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A beginners guide to an effective warm up

A beginners guide to an effective warm up

How many of us see members or clients say 'I'll just warm up quickly'? This normally consists of a few quick minutes on the treadmill/ X-trainer to get the heart rate up. While this is not inherently a bad thing, we are missing vital components of the warm up that will not only improve performance but decrease the risk of injury. 

A decent warm up should be around 8-10 minutes and in best practice should make the client/member feel like they have just done some intense work, we are, after all, preparing them for the session that is to come. This could be strength, plyometrics or even just a cardio session. If you are doing anything of note in the gym, then the likelihood is that you'll be using BIG muscle groups, which are highly susceptible to injury if the right warm up isn't followed.

A good template to follow is RAMP, which allows all aspects of a warm up to be completed and it stands as follows:

R- Raise the heart rate 

As mentioned this is mostly done by everyone, it's common knowledge not to go into the weight room/cardio suite without 'limbering up' first. Bases are generally covered on this.

A M- Activate and mobilise

This is where you will see less participation from clients, or may be seen as the 'boring' part when people just want to lift or run. But it's important to explain why we are doing this, as the average gym-goer may not see any reason why 'they' should be doing mobilisation. 
Activating is actively using the joint for work and mobilising it at the same time, an example of this is can be squats and single leg deadlifts (unweighted) we are trying to push the joint through its range of motion but NOT over extend it. Any exercises that go outside the sagittal plane and include a more transverse focus have been shown to help reduce the risk of injury, mainly because more supporting muscles can be recruited and 'fired'.

P- Potentiate 

Potentiation is the last step in a functional warm up and is the last step before you begin to work, so here it's important to mimic the type of training you will be doing. For instance: if you are about to do an Olympic lifting session, it stands to reason that you are going to be doing explosive movements to build potential within your muscles. 
This step is important but can be clouded with misunderstanding, as most clients won't be doing explosive lifts straight away, or may be reluctant to at all. But what ever you are doing, even if it is just a 2000m Row, the muscles still need to be primed in the right way.

The Fitness Industry is divided amongst itself about the validity of static stretching, some say not at all, other say at the start or end of the session. Personally, I would include any static stretching at the end of the session and make sure I am including mobilisation/ dynamic stretching in the warm up over any static. I would say find what is right for you and try to make that your template, but of course, knowledge is power!