Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Warming it up

You stroll in the gym. Swipe your membership card. The Front desk girl says "Hey!!" You give her a wink and a masculine "hey". You realize she was talking to the guy behind you with the sweet graphic tee. You get embarrassed and make a mental note to buy that t-shirt. Walk to the locker room. Take a leak. Look in the mirror and think about how great you will look when you 1) get that Affliction t-shirt 2) get some muscles to fill it out. Hair is all good for the gym bunnies? Check.

You stroll into the weight room and survey the landscape. Hey, one of the personal trainers is working out; the tall, unconventionally handsome Hapa guy with the cannonball delts. What the shit is he doing? Why is he walking back and forth kicking his legs and stretching like that? While wearing a hoodie? Squats with a broomstick over his head? Fucking weirdo. 

What am I doing today? Chest or arms? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiet, why not do both. Go big or go home, right? Gotta wait a minute for that bench. Time to swing your arms back and forth across your chest, now stretch your triceps overhead. Good? Get on the bench, do an empty bar set. Feeling great. Let's throw on 135 and start repping it out. Seriously? You've been here for 20 minutes and that trainer is just starting to work out now? Why is he loading up a barbell on the floor? How is he going to bench press like that? WHOA WHOA WHOA...why is he just picking it up like that? OH MY GOD HE IS DOING A DEADLIFT!! Time to go tell the management about this.

Does this sound like you when you go to the gym?

Well, maybe that is being a little extreme. But, if that is how you approach your time in the gym, it is really time to get your head out of your ass. You wouldn't start your car and immediately try and go 100 miles per hour, would you? Why do it with your body then?

The warm-up is as integral a part of working out as the actual lift. If I don't warm up properly before a lift, there isn't a chance in hell that I am going to be able to lift anywhere near my capabilities. Yes, my warm-up does take almost 20 minutes, and by the end of it I am usually sweating pretty profusely. How do I spend so much time warming up?

Foam Rolling (about 5 minutes).
Dynamic stretching (depending on how I'm feeling that day, I'll go through anywhere from 6-10 stretches. This can take about 10 minutes.)
Mobility work (mostly thoracic spine and scapular stuff, about 5 minutes worth).

Even after that, I take a while before I get to my working weight for whatever lift I am performing. If I'm going to be working at 225x3 for the squat that day, I will do an empty bar set (or 2) of 8-10 reps, a set at 95 lbs for 6-8 reps, a set at 135 for 3-5 reps, a set at 185 for 3 reps, a set at 205/215 for 3 reps. Then I will be ready to lift. I remember reading something once where a coach said "unless you're going to be working at 405, you have no business starting at 135" (paraphrased).

The reasoning? You're just not that strong. Why do you think elite athletes spend so much time on the field/court warming up before a game? It reduces the chances of injury and prepares their body to work at it's maximum capability. You may not be an elite athlete, but if it works for them it will certainly work for you.

Your next question should be "how do I do this?" Well, let me allow someone else explain foam rolling.

This is a pretty comprehensive walk-through for foam rolling from Coaches Cressey and Gentilcore. I guess they are pretty smart. Simple, easy, effective. It's going to hurt like a bastard the first time you do it. Remember, you need to experience pain before you can grow (this seems to hold true for all aspects of life).

Now, for the dynamic warm up. I'll let a very exuberant Todd Durkin take you through an extremely comprehensive series.

In terms of mobility drills...well, that is on a person by person basis. I find I need much more work on my thoracic spine than my hips/ankles, so I focus on that much more. Most people will want to focus their attention on their scapula's, thoracic spine, hips and ankles. Now, unfortunately, I can't put up all of the drills you should be doing. But you can find videos for nearly all of them.

Scaps - Scapula Wall Slide, pushup position scap retractions, doorway slides and resistance band pull aparts and forearm wall slides.

T-spine - thoracic extensions on rolle, bench extensions, side lying windmills, quadruped extension/rotation and the yoga plex.

Hips - Spidermans with overhead reach, leg swings, doggie drills, Wall Hip Flexor Mobs and the elevated warrior stretch.

Ankles - knee break ankle wall mobs, knee break ankle mobs with toes elevated, any stretch you can use for your calves.

Look them up. Give them a shot, one at a time. Find out where you really need added mobility (read: everywhere) and start working on it. In order to get bigger, stronger and faster you need to get mobile, agile and hostile.

Try it out next time you go lift something heavy!

p.s. go buy Show and Go for 50% off. I was one of the guinea pigs for this program, and I can attest to its efficacy. You won't regret it!

Before Show and Go

After Show and Go

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