When it comes to training our body, one of the most misunderstood areas is how to prepare it to deal with the stress its about to endure. As a trainer I see many people starting their workouts with a very minimal or inappropriate warm up, if any at all.
Fitness First Senior Personal Trainer Mark Glanville shares his tips on warming up:
Recently I asked Fitness First members a few questions about their training and what they do to prepare themselves for a weight training session in the gym. Surprisingly, many told me they did nothing at all, and some typically kick off with a few minutes on their favourite cardio machine.
You’ve raised your heart rate, your core temperature is climbing, so that’s ‘warmed up’, right? It might feel that way, but in fact you’re de-stabilising your body – meaning if you go on to hits the weights floor the risk of injury is increased.
Think of your body as a house. The foundation is your stabilsers; the muscles that keep you balanced and upright. The three main stabilisers in the body are the trunk, hips and shoulders. If your foundation is inadequate, then whatever you build on top of it will be as well, increasing the risk of collapse (injury).
I like to use a ‘mobilise and stabilise’ protocol to warm up effectively for a weight training session. The focus is to mobilise the joints and muscles in order to make them capable of movement. Then, stabilise the same joints and muscles to ensure you move within a safe range.
Next time you’re preparing to hit the weights floor, give some of these essential movements a try:
Thoracic mobility Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Position the foam roller under your body around the mid-back area. With your fingers touching your temples and elbows forward, raise your hips and begin to roll from mid-back to the neck and down again. Repeat for 30 seconds.
Shoulder mobility Hold a dowel rod or a light resistance band with a wide grip in front of your hips, standing with your knees slightly flexed, chest up and shoulder blades retracted. Bring the stick or band over the head, keeping your elbows locked and the spine neutral. Make contact with the lower back or glutes, and bring it back to the start position. Complete 10-15 repetitions.
Thoracic and shoulder stability
Step 1 – Inch Worm
Starting in a standing position touch your toes, bending the knees slightly if needed. Start walking your hands forward until you reach a straight-arm plank position. Maintaining a neutral spine begin to protract (separate) your shoulder blades by arching through the upper back and then retract them by squeezing the shoulder blades together and keeping your elbows straight. If necessary, drop to your knees in order to keep a neutral spine. Complete 10-15 repetitions.
Step 2: Rotating Plank
From the inch worm, drop to your elbows into a plank position. Rotate to one side and bring one elbow towards the ceiling, keeping the elbow bent. Look forward and engage the shoulder blade at the top of the movement. Repeat on the opposite side. Complete 6-10 repetitions each side.
These exercises should only take around 4-5 minutes to complete.