What is the ideal gym warm-up?

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Modern-day, in most cases, is characterized by two things; lack of time combined with stressful situations and prolonged sitting sessions. When you travel to your workplace, you are sitting in your car or public transport. When you finally reach your workplace after all those traffic jams, again, you probably sit down and start working.  

You are “stuck” in that sitting pose for 8, 9 or even 10 hours per day and at the end of the day, you finally do something for yourself and go to do some workout. The training starting point is a topic of interest in this article. What shall I do to warm-up, considering my body status? What are the key warm-up guidelines? What warm-up goals should I pursuit, and how to achieve them? Find out more in the following paragraphs. 

How should I start my gym workout?

The first thing to do, after all those “crampy hours” is relaxation.  You need those muscles to loosen up a bit so they can optimally prepare for further training in a gym.  You achieve that by rolling on a foam roller or a lacrosse ball. 

There are two different approaches with these relaxation tools, one is rolling over compete muscles and the other one is pressing the “crampy” dot in your muscle combined with an extension of opposite muscle. Combine both of them. 

Increasing your Range of Motion

Now when you are properly relaxed, it is time to wake-up your joints.  The key thing here is mobilization exercises. Those exercises will secure an increased range of motion (ROM) in your joints and optimize them for incoming workout load. 

Thoracic spine, shoulders, lats, lower back and hips are major regions you should take care of. Also, smaller regions like ankles should be properly mobilized. There are numerous bodyweight mobilization exercise and some which include training tools like elastic band or kettlebells.

Dynamic Stretching

Training is a dynamic exchange of contracting and releasing muscles. Daily, people are making a mistake by including only static stretches in their warmup. You want to prepare your muscles for the gym workout with dynamic stretches. By doing them, you will simulate training conditions when it comes to muscle contract-extend circles. 

Pectoralis muscles, lats, core muscles, quads, hamstrings, glutes… You name it. All of them are contracting and extending dynamically while you are working out. Prepare them optimally for incoming load with dynamic stretches. 

Activation phase

You went through three warm-up phases, and now it is time for you to enter the muscle activation phase.

Simple bodyweight exercise like a different version of planks, side planks, bird-dog, glute bridges, wall sits will work fine for you. 

You can include elastic bands into your muscle activation routine. Pulling, pressing, hip hinge, squat and rotation movement patterns are the holy grail of every training warm-up. 

These small exercises will turn on your muscles and prepare them for the incoming workout load, either if you are a random desk worker or a basketball athlete on the top NBA expert picks.

No more treadmill

Now when you got all guidelines for creating proper warm-up routine it is time to implement them. The good starting point is to quit a treadmill as a warm-up tool. It seems ridiculous, as treadmills are normally the starting points according to most personal trainer. However, the only thing you can get there is a body temperature lift and that is not enough. 

Investigate mobility and dynamic stretching routines is an ideal step towards proper gym work out. Find some muscle activation exercises and adapt them to your current training level. In the end, remember that only a free muscle is a pain-free muscle that can contract and release properly.