Tuesday 3 September 2019

Weightlifter's Guide To Warming Up

We're returning to the second-busiest season of the year for the fitness industry. As such, we created a quick guide to warming up for the weight room based on facts that aren't typically discussed in the mainstream.

1: Going heavy? The warm up should be heavy.

Working with athletes, Athletic Therapists see the difference between a good and bad warm up once the game starts.

The fact is, the light going-through-the-motions warm up commonly seen at the gym is often not going to be enough. Especially when intending to do a very heavy and hard workout, the warm up should build up to be equally so.

Realistically, a hard workout (or competition) should require a warm up that leaves you sweaty and out of breath. It seems counterproductive, but this is the only way to truly prepare your muscles for the work it's about to do.

2: Warm up all the joints you intend to work. As well as many that you don't.

Warm ups should be specific. If you plan to have a heavy arm workout, then 20 minutes on the treadmill won't effectively get your shoulders ready for the load. While getting a nice, systemic bloodflow effect, warming up should target the joints you intend to use.

But, let's remember that other joints are at play during exercise, even when you're not specifically exercising them. The shoulders are under a lot of stress when doing barbell squats on leg day. The lower back is under a lot of use when picking up your dumbbells for a shoulder workout. You'd be surprised how often injuries to the non-targeted joints occur during workouts.

As such, while you want to target the bulk of the warm up on the joints that are going to be worked the most when in the gym, a broader focus on the rest of the body, in general, will help avoid unexpected strain elsewhere.

3: Stretching? Well...

It's fairly common knowledge that an active warm up should be utilized prior to exercise while stretching is best reserved for after.

BUT, did you know that static stretching (stretch and hold) may not even be as beneficial as once thought when done at any time?

But how will everyone know that I just worked out if I don't stretch?
In reality, static stretching hasn't been shown to result in significant decreases in injury rates or long-term gains in range of motion.

In contrast, we actually see greater range of motion increases as we strengthen our muscles through their full range. As well, greater injury prevention rates have been found by means of an active warm up prior to exercise and an active cool-down after. (So basically a warm up, except backward.)

4: Don't mobilize in ranges you don't intend to use.

This is a fun one. "Mobility" is a big hot topic in gyms these days, and a lot of us assume that mobilizing and freeing up all the joints in every direction is the key to keeping them healthy.

However, this is a concept taken out of context. If you don't intend to use and strengthen through a particular range, then you shouldn't be trying to mobilize it. By increasing range and not replacing restriction with strength, all we're doing is creating laxity.

Preparing to do all those resisted shoulder hyperextensions
that we see ALL the time at the gym.
What's more, remember to mobilize gradually, even when hitting the properly-targeted joint. Otherwise, we see the same issue of too much laxity being created too soon before the musculature is ready to accommodate for it.


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