With snowfall upon us, it’s time to revisit a concept that tends to get neglected during the warmer months – a proper warm-up. Sure, when it’s 90 degrees outside, you can get away with walking in the gym door, jumping rope for 30 seconds, and doing a light set of your first exercise to get warmed up. Try that when it’s 20 below with a foot of snow on the ground, and a few things might happen. At best, you’re likely in for a shitty workout – poor blood flow to stiff muscles means range of motion will be limited and you’ll struggle to get in proper position. Worst case scenario, you end up with a muscle strain or tear. Stiff muscles aren’t very pliable – think of what happens if you pull on a stick of Laffy Taffy if it’s been in the freezer for an hour. It won’t stretch much; it’ll break in half. However, leave that same stick of Laffy Taffy in your pocket for an hour and it’ll stretch across the room. Your muscles work the same way.
How To Warm Up (And In What Order)
There is a logical order to warming up that makes everything as efficient as possible. It should take 10 minutes to get ready for a workout if you follow these steps.
1. Cardiovascular Warmup (3 minutes). Grab a jump rope and get hopping, jump on a treadmill and try to get your heart rate in the low 120’s, slam a medicine ball, do some jumping jacks, just get your heart beating and a light sweat flowing.
2. Foam rolling (5 minutes). If nothing else, make sure to spend 30-60 seconds on each of the more critical areas – feet, glutes, low back, quads, IT band, pecs, lats, etc. Try to hit the areas that are most problematic in general, then go after the spots that are specific to your workout if time permits. If you’re not sure what you should roll, check the video below.
3. Dynamic stretching (2 minutes). Arm circles, leg swings, hip circles, mountain climber stretches and other shoulder- and hip-intensive stretches are ideal for pre-workout stretching.
Sample Warm-Up Routine
Jump rope – 100 reps double leg, 50 reps left leg, 50 reps right leg, 100 reps alternating
Foam rolling – feet, glutes, low back, lats, 30 seconds on each area
Dynamic stretch circuit – leg swings, arm circles, fire hydrants, 20 reps each
Viola, 10 minutes and you’re ready to go.