A proper dynamic warm-up routine can make an immense difference in your ability to workout safely and successfully. Your conventional stretching program is probably useful for after you finish your training, but you need to move dynamically to warm-up properly!
The main reason that a large number of athletes- from professionals to novices don’t warm-up correctly is that they don’t understand the major differences between static and dynamic stretching.
If more people knew that dynamic stretching was more beneficial than static stretching before training, I am sure they would do it.
Warm-ups are very underrated. A lot of people have tried skipping warm-ups because they feel that it’s pointless, that it only wastes energy better spent on the actual exercises, and that it doesn’t really add anything useful to the program.
Any health and fitness expert can tell you that this belief cannot be farther away from the truth.
Regardless of what kind of physical activity you will be taking part of, it is important to make sure that your body is warmed-up first.
Warm-up exercises not only loosen the joints and muscles of one’s body, it also helps ready the mind for what’s ahead.
Warming-up is like placing both your mind and body into a prepared state of conditioning.
What Exactly Happens When We Warm-up?
As the name implies, warm-up exercises are designed to warm our body. We take on a series of simple and repetitive movements to slowly build-up the bones and muscles for further action. As we do this, the body’s core temperature starts to increase as well.
The increased body heat generated by repeated muscle movements help make our actions look more flexible and controlled.
Improved flexibility in the movements can then lead to lessen risks for injuries like muscle tears and pulls.
Additionally, the mind and body are able to create and follow a certain flow or rhythm that significantly improves our performance for the upcoming activities.
Regardless of what type of workout you are about to take on, the main goal of your warm-up should be:
- Increase Your Body Temperature
- Bring a Substantial Amount of Oxygen into Your Bloodstream
- Stimulate Your Central Nervous System (CNS)
- Condition Your Muscles, Joints, Tendons, and Ligaments for the Forthcoming Movements
After learning how to warm-up properly, I am positive that you will notice an improvement in:
- Energy and Daily Fatigue
- Day to Day Muscle Soreness
- Frequency of Injuries
- Ability to Perform During Your Workout
If you would like to understand more about the importance of a dynamic warm-up and the best warm-up exercises, keep reading below!
Why Do Many Warm-Ups Fail?
There are a few clear differences between static and dynamic stretching, which is the sole reason why most warm-ups fail.
When most people warm-up for training or physical exercise they walk into a gym and do a few “stretches” based on what they learned in Physical Education class.
After a few general stretches, they move straight to the weights and start lifting.
These type of warm-ups are not ideal for any workout, and there are many negative consequences to warming up poorly.
The most notable negative side-effect of static stretching before your workout is a reduction in physical “power.” Power is the ability of your body to produce force over an object, and your physical power is dampened by doing passive stretching before your workout.
There have been many studies done on the negative effects of static stretching, particularly one published in the Journal of Human Sciences.
The study was conducted to determine the effects of static stretching on vertical jump performance in children.
As stated in the study, “static stretching practice after general warming up effects vertical jump performance negatively.”
There are many reasons that static stretching contributes to a decrease in power production, including the fact that passive stretching does not activate the Central Nervous System properly. Dynamic warm-ups prime your Central Nervous System and your mind congruently, resulting in a far better work-out!
Your Warm-up Is Part of Your Workout
Another reason that doing static stretching alone as your “warm-up” before training is a bad idea is that you need to utilize this time to assess and treat weaknesses in your body so that you can train effectively.
Many athletes have problems such as weak hips, poor glute activation, unstable ankle and knees, and other structural issues.
The “work-out” does not begin when you start lifting weights; it begins when you warm-up. Instead of passively stretching a few muscles, use your warm-up time to activate muscles, prepare your body and mind for the workout ahead, and improve any imbalances or weaknesses that are plaguing you.
Improving your daily warm-up routine is one of the easiest ways to make long-term differences in your body!
Keys to An Effective Dynamic Warm-Up Routine
A well-rounded warm-up prepares your body and nervous system for the intensity of the workout, you have planned for yourself.
When you warm-up properly, you will improve the quality of your movements and eliminate your weak links. Along with that, you also clear waste (such as lactic acid) and toxins from your muscles, allowing your muscles and joints to work naturally.
If you are looking to find a precise warm-up routine, I do not have one for you. The reason is that I don’t follow a precise warm-up routine each day.
Realistically, 30 minutes of vinyasa yoga would be as effective as anything else to warm-up your body before a workout. However, not everyone has time for 30 minutes of yoga before they train.
Instead, 10-minutes of dynamic stretches, muscle activation drills, and movement preparation is enough for most people. Check out these dynamic warm-up exercises and options:
Myofascial Massage Therapy
Myofascial massage therapy, such as foam rolling, is an excellent way to begin your dynamic stretching routine.
Spend a few minutes targeting your calves, groin, quads, glutes, IT band, lats and upper backs using a foam roller or some other form of self-massage tool. I don’t suggest spending much more than five or ten minutes foam rolling, because it’s meant to stimulate your circulation and loosen your muscles gently.
If you are doing much more than ten minutes of foam rolling before you train I believe you are wasting your time.
Central Nervous System Activation
After your self-massage or other myofascial massage is over, the next step in a proper dynamic warm-up routine is central nervous system activation.
There are a variety of different exercises that are effective at stimulating the central nervous system, but my favorite is the agility ladder.
Even if you are going to be training your upper body, taking five or ten minutes to do a few agility ladder drills will enhance your workout. Not only does the agility ladder improve your running speed, quickness, calve and ankle strength and cardiovascular endurance, but it helps to synchronize your mind and muscles together as well.
You can check out one of my favorite agility ladder drills below.
Using the agility ladder is a conservative form of central nervous system activation, and but a more intense form is the Jacob’s Ladder Exercise. Many people save the Jacob’s Ladder for their “finisher” of the day, but it can work just as well as a CNS activation exercise!
Personally, I always do some specific muscle activation exercises after my central nervous system activation training.
Depending on the muscle group you are working, the muscle activation exercises for your warm-up routine will be different.
I will give you a few examples though.
One of the most common muscle activation exercises is the glute bridge. For me, I do glute bridges on every leg day.
I don’t only do basic glute bridges though, I have advanced over time.
Not only do I train the bilateral glute bridges though, but I also train unilateral glute bridges as well. The muscle activation phase is one of the most important parts of your workout for fixing imbalances and weaknesses in your body.
The single leg glute bridge is an excellent example of a warm-up exercise I used to improve the balance between my quadriceps and my hamstrings; as well as my left and right legs.
Although it is important to warm-up individual muscle groups based on what you are going to be training, I do a series of “core” exercises before all types of workouts.
Many people confuse proper core strength with “ab training,” causing many structural issues. To fix these issues, doing exercises such as the Bird Dog or Dead Bug will improve your core strength and stability to support your body.
Dynamic Stretches for Your Warm-Up Routine
The last portion of a proper dynamic warm-up routine is the dynamic stretches.
There are generally two types of stretching. Dynamic stretching refers to continuous movement as you go through a range of different motions. Static stretching, on the other hand, is when you stretch your muscles and hold them in position for a period of time.
Dynamic stretches are functional moment stretches to stimulate your muscles and your mind further, improving your ability to train.
Dynamic stretching is advised for warm-up exercises because it keeps the blood running and the muscles active.
Static stretching is more suitable for cooling down, as the muscles are flexed in place to resist injury.
There are tons of different dynamic stretches to do, but I am sure you already know plenty of them. An easy way to do dynamic stretching is to move through your normal passive stretching poses but with a steady and increased tempo. Never rush your “stretching,” but feel free to speed it up gently.
One example of this is the 3rd World Squat Mobility Drill which I commonly use on leg day.
Concluding Thoughts -How to Do a Proper Dynamic Warm-Up Program
Dynamic stretching is similar to static stretching, but a proper dynamic warm-up is much different.
Often, people consider a proper warm-up is only necessary for college or professional athletes, but this is not true at all.
If you are an office worker, a proper warm-up routine will help your body function better, so it is less sore during the day and fresher during your workout.
If you are a bodybuilder or fitness model, a proper dynamic warm-up will help you build a symmetrical and aesthetic physique!
Warming-up helps your body recognize that physical activity is ongoing while significantly decreasing your chances of getting hurt. When creating your own set of warm-up exercises, always remember that your warm-up routine should not cause you fatigue.
If you are getting tired just from the warm-up exercises, it means you need to change up your selection. There are a variety of warm-up exercises to choose from, so make sure you focus on what your body needs as well as what your fitness level can support.
Regardless of your goals with fitness training, a proper dynamic warm-up program will improve your body and your workout!