Hi guys,  Kris from Custom Fitness here, your personal trainer in Amarillo. Hope you guys are having an awesome day. Today I wanted to share a few warm up ideas with you. A majority of people tend to stretch to get their bodies ready to workout. Research shows us that for some people stretching is effective while in others it is not.  If you would like to find your perfect warm up or have questions regarding exercise, nutritional, or lifestyle transformations, we are here to help. Give us a call at 806-322-3188.

Essentially what happens when you do static stretching beforehand is you don’t actually warm the muscles. You are merely tugging on muscles that are cold and that can lead to some problems.  To better illustrate this, imagine putting a rubber band in the freezer. Once it is nice and rigid, pull it out and try to extend it. It will probably break, right?  The same is true of our muscles. We hopefully aren’t stretching them to the point of breaking, but we can cause some serious damage to the tissues if the muscles aren’t prepared.

Let’s think of some alternatives to stretching for your pre-workout, so when you begin your routine you are getting the most out of it. People don’t realize that your warm up is to brace your body for the exertion that lays ahead.  We do that by literally warming the muscles up, increasing their flexibility/pliability, preparing to bear more loads for resistance training, and overall get a better workout because we can push ourselves further with primed muscles.

For static stretches warm up there are a few problems. First, as we discussed, is the muscles remain cold and are ill prepared to work.  Secondly, they are overstretching by stretching to the same places they do after a workout when the body has already warmed up then hold it for too long or too little, etc. We will look more into where those stretches should go in a little while.  

To adequately warm up during your pre-workout, you want to do something that causes a myofascial release paired with a dynamic warmup.  If you don’t have time for both, try to at least get in the dynamic workout. Take a deep breath, I’ll explain. Maybe you’ve seen those foam rollers in Target?  Or you’ve seen The Stick here at the studio? These are tools which cause Myofascial release.  Your fascia is like a piece of saran wrap around all of your muscles. If it is too tight or tense, your muscles can’t relax because there is no room to do so. By releasing that tissue, your muscles can get warmer because the blood is able to flow to them rather than being strangled by the rigid fascia.

Release Your Tension

I prefer The Stick to the foam roller, because you get to choose the pressure. It also has a bit of flex to it, so you can roll it over curves like your leg. Whereas the foam roller depends on you balancing your body weight in just the right spot(s) to get the benefit. While you are warming up your leg muscles by rolling, you are simultaneously warming your arms up by performing the rolling. You are doing light resistance, but also repetitious movement creating more blood flow to get your muscles firing. This is a great pre-warm-up; especially when you combine it with a mobility work.

If you are about to begin a circuit training with weights, you don’t want to include weights in your warm up. Some people do incorporate them by going through a light then heavy set, but that really should be reserved if you are only doing old school weight training. Circuit style needs you to be fully warmed up in all muscle groups and you need your heart rate up to get the most out of the program; things you cannot do if you are utilizing weights while warming up the body.

Dynamic is Key

You want to add a dynamic element to this warm up by moving all 3 segments of the body (lower body, core, upper body) through all 4 planes of direction (forward, backward, lateral, and rotation). This may seem difficult to check off all of these for a mere warm up, but let me show you one demonstration: Over Under the Fence.

Stand to the side, lift your right leg up and over an imaginary fence, then your left leg up and over.  Then go under another “fence” right next to it by sliding your stooped body underneath.  From there, you return to your original placement by doing the opposite.  Step over the fence with your left then right leg, then slide under the fence, ending in the place you began. You can see, this gets the blood pumping in the lower body and core.

Another exercise for lower body and core is to stand with your feet together and your arms out in front of you, palms touching. Take a step forward with one leg, lunge, and rotate your arms to one side, return to forward, step back, and do it again on the other side. For safety reasons, keep your knees facing forward so as not to damage the joints.

What about the upper body? You can hold a plank, do inchworms (bend over with your fingertips touching the ground and inch them forward and back), we can do some modified stepping burpees, do some light weights (arm curl or shoulder press movements), or resistance bands, etc.  

There are lots of ways to warm the body up, but I want to emphasize that whatever method you choose make sure it is dynamic and not static. Be careful with a warm up set with weights unless you are doing old school weight training. If you are doing HIIT or circuit training you need your heart rate up before you begin your training.

When is the best time for static stretches?

The best time is directly after a workout.  Some people go into a static stretch for 5 seconds, do the other side for 5 seconds and be done.  This is not the way to go about stretching.  Your goal is to hold each stretch for 30 seconds.  In that time you will allow the physiological part of your body to create the release. Stretching for less time does not give our body adequate time to release the tissue. Alternatively, holding a stretch for more than 45 seconds does not make you more flexible. The stretch reflex happens between 30-45 seconds. So remember to hold it with good form then switch to the next stretch or the other side.

If you want to do static stretches, keep in mind to make it a full body stretch. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen during my career as a personal trainer in Amarillo where the gym junkies finish up a workout and stretch their arms and leave.  WHAT?! You just did a full body workout, you want to stretch out the entire body as well by targeting all the major muscle groups.

You can roll out with a foam roller or stick afterwards as well, but it won’t take the place of a deep stretch. Decreasing the stretch in the myofascial tissue by rolling it out will increase your flexibility by 10%, increase strength by 5%. Your body really be at an advantage when you take the time to loosen the muscle’s saran wrap. You can incorporate rolling, definitely, at the beginning of your workout and at the end we leave it up to the clients to decide – we want to make sure everyone is doing a little bit of everything each time.

We do want to make sure this is time efficient and you are not spending another hour after your session stretching.  Some people leave their workout saying “I will stretch when I get home”.  The problem is that by the time you get home, your body has already cooled down and the muscles have begun to contract and tighten. In this state, the muscles will retain the acid that causes soreness.  Thus, it is pretty important that you stretch or rollout (or both) directly following a workout, so you can get that acid out of the body and allow your muscles to recuperate.

If you’re interested in learning more about this or are ready to take the next step into a healthier you, my team and I are here to help.  Call our studio to set up an appointment for a complimentary consultation.  We would love to have you come in and find out more about who we are and what we do and see if we are a right fit for one another.  If you have any questions about our personal training, nutrition counseling, or group classes and programs, please contact us at: info@customfitness.biz or 806-322-3188. At Custom Fitness we are YOUR personal trainers in Amarillo, Texas. Have a great day everybody.