Updated: Nov 20, 2020
A thorough, complete warm up is essential to a productive training session. If you're rolling around on the floor with a lacrosse ball and doing endless mobilizations for 30 minutes you're missing the boat and should be spending your time and efforts elsewhere.
First, let's talk about what a warm up is. It is a structured series of exercises and movements designed to prepare your body for a particular task. When done properly, it will improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. Check out this recent systematic review and meta-analysis on warming up and performance metrics from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
A warm up is NOT meant to fix or mask chronic injuries. If your shoulder has been bugging you for 3 years then jamming a lacrosse ball into it and using voodoo floss is not the answer. Seeing a qualified health professional to solve these problems with you and a qualified strength professional to tailor your training program to you IS the solution for that.
Here is how to program an effective lower body warm up for ANY training goal and how to get it done in just 10 minutes.
Step 1: 0:00-3:00
I like to just generally get moving a little before training to get the heart rate elevated, body temperature up, and blood flow increased. A simple 3 minute cardio circuit moving in more than one plane will get it going.
Try this: 30 seconds of each move x 2 rounds.
-Mini-Split Jump Lunges
Step 2: 3:00-5:00
Full Body Mobility
Proper training in big ranges of motion should enable your body to have great mobility at all times. Sure, sometimes you may feel a little stiff but in the absence of any injuries or chronic muscle tightness (which should be dealt with separately, not attempted to be fixed in a warm up) a few basic mobility exercises should prepare the whole body for training.
Try one of these 2 exercises slowly and continuously for 2 minutes, taking big deep breaths the whole time.
Step 3: 5:00-7:00
We use our core in every single workout to stabilize the spine and pelvis, transmit force from lower to upper extremity, and as a strong platform while our extremities move and produce force. I like to have my clients do a few core exercises with really solid intent before heavy (or any) training.
Try 2 sets of this super-set to supercharge your core pre-training.
-Slider Board Mountain Climbers x 20 reps
-Ab Wheel Rollouts x 5 reps
Make sure to really brace the core on this keeping the ribs crunched down to the pelvis. If your back arches AT ALL you are not ready to perform ab wheels.
Step 4: 7:00-10:00
Depending on the workout the exact exercises will change. If doing a squat focused lower body workout the explosive movement will be more knee dominant. If pulling, it will be more hip dominant. These exercises will increase force production rates prior to strength training to get your body and nervous system primed for intense training. Any jump, throw, swing, sprint, etc will do.
On squat day try...
-3 x 6 total jumps of weighted DB Split Jumps
On pull day try...
-Try 3 x 6 reps of a Banded KB Swing
Woof. I am warmed up just writing this template. Not only will you be prepared for training but you are getting in a solid amount of extra work to help round out your training program and fill in any gaps in your athleticism and fitness.
Stay tuned for the upper body warm up template!