The warm up is something that many trainees attempt to circumvent, to breeze past and push to the side. They see it as something they are told to do, or maybe it’s just not fun for them. Whatever the excuse might be, it is just that: an excuse. These are often the same people who complain about nagging injuries. At BHP, we do not recommend skipping the warm up. It is there for a reason and we cannot condone complaining about injuries or discomfort that are caused by blowing through the process mindlessly – or worse – not at all. In other words, don’t complain about the injuries you have because of the warm up you didn’t do.
One reason why the warm up is so critical is that it allows you to access new ranges of motion you may not have had when you walked through the door. It’s true, even breathing in certain positions unlocks the ability to move joints in a healthier way. It’s also possible to stabilize otherwise unstable aspects of your body. Got a knee that locks? You may need to access your hips or ankles in a more complete way. Got a lower back that hates you? You might need to be able to fill your body with air in a position that is ultra specific to you – and POOF! – one step closer to a healthy back.
Some of this stuff can seem like magic, but it isn’t. A lot of it can be explained to you by your coach by a simple explanation of biomechanics. Even the most complex processes can be explained simply here at BHP, but it is best explained by the warm up process itself. When a warm up is designed for you, it is designed with the issues you have in mind. These are things that may have brought you in here in the first place, or things our head coach saw during your assessment that will create future roadblocks. A warm up works from the ground up to get you doing simple actions, to more complex and dynamic functions that will be trained when the warm up is done.
We break the warm up into 2 categories: Resets and Movement Preparation.
The Resets are there to put you in positions to access certain muscles that may be dormant, not firing correctly or just generally not active enough, then we ask you to hang out in that position for a few breaths. Once you access the position, and breathe there, your body gives you access to these newfound muscles and postures. The reason this occurs is that a situation your body might otherwise find threatening is now proven to be safe. If you can be comfortable enough to breathe in a position, a lot of the things that are stuck and tight tend to unlock and relax a bit. That serves to realign the body, and reset the system. It is the new foundation from which your movement will be built throughout our next stage of the warm up
Movement Preparation starts on the ground performing simple movements or stretches, where we start to explore your new ranges of motion. When we start to use these newly accessed joint positions, the muscles wake up and start to physically warm up. It changes the tissue temperature and makes you more pliable. That is just the hardware part. As we progress through, we start going into more upright positions and performing exercises. At the end, they become more dynamic, sometimes even explosive, where we really crank up the temperature, but more importantly; we work on the software component.
Yes, your body has lots of software involved. We want to create the ability to be reflexive and reactive with your newly accessed positions. Imagine we reset your hips with a breathing exercise, then we improve your ability to separate your hips (something that you need in order to walk without your back hurting) with a core-engaged leg raise exercise. We have all the hardware working like it should. Then, we want to make it more reactive so we have you jog down the turf and touch the end and sprint back to where you came from. Its nothing miraculous, but it certainly is cool. You are now moving like a different person. You have a cleaner crawl, a smoother walk and a more efficient run. You are able to react to your environment and also make corrections.
This all culminates in your ability to create, train, and retain your movement efficiency over time. It will keep you more bulletproof, healthier, and will make you even more badass over the weeks months and years. Show me that same person who has jacked up hips pointing in two different directions. Tell that same person to get in the positions needed in order to effectively train; to squat, to hip hinge, to kneel, get up from the floor and back onto it. I’ll show you a person with achy knees, a cranky back and shoulders that sound like a bowl of rice crispies every day they roll out of bed. I’ll also show you a person who skipped their warm up. It may even be you.
Don’t be that person.
We know it’s tough with all the information out there on working out. It is hard to know how to best protect yourself from both the damages of every day life and the old-school injuries people traditionally get from training. For the best advice on how to warm up, stay healthy and keep you training, check out our Semi-Private Training program at Brooklyn Health and Performance. You will get a full movement assessment and have a customized training program written just for you! We will train you, challenge you, and most importantly we will teach you. Training should not hurt, so be careful on the floor and never skip the warm up!