If we’re completely honest, stretching (warming up) is about as much fun as visiting a drunk dentist in a third-world country. It’s often ignored and brushed off by many people as something that’s just not important.
The Main Problem With Traditional Stretching (Warming Up)
The main problem with conventional stretching (warming up) programs is they often work against your body’s physiology rather than with it.
If you take a tight, cold muscle and expose it to prolonged “standard” stretching (warming up), you could incur scar tissue and micro-tearing, which could then lead to muscle weakness, inflexibility, and injury.
Furthermore, many professionals have prescribed stretching before exercise as a form of warm-up. This is wrong.
A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded if you stretch before you lift weights, you could find yourself weaker and “off-balanced” in your workouts.
Not something we want when hoisting hundreds of pounds of metal.
Instead, “the ideal time to stretch for overall health, performance, and increasing muscle mass is right after your workout“. At this point, the connective tissues are already being stretched from the blood volume in the muscles. By manually stretching the muscles post-workout, you get a double whammy effect; dramatically increasing the muscle fibers’ growth potential.
Maximize your workout with these versatile and quick stretching (warming up) routines! In just 15 minutes, you will be better prepared for any workout program that you take on.
Everyone that commits to being fit and strong wants to perform at his or her best when it comes time to train. No one has great workouts 100 percent of the time, but there is no feeling greater than leaving the gym or weight room knowing you got a good one in. It should make sense that taking every step necessary to maximize the chances of achieving that feeling would be a good idea, right?
The Importance of Warming Up
Well, we need to have a talk. “How much time do you spend warming up and preparing yourself for the workout to come”? For most people, it’s shaking off the arms, doing a few light stretches, and then it’s immediately time to grab some weight.
The ambition and passion to get after it is appreciated. However, committing a brief amount of time to prepare yourself for that session can go a long way in making the most out of every set in your future.
Aside from loosening up the muscles, your cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, and even skeletal systems will benefit from taking as little as 15 minutes to connect with your body and get your mind right. It can also minimize the risk of injury since your body will already be used to performing activities when the serious work begins.
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How To Warm-Up
For you beginners out there reading this, you should know that it’s never a good idea to stretch cold muscles. This is an easy way to injure yourself before you even start training. Movement should always come before stretching. Even something as simple as a three-minute walk could help kick-start your warm-up process. After the body has been moving, then stretching can come in handy.
Another way to warm up effectively is by focusing on stabilization. Positions such as planks and squat holds can be very effective at waking up those muscle fibers. They can also help improve the range of motion and ability to contract.
Three Routines To Use
You wouldn’t use the same three or four exercises every time you train a specific body part because the body can adapt to those movements. This is also why using the same few warm-up exercises aren’t a good idea. Variety can be the spice of life as well as for fitness.
That’s why there are three 15-minute routines included here so you can make the most out of the preparation time you commit. Outside of the walk at the beginning of each workout, there are a lot of different exercises and positions for you to work with. These will not only help you prepare for that next workout, but they can also help you become a better athlete.
A few points worth mentioning:
- Feel free to implement these warm-ups into your training plan as you see fit. Your current workout split will ultimately determine how many days per week you utilize each type of warm-up.
- If you can’t do the recommended reps or times with these workouts, do the best you can and make it a goal to improve. The IFBNewsfeed.Org Exercise Video section is also available to help you understand how to perform each exercise properly.
- Using other options that you have access to such as an elliptical instead of walking is perfectly fine. These workouts are designed so that as many people as possible can do them. Swap in substitutes or more challenging choices if you feel they will help.
Full-Body Focused Warm-Up
Beginners and even intermediate fitness enthusiasts can benefit from utilizing a full-body workout program. Instead of taking a top-down approach, beginning with the feet and working your way up the body will help you make the most out of the time you spend preparing.
That’s why after your brief walk, you will start working on your feet. They are what connect you to the ground, so make sure they feel good first. Then work your way up the lower body. Execute each rep or segment with control and precision. Flying through this won’t help you.
The rest periods shouldn’t be spent resting alone. Use that time to help you transition from one movement to the next. Challenge yourself to decrease the rest time between exercises. For example, if you need 45 seconds to rest during your first go-round, try to decrease that time to 40 seconds next time.
|Fast-Paced Walk||1||3 min||30-45 sec|
|Plantar Fascia w/ Lacrosse Ball||1||15 sec, each foot||30-45 sec|
|Donkey Calf Raise||1||15||30-45 sec|
|Dumbbell Goblet Squat||1||15||30-45 sec|
|Bodyweight Walking Lunge||1||10, each leg||30-45 sec|
|Side Plank||1||30 sec, each side||30-45 sec|
|Plyometric Push-Up||1||15||30-45 sec|
|Rack Lat Stretch||1||30 sec||30-45 sec|
Lower Body Focused Warm-Up
This is a program that could be used for some intermediate and advanced lifters that want to focus on specific portions of the body. Tag this one with any leg day program and your results will speak for themselves.
This one gets more specific to the lower body. One example is the IT Band Foam Roller exercise. If you don’t have a Foam Roller, use something like a tennis ball or med ball until you can get a roller. There are also single-leg movements and holds included. Concentrate so you can feel the stretch and contraction of the targeted area.
Finally, there are movements for the core and shoulders. This is because they could be involved in a secondary role. Think about the squat. Your core needs to be able to stay tight and stabilize the body while you’re squatting. The shoulders are what the barbell will be on, so they should be prepared as well.
|Fast-Paced Walk||1||3 min||30-45 sec|
|Bodyweight Standing Calf Raise||1||15||30-45 sec|
|IT Band Foam Roller||1||30 sec, each side||30-45 sec|
|Bodyweight Single-Leg Deadlift||1||15, each side||30-45 sec|
|Prisoner Squat||1||15||30-45 sec|
|Prisoner Squat (Hold at the Bottom)||1||30 sec||30-45 sec|
|Superman||1||30 sec||30-45 sec|
|Plank||1||30 sec||30-45 sec|
|Band Pull-Apart||1||15||30-45 sec|
Upper Body Focused Warm-Up
This is another one that could be used by people that are beyond the beginner stage. Regardless if you follow a bro-split, or you train the entire upper body in one session, this is a good one that could be used for any workout. There aren’t any static holds included, but those eccentric pull-ups will be great for targeting the lats, upper back, and even the biceps. Sit-ups will challenge the core, and the jump squats will help increase the body temperature and prepare the legs for stabilizing the body during some upper body exercises.
|Fast-Paced Walk||1||3 min||30-45 sec|
|Push Up||1||15||30-45 sec|
|Bench Dips||1||15||30-45 sec|
|Arm Circles (Clockwise)||1||15||none|
|Arm Circles (Counter Clockwise)||1||15||30-45 sec|
|Eccentric Only Pull Up||1||5||30-45 sec|
|Seated Zottman Curl||1||15||30-45 sec|
|90/90 Hip Crossover||1||15, each side||30-45 sec|
|Sit Up||1||15||30-45 sec|
|Jump Squat||1||15||30-45 sec|
Warming up isn’t as exciting as going for that new personal record or chasing the pump, but taking those 15 minutes to prepare can make those experiences even better. These workouts don’t have to be saved for the gym, either. Use them first thing in the morning or any time that you feel you need to perform some activity. If you sit for extended periods, the full-body warm-up can come in real handy. Take these programs, make them your own, and feel the benefits that come with them.
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