The Easiest Way to Get More From Your Warm Up
The warm up…
Many think it is unimportant and skip it all together, others tout it as the most important part of your training program and end up spending 30 minutes on it.
While I am in the camp that a training session is either set up for success or failure based on your warm up (this doesn’t mean a 30 minute warm up though), we often overlook and fail to achieve one of the most basic purposes of the warm up.
What is it?
One of the main goals of the warm up is to increase your core temperature as well as the temperature of your tissues.
I mean it is called “The Warm Up” for a reason, so we should get warm!
While quite a few athletes explain to me that they are always hot (I’m looking at you ladies 🙂 ), just because you feel like you are never cool enough does not mean that your core temperature and the temperature of your tissues is as the optimal point for training and performance.
When your core and tissue temperatures are elevated it makes it easier for your muscles and joints to move more freely.
When they are not, getting in to positions such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc. are much more difficult. And if you are trying to prepare your body for sprints, jumps, cuts, etc. cold, stiff muscles and joints are not going to work out too well.
So with this in mind, what are the three easiest ways to ensure you are elevating your core and tissue temperature to a sufficient level?
Eat or drink something hot (and with caffeine if you can tolerate it).
When you consume warm food or liquids, the temperature of the food/drink helps to increase core temperature. Seems pretty simple, and well, it is!
But I know that many of you cannot eat directly before training because you feel that you will definitely become reacquainted with it a few minutes into training (I on the other hand can eat a whole cow and be fine…weird I know).
Even if you cannot eat before training, most of us are pretty good with liquids.
So try some hot coffee, tea or other drink you enjoy hot.
Just try to refrain from the sugar laden cookie flavored hot chocolate or whatever ridiculous beverage is available nowadays.
And if you can tolerate caffeine, opt for the caffeinated version of coffee or tea as the caffeine will transiently increase metabolic rate. This will also help increase core temperature.
2. Put on layers.
Maybe another “Duh” statement (I make them a lot), but the more clothes you have on the warmer you will be.
Try starting by putting on a sweatshirt and athletic pants that you can strip off as you warm up.
You don’t have wear a snow suit, hats and gloves…even a long sleeve shirt and pants will suffice.
And you don’t have to wait until you are pouring sweat, just long enough to get a little “clammy” so to speak.
This may be the easiest way to help you increase your core and tissue temperature, but it is one that is often overlooked, especially during the warmer times of year.
Just remember that most facilities have some sort of air conditioning. So you don’t have to wear your gear to the gym, just throw it in your bag for when you get there…it is likely pretty cool inside.
3. Go “old school” warm up first.
While science has shown time and again that a dynamic warm that utilizes more specific patterns such as high knees, butt kicks, lateral shuffles, etc. is superior to simply jumping on a bike, treadmill, elliptical, etc,, getting on the bike (or other equipment) for a few minutes prior to the start of your specific warm up can help.
Getting your temperature up before getting on the foam roller, stretching out and doing some mobility drills helps to enhance the outcome of those drills.
To reiterate, going from the machine of choice directly into your high intensity working sets is not suggested, but getting a few minutes in before a more specific warm up is warranted.
Combine all three of the tips above by sipping on some coffee on your way to training, throwing on a sweat shirt and pants and jumping on the bike before you get to your specific warm up and you will be well on your way to a more productive training session.
Stay tuned for the next article where I will go over what constitutes a quality warm, and how to consolidate the warm up so you don’t spend the first 30 minutes of your session warming up.
Help spread these simple steps to a better warm up by sharing it with your friends, family and everyone else you care about!
To your health and performance,