all systems go

All Systems Go!

By RDF Staff


At Red Dot Fitness we see a tremendous cross-section of clients. This diversity constantly keeps us on our toes and makes exercise programming fun and interesting everyday. With different fitness levels, goals, needs, and individual limitations there IS one thing that remains fairly constant….the importance of the first 8-10 minutes of every session.

Arguably, the time and energy you spend preparing yourself or a client for the training session can make or break the overall effectiveness of the session itself.  The purpose of a warm-up is to prepare the body and mind (actually the entire nervous system) for the challenges you intend on presenting yourself or client within the training session. Spending 10 minutes on an elliptical trainer or dreadmill followed by a few static stretches in the corner really doesn’t add up to a proper warm up if you intend on staying injury free and maximizing performance and time spent in your session.  This is especially true for most of the clients we see at RDF who have generally spent the majority of their day strapped to an office chair, slumped over any number of electronic devices, and are often battling other dysfunctions as a result of inactivity or previous injuries.

More specifically the first several minutes of your session should be focused to stimulating all the sensory and motor components of the neuromuscular system through movement patterns that resemble things the body should be able to do in all planes and phases of motion. This includes squatting, lunging bending/hinging, pushing, pulling, rotating, balancing, and other specific movements relative to the intended goals associated with the training plan. To maximize performance, and in turn elicit the most beneficial result possible (whatever that may be), it’s imperative that all systems are “switched-on” and ready for business. Obtaining an ALL SYSTEMS GO status means firing-up the most efficient energy system(s) available, stimulating proprioceptors for maximal kinesthetic awareness, and integrating movements that get your body functioning as a strong and stable synergistic unit that’s ready for action.

Research shows us that the above is especially true prior to strength training sessions given so many of these exercises are aimed at improving performance on the whole. At RDF our clients perform Olympic lifts (cleans, jerks, & snatches) and variations thereof. We also employ a multitude of movements using diverse modalities and dynamic application to create demands that challenge our clients to their appropriate limits. Inherently these movements carry a certain level of risk as it relates to an individual’s ability to actively and dynamically accept, reduce, and produce forces. So, I stand by the above statement regarding how important the first 8-10 minutes of a session are. Being switched-on is imperative.

So what do I do? Here are a few warm-up tips to help properly prepare you for a more effective training session that brings you the results you’re looking for while helping to keep you injury free.

  • Use active-dynamic movements to move your body through a full range of motion (ROM). These are large movements that can be performed just about anywhere you can think of. Be sure to include the shoulder and hip complexes as well as upper and lower extremities.  

  • Get the body moving through space. Begin to integrate and mobilize the entire body through dynamic full ROM movements that CHALLENGE posture and balance while focusing on muscle activation, especially for weak or inhibited areas. Lunges with trunk rotation, hip extension with shoulder flexion, push-ups with trunk rotation, squatting with scapular retraction, single-leg balance & reaching, lateral lunging with lateral spinal flexion/side-bending, etc. are all excellent ways to achieve an ALL SYSTEMS GO status.

  • Get sweaty! Increasing core body temperature and circulation will illicit enhanced tissue pliability. Along with an up-tick in core body temp you’ll begin to see and elevation in respiratory rate and should realize a “positive” change in mental focus. The energy systems associated with strength and power based movements are now be getting tapped into. If you have challenged the body through the entire mobilization process above you should be “sweaty”!

  • That said, you may want to add some additional warm-up activities like jumping rope, SAQ work, or other movements that more closely mimic the movements you’ll perform with greater load or intensity inside your training session. This may be a build-up set of hang-cleans prior to your working sets at the clean & jerk.  OR, you might go with some shadow boxing prior to the met-con massacre you had planned for the day.  My advice, if your serious about your training program and staying injury free, whatever you choose should be purposeful. Don't arbitrarliy perform some generic movement that has zero transference to the remainder of the session and the ultimate goal.

Now you’re SWITCHED-ON! Don’t neglect your warm-up. Use the time wisely so you get the most from your session. Be efficient, effective, and focused. Use the time to mentally wrap your head around the remainder of the training session and the goals to be achieved both short and long term so you go into it with ALL SYSTEMS GO….rather than just going through the motions.