The Intent of a Dynamic Warm Up
Written by Bryce Smith
I get many questions from clients asking why I prefer not to perform static stretches and foam rolling prior to their training sessions and my answer is always the same: because I do not want to relax the musculature. Rather, I want to activate musculature and get the body primed for diverse movement patterns. Two of the major goals of a warm up should be to increase core body temperature and tissue blood flow, and to stimulate joint lubrication.
I often assign what I call the “Dirty Thirty” to my clients. They know all too well what this is and are now well trained to perform this task prior to the beginning of our session. It is simply 30 calories on the assault bike where the first fifteen calories are performed at moderate intensity and the second fifteen are performed at a slightly higher intensity. By the time they are done with their “Dirty Thirty,” they have broken a sweat, they have increased blood flow, and they have some joint lubrication.
By moving specific tissues and joints in the body, they become lubricated in what we call synovial fluid. This helps to enhance fluidity in movement and minimize stiffness. I have a silly analogy for you guys. For the sake of this analogy I want you all to think about frozen chicken for a second. When you first take it out of the freezer, it is very stiff and not very pliable. If you immediately strive to move the pieces, you risk ripping apart the chicken and making a mess, or worse injuring yourself. However, if you thaw the chicken by placing it in some hot water, the chicken has a little bit of lubrication and moves a bit easier.
Your body is the same way. Think of that dirty thirty as thawing out your body after sitting or not being very active most of the day. The primary function of this thawing process is to lubricate those joints with synovial fluid which reduces friction of the joints and muscles and makes movement smoother, more fluent, and more efficient. The more you move, the more synovial fluid will saturate the joints and articular cartilage causing a reduced risk for injury or in life. Do not overlook the importance of a dynamic warm-up as it can save you from a horrific injury down the road.
I mentioned above that my clients break a sweat at the conclusion of their Dirty Thirty. This is due to the increase in friction between the musculature causing an increase in core temperature leading to sweating. We sweat so that our body can thermoregulate the heat and keep things in check. Typically the best programmed warm-ups include a general, movement based warm-up combined with a more specific warm-up that caters toward the intent for the day and directly relates to the major movements in the session.
Below is an example of a warm-up that funnels directly to the major movement of the day for a client who is squatting.
Sample Squatting Warm-Up:
– Dirty Thirty (30 cal assault bike)
– 10 x perfect stretch (5 each side)
– 10 x spiderman lunges with hip oscillation (5 each side)
– 10 x cat and cow pose (spinal articulation)
– 5 x bird dog each side (Opposite knee to opposite arm, stimulate core and glute activation, and wake up contralateral movement patterns)
– 5 x single leg glute bridge each side
– 20 second hollow body hold
– 5 x roll-to-candlestick
– 10 x air squat @ 3311 tempo
– 10 x faster air squat
– 10 x jump squat
– Water break, discuss focus of the day, begin squatting
Give this warm-up or a similar warm-up a shot during your next training session and see how your body feels. It may help to sneak a few extra pounds or kilograms on the bar as more muscles will be activated and your joints will be primed to help you reach your full potential.