It’s been well documented that mobility has a direct functional effect on the movements needed for strength training. For an athlete, with improved mobility comes the ability to perform exercises with efficiency and power – both of which directly impact sport performance.
With all that in mind, our focus today is on pre-workout warm-ups. To help break this down, here’s a 3 step approach:
Step 1: Cardio Exercise to Increase Body Temperature
The goal is to bring the body to a light to moderate sweat. Everyone is different when it comes to the duration of exercise needed to sweat. As a general guideline, 5-10 minutes on the treadmill, bike, stair master, or elliptical should suffice.
*Note: A study in 2013 (Barroso) showed a 15 minute warmup was superior to a 5 minute warmup in the performance of a 1 rep max leg press. For most workouts, athletes won’t be attempting a 1 rep max. A 5-10 minute workout will typically be enough.
Step 2: Static and Dynamic Stretching followed by Foam Rolling
Depending on the type, stretching before exercise can impair performance. A review done in 2011 (Behm) showed static stretching resulted in significant impairments to performance while dynamic stretching resulted in no impairments.
For most athletes, foam rolling is a great way to loosen specific areas in the body (low back, t-spine, hips) before exercising. In addition, research from 2013 showed small amounts of foam rolling to the quads increased knee range of motion.
Step 3: Sport Specific Warmup
Before every exercise, athletes should perform each movement with lighter weight. For instance, if the athlete is scheduled to perform a bench press, he or she should warm up doing the exact movement required for the bench press, only with lighter weight.
Additional time is required to properly perform mobility exercises, so plan ahead before your next workout to get in an effective warm-up. In the long run, the mobility benefits will be worth your extra time!
Craig Richards, NASM, is a certified National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) trainer at Brad Kolowich Jr. Personal Training in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a Backelor’s degree from Bob Jones University in Health, Fitness and Recreation. Follow Craig on Twitter @CraigryRichards