Let me guess—the last workout you did kind of went like this. You drive to the gym after a long day at work. You go into the locker room and change. You go out into the gym, cross your arms across your body, and take a few chugs of your Monster. You lay down on the bench, hit the bar for a set of 10, and it’s on.

Set one was kind of rough, set two was ok, and by set three, you’re starting to warm up. You didn’t get injured today, but you exponentially increased your potential for injury because your next workout and warm up will be pretty much the same.

Sooner or later, the choices you make in the weight room will lead to injury. The severity of the injury isn’t known at this time, but it will happen. You can’t keep loading tons of weight on your joints day in and day out without properly warming up. You might not even be doing full range of motion movements with your exercises. This will compound the issue. But you have a choice.

Think I’m lying?

How prevalent are injuries? Just one look behind the scenes at Elite Fitness Systems and you’ll see that approximately 80 percent of the questions (just from my observations) are injury related.

There are questions like:

·          How do I rehabilitate a knee injury?

·          How do I rehabilitate an ankle injury?

·          How do I rehabilitate a back injury?

·          How do I rehabilitate a shoulder injury?

·          How do I rehabilitate a hip injury?

·          How do I rehabilitate ___?

And the list goes on and on. There are tons of questions, with back and shoulder injuries probably at the top of the list. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts go too hard and too fast without giving any attention to warming up and longevity. It’s a delicate balance that can really turn in your favor with just a small adjustment in your workout.

You create tension in the weight room. This tension weakens the soft tissues and muscle fibers and rebuilds them to a stronger state. The specific adaptation to imposed demands (SAID) principle and the principle of progressive overload is based upon the foundation of tension. More tension equals more adaptation. You are constantly striving to create more tension, more time under tension (TUT), or rapid tension in the shortest amount of time (RFD) to continue your adaptations. These adaptations can be good and bad.

Good adaptations include building muscle and strength (combination of increasing cross sectional area of the muscle fiber—sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and an increasing number of myosin/actin filaments (sarcomeres) inside the cell—and myofibrilar hypertrophy), improving neural efficiency and tendon/ligament density, increasing work capacity, developing specific physiological qualities (dependent upon volume, load, speed, tempo, implement, and application), and so on. But these adaptations occur at a cost.

The bad adaptations include the consequences of the recovery from heavy and prolonged strength training. Tension is stored in these structures (soft tissue—muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia) in the form of shortening, adhesions, trigger points, inflammation, and long-term compensations accumulated over the course of a week, month, season, or lifetime. These dysfunctions and inhibition of movement are increased, dependent upon the percentage of tension (versus current capacity) and restricted range of motion movements coupled with current mobility limitations and restorative practices (SMR, stretching, dynamic movements, dynamic mobility, sleep, good nutrition, contrast baths).

This basically means that if you load up a ton of freaking weight day in and day out and only perform short range of motion movements, you’ll be walking like Frankenstein and get injured from tying your shoe and farting at the same time. What’s the solution? Comprehensive, systematic, consistent applications of a thorough, complete, and encompassing warm up together with mobility drills prior to and after your strength training sessions.

Benefits of a through warm up

·          Increased core temperature

·          Increased elasticity of soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia)

·          Primed central nervous system

·          Increased mobility and flexibility

·          Increased alertness

·          Improved reaction and coordination

·          Improved neural efficiency and motor unit recruitment

·          Real-time baseline assessment of the athlete/lifter of his level of preparedness for the training session

Key note #1

Don’t forget—the movements you do for your warm up can also be done at the end of the workout or on an off day for active recovery. Do them all the time. Consistency is the key.

Key note #2

A warm up should progress from general to specific as you transition into the workout.

Key note #3

Also, there are limitations to current warm up and mobility strategies. Most include movements that are spatially fixed and patterned. We must get outside of these rigid movements! Movements such as squat to stand, leg swings, and tin soldiers lay the foundation for the warm up, but they must be progressed. A warm up that engages more joint angles and more fluid movements should be incorporated.

I’ve been applying these techniques this year with not only myself but all of my athletes. We’ve gotten stronger, and my chronic injuries and limitations have gone away. If your goal is to lift heavy and lift frequently for a few years, then screw it. Who needs mobility work? But if you want to lift for a lifetime, I suggest you put more attention on your preparation.

Here are two videos to get you started.

Highly effective lower body warm up

·          Glute stretch into cossack

·          Wall squats

·          Hip flexor stretch (back leg elevated)

·          Hip flexor/quad stretch

·          Hip flexor stretch and reach

·          Bulgarian split squats

·          Striders into rotational lunges

·          Striders into seated glute stretch

·          Fire hydrants

·          Downward dog into quad squat

·          Cobra into dynamic plough

·          Dynamic adductors, level 1 (narrow)

·          Dynamic adductors, level 2 (wide)

·          Dynamic adductors, level 3 (horizontal squat)

Highly effective upper body warm up

Warm up #1 (perform one run through)

1a) Jump rope, 3 minutes

1b) Foam roller, 30 seconds each area

1c) Shoulder bridging, 10 reps each side

1d) Push-ups, 20 reps

1e) Push-up plus, 10 reps

1f) Kneeling reach through, 5 each side

1g) Banded diesel face pulls, 20 reps

1h) Muscle snatches, 10 reps

Warm up #2 (perform one run through)

1a) Jump rope, 3 minutes

1b) Foam roller, 30 seconds each area

1c) Medicine ball wall dribbling, left to right, 10 times

1d) Dumbbell laterals, 10 reps

1e) Dumbbell flyes, 10 reps

1f) Dumbbell raises, 10 reps

1g) Dumbbell presses, 10 reps

1h) Banded external rotations, 10 reps each arm

1i) Standing rotator “Y”, 10 reps

1j) Dumbbell lateral drops (activation), 15 reps

1k) Plate extensions into halos, 10 reps

Warm up #3 (perform one run through)

1a) Jump rope, 3 minutes

1b) Foam roller, 30 seconds each area

1c) Lat stretches, 5 resets each side

1d) Band shoulder stretches, 3 ways, various

1e) Hindu push-ups, 20 reps

1f) Cable face pulls with external rotation, 10 reps

1g) Cable face pulls, 10 reps

1h) Side lying external dumbbell rotations, 10 reps each side

1i) Blackburns, 10 reps

1j) Full range dumbbell laterals, 10 reps


Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.