The days of running a couple of laps around the track and circling up for a 15 minute stretching session are over. In fact, research has actually shown that type of half-hazard warm-up routine to decrease performance! It’s time to integrate a dynamic warm-up into your exercise plan.
What exactly is a ‘dynamic warm-up’? Here is a definition from www.cmcrossroads.com:
“Dynamic stretching, according to Kurz, “involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both.” Do not confuse dynamic stretching with ballistic stretching! Dynamic stretching consists of controlled leg and arm swings that take you (gently!) to the limits of your range of motion. Ballistic stretches involve trying to force a part of the body beyond its range of motion. In dynamic stretches, there are no bounces or “jerky” movements. An example of dynamic stretching would be slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or torso twists.”
I like to define a dynamic warm-up as moving your body through a full, functional range of motion at speed. Specific dynamic stretches, like hand walks, could be included in this definition, in addition to things like low intensity calisthenics: push-ups, sit-ups, and body weight squats.
Here’s a sample of what you could do before a strength training session:
Bodyweight Squat x15
Push-Up with Rotation x10
Plank :30 Hold
We’re moving our upper and lower body through a full range of motion, at speed, and most importantly, through a range of motion we can control.
Or before going for a run, we might:
High Knee 25 yds
Butt Kick 25 yds
Carioca 25 yds
Backpedal 25 yds
Same idea, this warm-up is just a little more specific to our run.
If you want to static stretch, limit it to tight muscles only pre-workout. Post workout, you can static stretch to your heart’s content. Actually, this is the best time to increase flexibility.
Now if you’re just starting out, this may not be the way to go. You need to have a decent base of core strength and flexibility first. I usually start clients out with a lower intensity static stretch focusing on tight muscle groups and some core activation drills in the beginning. This might sound a bit contradictory to the rest of this post, but if we have areas of our body that are super tight or weak, stretching those areas prior to exercise can be a good thing if it improves our movement.
These two sample warm-ups are just very basic examples. If you enjoyed this post on integrating a dynamic warm-up into your exercise plan, I go into much more detail on this and all other aspects of training in my soon-to-be-released Book and DVD set No Gym? No Excuse! Visit the site to grab a free workout and meal plan you can get started with today!