Its that time of year again. The leaves are changing colors, pumpkin spice fills the air, and people are busting out their favorite cold weather wear. Whether you like it or not, summer is gone and we are now entering the cold (relatively) days of fall and winter. As it gets colder, we need to address how we approach our workouts, specifically from a preparation standpoint. As many of us have experienced before, getting quality warm up in when it is cold out is much harder than our summer counterpart. This is a concept that, despite being extremely simple, often goes unaddressed. For the next couple of months we will need to take more time to warm up our bodies and prepare them for our workouts if we truly want to get the most out of our workouts. As coaches we do our absolute best in trying to prep you for the workout, but one hour can make it difficult to provide you with an all encompassing warm-up. This is where the responsibility falls upon you to take a little extra time to get a more thorough warm-up in.
Getting the most out of your cold weather workouts starts with making an extra effort to get to the gym at least ten, if not more, minutes earlier than you usually do. I know it is extremely tough for many of you, but an extra ten minutes of warming up can make a big difference in your performance not only during the workout but also for your recovery.
Step 1: Know what you’re doing for that day
A lot of times people have the intention of getting extra mobility or a longer warm-up in, but do not know where to start. The first thing you need to address is what are you doing that day. If you look at the workout and it looks like there will be a good amount of squatting that day, go ahead and gear your warmup towards prepping the hips and midline for the workout. Heres a great hip mobility routine if you need a reference. If the workout involves a lot of hinging movements like kettlebell swings, deadlifts, or dumbbell snatches, be sure to get that posterior chain firing. If you need help composing a proper warm up for that day, please ask a coach!
Step 2: Get Your Sweat On!
Okay, how many times have you been early to class and the first thing you do to start your “warm-up” is hop on a foam roller? Or have you tried to do some band distraction and feel like it just isn’t able to to get the job done? I know I am guilty of this as much as the next person. In reality we should not be hopping on the foam roller or doing anything too static right off the bat. What we should do is aim to get our core body temperature up to increase blood flow throughout the body. My favorite thing to do is utilize the five minute flow , which I have written about before, but hopping on the assault bike or rower and mixing in some dynamic stretches or bodyweight movements will do the trick as well. Just aim to elevate your heart rate a little and get a little sweat going!
Step 3: Time to get Supple
After warming up your body and maybe even getting a lil sweat going, it is a good opportunity to employ some joint mobilizations and some more dynamic stretches. Try out our patented Sweat Shop Megatron Series (co-produced by yours truly) or give Kelly Starretts five way shoulder series a whirl. If you tend to have good joint mobility to just go ahead and do some of the dynamic movements we like to use in our warm ups such as the sampson stretch, elbow to instep, or inchworm into scap push up. If you can’t remember some dynamic stretches go ahead and ask a coach or take a look at this video and use a few of theseYou’ll find that doing these movements when you’re a little more warmed up will allow you to get more out of them.
Step 4: Movement Prep and Activation
The last component of a wholistic workout is activating the muscles in order to prepare them for the movements you’ll do in the workout. These movement prep and activation exercises are never focused on loading or speed, but rather quality and full range of movement. You see a lot of times in classes we will do things like banded walks with the hip circle (the big fabric bands you put around your knees), scap push ups or pull ups, or the crossover symmetry. No one will be impressed by how much you can bottoms up press a kettlebell, or how fast you can walk with a hip circle on, the use of these activation drills is to prepare your body for the big movements you’ll be doing that day. Start by moving slow and with a purpose so you engrain proper movement patterns for later when you are doing your faster compound movements. It can be tricky to know which movements to do, and how to execute them properly, so please ask a coach for some advice on movement selection, and how to perform them correctly.
A Better Warm-Up Creates a Better Mover
As said before it is tough to get into the gym earlier, but it can have a lot of benefits towards your performance in workouts and also on your recovery. I know what I wrote was a lot to take in all at once so lets just go ahead and start with the first two steps: look at the movements before hand and just get to the gym a couple minutes early to increase your core temperature and get a little sweat going. After you have got into the habit of doing those first two, try to add in some extra mobility and dynamic stretches. Once you have those three down, go ahead and add in some activation work, and I guarantee you’ll be impressed by how much better you feel going into and during the workouts. At the end of the day we all want you to feel better and move better. Doing this little bit of extra movement before your workouts can help improve mobility and stability. This not only allows you to move more weight, it also can make you a better mover. That last reason is why a lot of us started working out in the first place, to move better for longer. So when you put it into perspective, an extra 15 minutes of preparation is definitely worth being a better mover throughout your life. You can even make it a goal for the sweaty swag board, its not too late! Please feel free to ask the coaches any questions about how to plan and execute an extra warm up!