Monthly Archive: November 2016

How to Warm-Up for Training

Years ago, I used to hit the gym and immediately start lifting.

Not only didn’t I do a proper warm-up, I didn’t even consider any mobility or flexibility work as important. I just wanted to grind.

warm-up before workout

It took a few years to get the message. The most important part of a workout is the warm-up!

Why?

Because it will help keep you injury-free.

You may think you don’t have time for a proper warm-up, but being laid off due to a pulled muscle, sprain or other injury takes far more time away from your training.

You’ll also be stronger — especially if you focus on dynamic stretches and mobility (as opposed to deep, isometric stretches). Mobility gets the blood circulating into the muscles, lubricates the joints, and primes the central nervous system for more work.

So how do you properly warm-up for training?

Start with some simple joint rotations. 

Joint mobility is a great way to bridge the gap between static resting and training. Rotating your joints throughout their full range of motion produces synovial fluid as the joints articulate, which helps ‘lubricate’ them. In addition, the muscles and nervous system will be warmed up for more work.

Think of the following:

  • Head circles
  • Shoulder circles
  • Arm circles
  • Elbow and wrist circles
  • Hip circles or torso rotations
  • Knee circles
  • Ankle or foot circles

Start with smaller rotations and increase the range if possible with every few repetitions.

Watch the video below and practice to keep your joints health and ready for action.

From there, you can so a brief cardio warmup, just to get the blood flowing even more. Anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes will suffice, depending on your level of fitness. This part of the warm-up could consist of:

  • Jump rope
  • Light run
  • Jogging in place
  • Marching with high knees
  • Light shadow boxing
  • Rowing machine, light pace

Once you are warmed up with some joint rotations and light cardio, you’re ready to move onto some dynamic or light stretches. The goal here is not deep flexibility work. You want to loosen the muscles up, not over-extend them. Deep stretches can actually make you weaker, so they’re not advised pre-workout.

Think of this part as mobility work. And I’ll say it once more — keep the stretches light.

Here are some examples of some moves I like to do before any training session:

Wrist Mobility Work:

Fire Hydrants & Get On The Horse:

Squat to Lunge:

Shoulder Extension & Biceps Stretch:

Shoulder Capsule Stretch:

Up-Dog to Child Pose:

Stiff Bear (Calf Stretch):

Butterfly to Beginner Straddle:

 

Of course, you can modify your warm-up based on the type of training you are doing on a particular day. Have a heavy lower-body day? Then concentrate more on hip and ground mobility. Are you training mostly upper body? Then work on thoracic extension, and dynamic shoulder stretches.

Finally, I may add some sports-specific movements that mimic what I’m training that day. For example, if I’m training a barbell back squat, I may do a series of repetitions of the back squat with an empty bar. If I’m working with kettlebells, I’ll do some light swings and ballistic movements before training with a heavier bell.

Remember than pain should not be a factor. Discomfort may be a sign that you are trying to hard, or have a potential injury. Listen to your body and respect it!

Best in strength,

Greg Carver 

PS: If you are interested in some basic strength training that gets results in minimal time, check out last week’s blog post on Becoming Strong.

Becoming strong changed my life forever.

This year I turned 57.

I don’t know what that’s ‘supposed’ to feel like. Born in 1959, the age I ‘am’ really isn’t how I feel.

People tell me that I look great…and I take those compliments as they come. Friends tell me that they wish they looked half as good as me when they’re my age.

Well here’s the secret:

Get strong.

becoming strong

 

I wasn’t always into strength training, but when I started — becoming strong changed my life.

As you might guess, one of the most important factors in maintaining youthful vigour is getting regular exercise. And while yoga and cardio routines have their benefits — I’d say there’s nothing better than STRENGTH.

Strength training builds strong bones. It has brain-boosting benefits. It prevents muscle-loss (sarcopenia) and lowers myostatin, which generally negatively affects muscle and size.

Being strong also builds confidence. It feels so good to know that you can do stuff! From carrying heavy things to just knowing that you’re physically able

And did I mention that it’ll make you look good? I don’t train for aesthetics (I’m no bodybuilder), but learning how to lift (whether it’s barbells, dumbbells or your own bodyweight) has transformed my body into something I take pride in.

The message here is simple:

Become strong.

Regardless of your gender, it’ll have nothing but positive impacts on your health – now and in the years ahead.

How do you do it?

Make it easy. You don’t necessarily need a gym membership or fancy equipment. You can do a lot with your own bodyweight and a set or two of dumbbells, and/or a barbell.

Form the habit. Start by practicing the major lifts. Learn how to deadlift, squat, and overhead press. Practice some pullups.

But keep it simple at first; don’t overdo it. Don’t worry about reps and sets when beginning, just learn the movements.

Be consistent. Once you’ve nailed down your form, you can establish more of a routine. But your workouts should still be fairly short. With a ‘minimalist’ approach, you’ll actually have a good chance of becoming strong (because you’ll stick with your routine). So you’ll only do a few exercises, and will do a low amout of repetitions.

Note that this doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy. The strength exercises I recommend are all multi-joint compound movements that will give you the most bang for your buck.

Keep it simple. Here’s a plan I recommend:

Basic Barbell Strength Program

There are two different workouts here (A & B), which you’ll alternate, leaving a day of rest in between each. This way, you’ll train approximately three times per week. It doesn’t matter on which days you train, it could be Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or any other variation.

Example:

Week 1: Workout A / Workout B / Workout A

Week 2: Workout B / Workout A / Workout B

etc…

You’ll perform 5 sets of only 5 repetitions of each exercise, with each set slightly heavier than the one that proceeded it. This increases the resistance as you train, but allows you to warm up to the heavier weight in each successive set. For example, you might squat an empty 45lb bar on the first set for five reps, do 95lbs on the second, 115 on the third, 125 on the fourth, and 135 on the fifth.

Always warm up with some joint mobility, dynamic stretches and a little light cardio before training.

Workout A)

Deadlift (5 sets of 5 repetitions, allowing a few minutes rest between sets)

Overhead Press (5 x 5)

Pullups (5 x 5)

Workout B)

Back Squat (5 x 5)

Bench Press (5 x 5)

Bent-Over Row (5 x 5)

 

Three exercises per workout may not seem like much, but if you’re truly putting in effort, this type of training should be tough. Strive to increase the weight on your last set with each successive workout.

Beginners will see rapid strength gains with this type of program. Intermediates will see steady progress. But don’t think you need to switch things up too quickly — develop the consistency first and stay on plan. It’s the way you’ll see the quickest results.

Do make sure you’re cleared by your doctor or health professional for exercise and lifting before beginning any type of exercise program. And make sure you know what you’re doing. I’ve included some demo videos as a reference guide, but they’re not intended to replace actual instruction for a qualified professional.

Best in strength,

Greg Carver 

PS: Are you looking for more instruction and want to hit specific goals? My online coaching program has worked for people who are dedicated and who have access to basic equipment. If you think we might work well together, give me a shout.