As fitness enthusiasts, we often overlook the importance of a well-structured warm-up routine, resulting in the common occurrence of preventable injuries. In this week's podcast, we dig into the nuances of crafting the perfect warm-up routine, borrowing wisdom from our experiences at Unity Gym and the UMS App, coupled with insights from seasoned calisthenics practitioners and professional footballers.
In the early days, our UMS warmup was a 20-minute-long drill, which was primarily a stretching and mobility routine. While it served its purpose, our encounters with experts made us realize that we were spending too much time warming up. The truth is, there is a fine line between a warm-up and a workout, which should never be blurred.
Reflecting on football practices, a warm-up routine usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes, and is segmented into three parts: mobility, activation, and function. The emphasis is on ensuring that the player is prepared for the ensuing activity.
At Unity Gym, our understanding of our athletes and their upcoming workouts enables us to design a unified roadmap for warm-ups. This includes one for the upper body and another for the lower body workout days. Every warm-up session starts with 60 seconds to increase blood flow. This helps saturate the joints with synovial fluid, preparing the body for the exertion that lies ahead, while increasing the nervous system's firing rate.
The next stage is dedicated to mobility drills, tailored to suit the workout in the offing. Contrary to popular belief, stretching before a workout may not always be beneficial. For example, before a running or a football session, keeping your legs and shoulders tight is more beneficial than having them loose. Mobility drills focus on taking your joints through a full range of motion under load, ensuring your body controls the weight actively, unlike the passive nature of stretching.
The final component of the warm-up is body positioning drills, aimed at activating the muscles and areas of the body that will be predominantly engaged in the workout. At Unity Gym, we use core body positioning, hollow body positioning, and hanging to stimulate the rotator cuff muscles and other necessary areas.
Remember, the efficacy of your warm-up hinges heavily on its specificity to the impending workout. If you’re gearing up for a squat session, concentrate on warming up the relevant parts of the body. If it's a football match, your warm-up should incorporate skill drills relevant to the sport.
In conclusion, an efficient warm-up routine is one that efficiently increases blood flow, focuses on specific mobility drills, and hones in on precise body positioning. Such a routine prepares your body optimally for any workout or sport, thereby reducing the risk of injury. To learn more about designing effective warm-up routines, tune into our latest podcast episode, "How To Design The Ultimate Warm Up Routine," available here.