Why We Do Warm Ups

“This is the best thing you’ll ever do that you never know about”.

If you ever played GAA as a kid, your idea of a warm up will probably be togging out, a few laps of the pitch, some arm swings and a couple of hamstring stretches. Then it’s straight into a few ball drills and a match.

That doesn’t cut it anymore.

A TRUE warm up is about preparing your  body for the demands that lie ahead, and ensuring all your systems are functioning optimally.

There’s 3 things we focus on during our warm ups in RevFit

  1. Breathing and core control
  2. Muscle tissue length & quality
  3. Activation and recruitment

The set position for 90/90 breathing

BREATHING
Everything starts with breathing. Because we spend so much time sitting down on a chair, our core doesn’t have to do as much work as it used to. Instead of firing to protect your back, you end up just hanging out of your spine.

Most back problems come as a direct result of the dysfunctions  caused by too much sitting. And it all starts with breathing and core control. There’s no point stretching our your legs / hips / back if the muscles responsible for STABILISING (ie protecting) that area don’t work

The main breathing exercise we use is called a 90/90 breathing drill. You can see a bit about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2OFz37JHug

MUSCLE TISSUE LENGTH & QUALITY
There’s a dirty little secret I’m gonna get in trouble for telling you. Foam rolling doesn’t actually make your muscles longer. Nor does it “stretch” your IT band. Foam rolling is an essential part of a good warm up for most people, but it doesn’t work the way you think it does.

See like I said previously, your body’s only job is to survive thru until tomorrow. Excessive range of motion and laxity is an injury risk (…also an essential part of normal movement, but perceived as an injury risk nonetheless). That means your body will in essence ‘lock up’ over time if you’re not moving thru a full range of motion (ROM).

You can’t bully it into giving you back that ROM. Instead, it needs to be coaxed and persuaded into it. Almost every square inch of your body is covered by nerve fibres that start at your spinal cord and extend out to the very top layer of your skin. When you foam roll, you’re basically giving those guys a nice little rub and a signal that everything is ok.

They feed back to your body saying “it’s cool, he’s being sound to us today, let him have some range of motion”, and in doing that you move better. If I knocked you out cold I could do all manner of things with your limbs I couldn’t normally do because your brain isn’t awake to resist me. That’s what you’re trying to achieve with foam rolling.  It’s the second thing we do in our warm ups.

Despite hundreds of cheap knock offs, the original “Grid” foam roller is still the best.

From there, you can start to gently stretch and move thru a full range of joint motion, with static and dynamic stretches. It’s a very common mistake to think a lack of range of motion is caused by mobility problems. For the most part, it’s caused by some sort of stability issue. Your body won’t grant you movement and range of motion unless it feels safe to do so. More on that another day.

I recommend you find 15-20 minutes each day to get some sort of movement and stretching done. It’s as simple as plopping yourself down in front of NetFlix and following along with something like ROMwod, which is an online stretching app designed specifically for people who run, jump, lifts weights and do squats. No thought required. It’s only $10/month and you can get a 14 day trial here: https://romwod.com/members/aff/go/revfit

ROMWOD - Optimize Your Range of Motion

ACTIVATION & RECRUITMENT
The final piece of the puzzle is firing up the right muscles to do their jobs at the right time. The right muscles. At the right time. Every muscle has a function. Some are just a bit over eager. The main one’s we’re talking about here that should work, but don’t are your glutes / ass / bum and the muscles responsible for shoulder stabilisation around your scapula (there’s quite a few so instead of listing em individually I’m using this as a catch all).

I’m purposely not showing you any activation based work in this because HOW you do it is just as important as doing it, and I don’t want you to try it on your own and make a balls of it. You’ll see it in the gym, don’t worry.

We coach you thru the entire warm up, and it changes depending on what muscles and movements are being worked each day. When all is said and done, it takes 10-15 minutes to get thru it.

Gymnastics – The ultimate test of shoulder stability

When done right, it’ll start to resolve chronic back, knee and hip pain. But you probably won’t even notice happening at the time. It’s why it’s the best thing you’ll ever do that you’ll never know about. Done right – you won’t feel any effect. You’ll just stop being in pain.

Ever since we implemented this new structure 6 months ago the amount of back issues and injuries in RevFit has decreased massively. We were never prone to breaking people, but now we have guys and girls who have completely forgotten that 3 months ago their normal state of being was back pain and stiffness when they wake up each morning.

Now being normal and healthy is just who they are. It’s mad to see. And crazy rewarding for us as coaches.

Moral of the story?

Show up on time for class. Do your warm ups.

PS – if you’re looking for an at home stretching and movement series to do, have a look at Joe DeFranco’s Limber 11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSSDLDhbacc

PPS – not already training at RevFit but want to get started? Head on over here to book a free personal training intro session: http://revolutionfitness.ie/trial/

James Hanley

Strength Coach. Performance Specialist. Dog Lover. Powerlifter. And the guy behind the scenes in RevFit that keeps the plates spinning.