The Most Efficient Warm Up Routine to Stay Limber and Avoid Injuries
The Importance of a Warm Up Routine
Have you ever pulled a muscle or injured one of your joints?
If you’re like most people, you would probably agree that being in pain is highly undesirable.
Depending on the location and the severity of the injury, it could affect just about everything you do.
Injuries aren’t exclusive to highly active individuals either. I’m sure you know a couch potato or two who have had their fair share of aches and pains.
Fortunately, there is one thing that you can do to keep your body moving fluidly and decrease your risk of injury.
It'll only take 5 minutes of your time.
This is the fourth installment of the Time Hack Series- where we teach you practical strategies that you can implement into your busy schedule to save time and increase your fitness.
Part 1 goes over dietary strategies to increase your nutrient intake during a busy day. You can find it at 5 Useful Ways to Eat More and Increase Your Metabolism
In Part 2, The Ultimate Guide to Meal Prep and Eat Clean on a Busy Schedule, we break down the strategies we use to always have healthy meals on the go.
Part 3, 9 Simple Ways to Shorten Your Workout and Spend Less Time in the Gym goes over simple and practical methods to get the most out of a quick workout. We recommend you read through those articles first.
Today’s post is going to cover
- The Benefits of Warm Up Exercises
- The Most Important Components of a Warm Up Routine
- Examples of Warm Up Exercises
- Dynamic Warm Up Exercises
The Benefits of Warm Up Exercises
Prior to any exercise activity, it is highly recommended that you perform a dedicated purposeful warm-up.
Warming up before exercise is critical because it will prime your body to engage in the workout effectively and safely. Far too often, I see people arrive to the gym and begin lifting heavy weights within seconds of stepping through the door.
This is a recipe for disaster.
Your body is not adequately prepared to recruit muscle fibers at high levels of intensity at such short notice.
It should go without saying that exercising without warming up will increase your risk of injury.
Warm-ups serve to
Increase your basal body temperature,
Promote increased circulation to your joints and muscles
Actívate dormant muscles
Prime your nervous system to recruit more muscle motor units
At the WCT, we believe that you can fit an entire workout in 35 minutes, including a warm-up.
The warm-up should take no longer than 5 minutes and it should be tailored to the movements you will be performing that day.
Here's how we do it.
The Most Important Components of a Warm Up Routine
Every warm-up should include
1-2 General Activation drills,
2 Dynamic Stretches and
1-2 Specific Activation drills
General Activation Drills
General activation drills serve to ‘turn on’ important muscle groups that need to be awake during any physical activity.
The two most important muscles groups that need activation are the glutes and the abdominal muscles.
We live in a society that promotes sitting and as a result, these two muscle groups lay dormant for several hours every single day.
The glutes and the abs are a critical component of the core and should be targeted first to begin most workouts. Failing to do so always puts you in poor postural positions. (You Probably Have Bad Posture- Here's How to Tell
If you attempt to perform compound exercises without engaging your core, you will end up in suboptimal positions increasing the risk of injury.
Here are a few examples of drills that activate the glutes and abdominals simultaneously
When performing these drills, squeeze your glutes and brace your core as hard as you can for a 5 count. Relax and repeat the drill for 5 repetitions.
The next component of our warm ups are dynamic stretches. Stretching is meant to elongate any muscle fibers that are either tight or stiff.
Your muscles can become tight from prolonged repetitive use.
A very common example of this are tight calves in women who wear high heels often. The foot remains in a plantar flexed position which keeps the calf muscles shortened and on tension. Over time this leads to restrictions in activities that require ankle dorsiflexion and ultimately, knee injuries.
Generally, when most people hear the word ‘stretching,’ they think about static stretching. This is when you hold one fixed position for a specific length of time.
Dynamic stretching is different in that you oscillate or move into different end ranges during the stretch.
Dynamic stretches should be tailored to your particular restrictions and to the movements you will be performing that day.
Here are some dynamic warm up exercise examples with the exercise they may help:
Chest Opener (Bench press, OHP)
Banded Shoulder Dislocations (Bench Press, OHP)
Bent Over Double Lat Stretch (OHP, Bench Press)
Deep Squat to Stands (Squats, Deadlifts)
Lunges with Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch (Squats, Deadlifts)
Spend no more than 30 seconds in each position and oscillate into different nooks and crannies at the end range position.
It is important to identify stretches that correspond to your ‘problem areas’ so that you could routinely perform these stretches throughout your regular daily life
Specific Activation Drills
Specific activation drills allow important muscle groups to fire that are specific to the movement(s) you are about to perform. They should be performed with minimal to no weight and for 1-2 sets of 10+ repetitions.
Here are some examples of specific activation drills including the exercise they may help:
Bodyweight Squats (Squats, Deadlifts)
Duck walks with a band around your knees (Squats, Deadlifts)
Dumbbell lateral raises, external rotations and overhead presses (Bench Press, OHP)
Pushups (Bench Press, OHP)
Here is Brittany doing some specific activation drills prior to squatting
How to Warm Up in 5 Minutes
This is the warm up routine you should use prior to performing The Best Workout Template for Busy Professionals. or any other physical activity.
It should only take you 5 minutes to perform. If you find that the warm up is taking you longer than 5 minutes, perform one less general activation drill. Really focus on turning on your abs and glutes throughout the rest of the warmup.
Transition from your general activation drills to your dynamic stretches and immediately into your specific activation drills. The quick pace should also increase your body temperature and your heart rate.
Heres a quick Example
- 30 seconds performing Birddogs (General Activation)
- 30 seconds performing Glute Bridges (General Activation)
- 1 minute performing Deep Squat to Stands alternating with Lunge and Kneeling Hip Flexor Stetch at a quick pace (Dynamic Stretch)
- 1 minute performing Banded Shoulder Dislocations (Dynamic Stretch)
- 1 minute performing Bodyweight Squats alternating with Pushups at a quick pace (Specific Activation)
Even if you aren’t working out, it is a good idea to randomly perform a "general warm up" to reap the benefits of keeping your body in motion.
Do not get caught engaging in workouts until you have performed an appropriate warm-up. Come on, it’ll only take 5 minutes.
What do you typically include in your warm up?
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