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The Warm-Up: Does It Really Matter?

Here at Resilient Fitness, we put a lot of emphasis on the warm-up. Oftentimes, the warm-up takes up to 15 minutes of class time. So why do we spend so much time warming up? Wouldn't that time be better spent actually working out? Is it really that big of a deal to skip the warm-up?

Before we answer those questions, let's start with what a warm-up is. A warm-up is generally exactly what it sounds like: movements to literally generate heat and energy in your body. Physiologically, when you are warming up, your body is increasing its temperature as well as blood flow. More blood flow means more oxygenated blood is being carried to your muscles. This will allow your muscles to better contract and relax without injury. Additionally, the warm-up allows your cardiovascular and nervous system to gradually ramp up to better accommodate the strenuous activity.

In short, when you warm up, your body is preparing itself and the necessary physiological systems, such as your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, to perform for an extended period of time. We also program your warm-ups to prepare your body for the movements we will perform that day. In other words, the warm-up will consist of moves that focus on the "biggest" or most demanding move of the day. For example, if it's a squat day, the warm-up will consist of moves that prepare your body to squat.

At Resilient Fitness, we program your warm-up in a specific order to best prep your body. Generally, the warm-ups follow this formula:

  1. Self soft-tissue or myofascial release-- This is most often accomplished by foam rolling.

  2. Bi-phasic stretching-- "Bi-phasic" means you are alternating stretching with no movement and stretching with movement. This is usually accomplished by the hip flexor stretch, adductor rocks, and pec/lat stretches.

  3. Corrective movements-- During this phase of the warm-up, we want to see how your motor control is, how you sequence your movements, and if there are any patterns that need correcting. This is the phase of the warm-up where you do bird dogs and lateral bird dogs.

  4. Stability-based activation-- During this phase, we want to prepare the body to enhance the muscle's contraction quality to exert better control over the movement. We use glute bridges, pull aparts, up and overs and face pulls to accomplish this.

  5. Movement pattern development-- In a nutshell, we want to train whatever our big strength move is for the day. If we're doing squats for our main movement, we're doing squats to warm up! Goblet squats, RDLs, and push-ups are all used for movement pattern development.

  6. Central Nervous System development-- During this phase, we use high-velocity movements to activate the central nervous system. This is where we do explosive jacks, seal jacks, med ball slams, or jumps.

By using this 6-phase warm-up, we are making sure to put your body in the best position to succeed during the workout. Additionally, by warming up, you are minimizing the chance of injury by allowing your muscles to get warmer and more pliable. In short, the warm-up is a critical part of your workout and it's important to allow yourself the time to get properly warmed up both physically and mentally.

- Coach Karina

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