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Importance of a Warm­Up Prior to Performance

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Mike Moon, CFSC, CSCS

Before my time at Next Level, I had an avid and extensive background in being a meathead; I lifted heavy iron in pursuit of being the biggest and strongest football player I could be. From my self­taught YMCA lifting sessions, to lifting with BFS through high school, and on to our workouts at Ithaca College, I always thought all that mattered was the number. The number I could bench, the number I could squat, the number I could deadlift, and the number I could clean would make me the best. Looking back on it, I wasn’t half as bad as the guys that cared about the number they could preacher curl, the number on the leg extension, or the number of sit­ups they could do in a minute.

Over the ten years prior to my arrival at Next Level, I always seemed to have a nagging injury that would hold me back in my quest to have the biggest numbers. It didn’t always come on the field, actually it was most often from something in the weight room. Looking back now, we did not practice a far too­neglected aspect of performance, and subsequently injury prevention, the warm­up! We would walk into the weight room, grab our lifting cards, and set up the squat rack for the first set of the day. We performed the amount of reps prescribed for as much weight as we could do each set, finished with some “ab work” at the end of the session and called it a day. I can honestly say in the three years I have been with Next Level that I would be a far superior athlete (if I still had the eligibility to compete) now than I ever was in high school or college, and albeit I’m not on the field competing anymore, I have yet to experience any injuries!

Far too often athletes walk into a facility and run straight to the squat rack or bench to start in on their first sets of the day. The majority of these people were just sitting in a car on their way to our facility, with a high percentage of those sitting at home or at their job prior to their arrival. It’s critical for those who are serious about making progress toward whatever their goal may be to take the time to engage in a proper warm up specific to their sport or exercise of the day to prepare the body for movement.

The goal of any warm up should be to improve performance and decrease the risk of injury. A warm up produces and elevation in body temperature, which has many positive physiological effects on the body:

● Muscles and tendons become more extensible, allowing for greater ROM and decreased instances of muscle strains

● An increase in blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients to working muscles

● An increase in metabolic activity at the muscle improves efficiency of muscle contraction

● Removal of lactic acid and other metabolites that otherwise inhibit muscle contraction, force output, and the process of recovery

● Activation of neural pathways enhances motor control and efficiency

● An increased production of synovial fluid located between joints that reduces friction

At Next Level, we usually like to start a session with a foam roll to decrease the density of different muscles, where we seek out trigger points, or knots, that may be hindering mobility and performance. After this soft tissue work, we incorporate static stretches for specific muscles to undergo an increase in length to allow for greater flexibility and range of motion, which is crucial for long­term injury prevention.

● Many soft tissue experts recommend stretching while the muscle is “cold” because a cold muscle may actually undergo a deformation and experience a change in length, while a warm muscle will lengthen and then return to it’s original length.

After a static stretch, we incorporate a dynamic warm­up that raises body temperature and moves each joint through a full range of motion. Any potential decrease in power that would come from static stretching would be negated through a proper dynamic warm up.

If you’re not incorporating a proper warm up into your daily workout routine, you are denying your body the ability to work to it’s greatest potential! Take 10­15 minutes at the beginning of your day to prep your body for activity and reap the greatest benefits from all that work you’re putting in!

Michael Moon, CSCS, CFSC
Strength Coach at Next Level Strength and Conditioning


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