Today I’d like to focus on this question: What should I do to warm-up before each workout?
This question is common because you’re used to showing up to a class at RxFIT and having a warm-up programmed for you.
There’s no question for the necessity of a warm-up, but what is less known is that there are two components: a general warm-up and a specific warm-up.
General Warm-Up: Anything that’s going to elevate your heart rate and get your body warm. Examples include an 800-meter run, 4-minutes on the bike, or dynamic stretches (i.e. high-knees, frankensteins, grass pickers, etc.) My recommendation would be to write your own general warm-up and do it every day for a week before the competition (do it before the class starts). This has two benefits:
First, your body starts to get in a rhythm. Most professional athletes do the same warm-up routine before every game or event because it sets their mind. The general warm-up starts to become a warm-up for both your body and your mind.
And second, you will know exactly what you need to do in order to be ready for an event. Right before a workout during a fitness competition, your nerves will get to you and cause you to warm-up excessively. If you’re in a habit of doing the same general warm-up every day, you will know exactly how early you need to start your warm-up (so you won’t spend unnecessary energy warming-up).
Specific Warm-Up: Anything that you need to spend additional time working on in order to perform a movement. For example, if the workout has heavy deadlifts, you will want to spend some time lifting moderate to heavy loads during your specific warm-up. Or if there are a lot of pull-ups in the upcoming workout, you will want to spend some time hanging from a bar and warming-up your lats by doing kip swings.
This is different than the general warm-up as it is not the same thing every time. Do the same 5-minute general warm-up before every workout. Then spend another 5-minutes priming the joints and muscles needed for the upcoming movements (specific warm-up).
The tendency in fitness competitions is to spend too much time warming-up. This is due to your nerves. But if you know before the competition not only what you need to do to warm-up, but also how much time, you will be calm leading up to the event.
Here’s what I recommend you do: This week, write out your general warm-up. Include 5-minutes of movements that will cause you to break a sweat, but not wear you out. Include all major joints and muscles in the movements you choose (shoulders, hips, knees). The less reliant you are on equipment, the better — that way you aren’t dependent on the gym to provide equipment for you in the warm-up area. You’re going to do this four times on Saturday, once before each event.
Then, after completing your 5-minute general warm-up, spend additional time on the joints and muscles that will be worked in the upcoming movements. This is where you will load barbells and start moving heavier loads, faster.
Remember, give yourself a 5-minute grace period. Many competitions require that the next heat line up in a line 5-minutes before the end of the current heat. So for me, I always start my general warm-up 15-minutes before my heat start time. Then I can complete both my general and specific warm-ups before lining up 5-minutes before I enter the competition floor.
I hope this calms the nerves and primes your body before each workout this Saturday!
Other Articles in This Series:
Game Day Nutrition
Comparing Yourself to the Competition
Recovering Between Workouts
What About My Friends and Family?