Do I Really Need to Warm Up?

Seriously though, warm ups suck! I recently did a few classes myself when on holiday and the warm is by far the worst part. Your body is still feeling sore and stiff, all the people rolling around on the floor from the previous class is very distracting, you want to chat to your friends about last night's dinner and some coach is stood at the front of the room telling me to do an ‘inch worm push up’….. But, as a coach, I also knew that these warm ups are potentially the most important part of the session. They can serve a number of different purposes, the main one being to get your body prepared for the workout to come. You have probably heard the rubber band analogy? That if you pull on a very cold piece of rubber, it may snap, but if you pull on a warm piece it will continue to stretch. To a certain extent this applies to your muscles. We need our muscles to extend and contract when we train, meaning that they need to be warm. Another way to look at it is that most of the time our muscles are ‘asleep’ and we need to focus on ‘waking up’ or ‘switching on’ these muscles in order for them to perform. One of the most common examples of this is on 'deadlift day'. Those that work hard through our posterior chain activation warm up will come in the next day with glute and hamstring DOMS (this is good), the ones that don’t use the warm up time properly come in with lower back pain (this is bad). Do you think this applies to you? Another great use of the warm up is to work on skills, technical ability and the correct movement patterns. It is very often that when we do our empty barbell warm ups I see people being ‘lazy’ and almost purposely moving with sloppy or poor form, just because “its only the warm up, I’ll save my energy for the real workout” Be honest, how many times have you thought this? But the warm up is where you prepare your body to be in all the positions it needs to be in during the workout. If you move properly and thoroughly though all these positions, it will feel much more solid when you have a weight in your hands.  Some of my best lifting session have come after a 20-30 minute barbell warm up, if you have been to one of our weightlifting classes, you will probably agree. The final use I have for the warm up is to get the heart rate up and work on basic fitness. Sometimes this 10 minute warm up slot could just be a very low skill and low impact workout where you can gradually increase the intensity as you move through it. I often throw bike or burpees in to my warm ups as a way of getting in some added fitness without having to think about it too much. I have included a few different types of warm ups I like to use for the class programming. If you have spare time or find yourself needing a warm up for a holiday workout then use one of these. If you are one of those people that like to ‘take it easy’ in the warm up, think twice next time about how that will affect your overall workout. I guarantee that your performances will start to increase the more effort you put in to this part of the class.
  • Activation Warm Up (hamstring and glutes): 3 rounds for quality, move slow and efficiently 10 sumo deadlift with kettlebell 15 banded good mornings 20 single leg hamstring curls (10 per leg)
  • Technical Warm up for Snatch: Empty barbell- 5 reps of each, 2 sets of each, rest between sets, keep quality high: Snatch deadlift Hang snatch pulls Hang muscle snatch with a pause overhead Hang power snatch with 3 second pause in ‘catch’ position Hang power snatch, 1 second pause, then over head squat Hang squat snatch with 3 second pause
  • Movement and mobility warm up for Gymnastics: 3 rounds for quality: 15 shoulder dislocates with PVC pipe 30 second dead hang from bar 10 hollow rocks 10 arch rocks 10 scap pull ups
  • Pulse Raise warm up (for general full body warm ups) 1 minute assault bike @ 50% effort 4 burpees every 30 seconds x 6 sets 1 minute assuakt bike @ 70% effort 5 burpees every 30 seconds x 6 sets 1 minute assault bike @ 85% effort 6 burpees every 30 seconds x 6 sets
    By: InnerFight Director of Training, Phil Hesketh