A Better Warm-up Leads To a Better Workout

By now you should have a good idea about why warm-ups are so important and why we all do them before a workout.

Better Warm-up

We’ve highlighted the difference between warm-ups and stretching, and even shown that proper warm-ups are one of the habits that successful CrossFit athletes exude. Now we cover how a better warm-up leads to a better workout.

It’s important to understand that when you do warm-ups that you need to achieve certain goals in order to impact positively on your actual workout. If you can achieve these simple goals, and do warm-up routines which are best suited for your workout, then you’ll give yourself the best chance of a better performance and importantly less risk of injury.

There is no point of a general one-size-fits-all warm-up if you’re going to be pushing certain parts of your body in a workout; so specific warm-ups are important. You have three goals in your warm-ups: correcting your body alignment, drilling movement skills and performing a dynamic warm-up, and activating your muscles, joints and nervous system specific for that workout

First off, the human body is not as symmetrical as you think, mostly due to bad habits and lifestyle elements. Most alignment issues come straight from your hips, and often you’ll notice, for example, that when you stand and you put more weight on your dominant leg and tilt your other leg. A simple reoccurring habit like that can affect your hips, lumbar spine, etc., putting your body alignment way off. Unfortunately we hardly ever work on sorting this out. By working on your alignment during your warm-ups you also avoid potentially making the problem worse, and bad alignment will certainly cause imbalances and instability. And even if you have great mobility, if you have limited stability, it is almost worthless.

Here’s a great warm-up for pelvic alignment, helping sort out overall alignment

When it comes to drilling overall movement skills, the goal is to work on mobility, stability, range of motion, to increase heart rate, and to increase proprioception – all this to ensure that when you get started with your workout your body is primed from the start. A dynamic warm-up targets your whole body and helps with the movement skills you’ll require. Instead of just targeting heart rate and specific muscles and joints, the goal here is to target total joint range of motion, full muscular readiness and to improve spacial awareness. You should breathe a little heavy and feel really warmed-up after doing this.

Here’s a great dynamic warm-up example:

Finally, when it comes to activating specific muscles, joints and your nervous system for the workout ahead, the goal here is to prime those areas in a way which will replicate the range of motion and the movement dynamic which the workout entails. By engaging these specific areas you get a better feel for how these muscles, joints and the ranges of motion are going to be used – they’ll mimic the range of motion, even from a different position.

Here’s an example of a specific warm-up aimed at activating your shoulders for any shoulder to overhead workouts:

When it comes to warm-ups, you need to ensure that you’ve done all you need to do to ensure that you can push yourself hard and safely during a workout.

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