What should a warm up look like?
I think it is a necessary part of going into any athletic endeavor and in my opinion is usually either over or under done in the majority of cases. It is never a good idea to go into an activity like playing a sport or working out cold.
On the other hand, you also don’t need to spend 30 minutes getting your body ready either. Think of it as a way to prime all of the systems of your body for the activity you are about to perform nothing less, nothing more.
In my experience most people either don’t do enough warm up or do too long of one with a bunch of unnecessary movements or exercises. I like to keep my warms ups short and sweet and break them up into four phases: General warm up, movement/correctives, speed work and activity specific movements.
General Warm Up:
The general warm is plain and simple. This would be low intensity cardiovascular activity such as riding a bike, elliptical, rower etc. for 5 minutes or so.
The sole purpose of this is just to get your heart pumping, get your temperature up and your body moving.
The second stage would be mobility work/corrective exercises. This should be quick and focused on each person’s individual limitations as well as s general movements related to the workout or activity that is about to be performed.
This portion should take about 3-5 minutes maximum.
For a workout this can also be done as filler between sets and is not necessarily needed in the warm up. I think mobility work or correctives if truly needed should be done on a daily basis and only specific movements that are needed.
A good general 5-10 minute daily morning movement program doesn’t hurt either. As far as warm ups go this is where I feel people spend too much time. There is no need to roll around on a foam roller for 15 minutes then spend another 15 minutes dong corrective and mobility exercises. Get in attack the areas you need to work on and move on.
The third phase is speed drills or movements and this can consist of swing speed drills, jumping, Olympic lifts or swings and/or medicine ball work. The goal here is get your body moving fast and prime the nervous system for what is ahead.
Again a few exercises, 1-3 maximum, should be utilized here keeping reps low for 3-5 sets moving as fast as possible. You always want to do speed work when you are fresh never at the end of a workout to maximize effectiveness. Some may consider this as part of the actual workout which is fine with me.
For a pre-round workout turning the club around or using an alignment stick and making 2-3 sets of fast swings both left and right handed is a great way to prime your system for speed.
Lastly is the activity specific warm up. This is just like it sounds doing a low intensity version of the activity you are about to perform.
An example of this would be if you are squatting as your main lift for a particular workout then this would be your warm up sets of the squat variation you will be using. I recommend 3-5 warm ups sets for the first lift and no more than 2-3 for all others if any. Here you are using light weights and focusing on the proper movement and mechanics.
The second example would be hitting balls and this would obviously occur prior to a round or just be your activity if it is a practice day. This is where you focus on your swing and the skills associated with it as well as getting mentally prepared for your round.
In my opinion the warm up, not counting the last phase which I consider part of the main workout or activity, should take no more than about 15 minutes and realistically that is not always necessary.
For me personally my warm up consist of Assault bike x 5 minutes, speed work and activity prep. I generally work in mobility work/correctives as filler between sets or on off days. I see too many people spending 30 minutes doing foam roller, mobility drills and correctives only to have the meat of their workout be far from enough.
Dan john and Mark Rippetoe both said it best “If you want to get better at the squat then you should squat.” To me the best warm up is a low intensity version of the activity you are going to perform. Once you get you heart rate up and body moving which should not take a real long time then you are ready to jump into you work out or activity. In the gym those are light sets of the first exercise you are doing. If that is pre-round, then getting a proper warm up on the range and short game area once you have got your body warmed up with some basic movements as detailed above.
With all that being said this will differ from person to person. If you difficulty squatting or limitations in your swing due to specific movement limitations or weaknesses then they may need to spend more time in your warm up focusing on those. This is where a proper evaluation comes in to find those deficits and attack them so that the person can get back to the activity at hand with proper movement or mechanics.
I hate hearing a trainer or coach say you can’t squat until your hip mobility improves or you can’t dead lift until you can touch your toes. I can always find a safe and effective way to have someone squat such as box squats or dead lift such as rack pulls while simultaneously improving their mobility or stability so that they can improve in those lifts.
Warm ups should get your heart pumping and nervous system primed and ready for the activity at hand. A good warm up with get you moving, prepare your joints,muscles, nervous system etc for the planned activity ahead. They are a necessary part of participating in sports or working out but should not have to take an hour tom complete.
In the gym get you body moving, hit your problem ares and do light versions of the exercise you will be starting with. On the course or practice range, get your body moving, hit problem areas and get to the range and short game area and get to work.
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