the average person, a warm-up is simply just performing the same exercise at a lower intensity and for higher reps. There is no more need to waste time doing other things that will not really contribute to the majority of your performance.