A dynamic approach towards pre-exercise warm-up

By: K Kane BS MS CSCS

As more and more science has been applied to sport, the age old notion of run a few laps and perform static stretches (reach and hold ideology) as part of a warm-up, to any sport, has become obsolete. That’s not to say that running and static stretching do not have their place. They do. Just not in the warm-up prior to performance. In fact, a great way to cool the body down, reduce muscle soreness and slow the nervous system activity back to normal levels following an intense performance is through static stretching. Furthermore, scientific research in the field of exercise science has repeatedly demonstrated that static stretching decreases the force production capabilities of a muscle.

Translation: the muscles will be incapable of generating the contraction required to command your body during heart pumping fit camp workouts!

A great recipe for injury! Go to any sporting event and you will see teams and athletes alike, lined up in neat rows performing exercises on the move during their warm-up. This moving warm-up has become known as a dynamic warm-up. So, get ready to run, jump-squat, and burpee by preparing your body for optimal performance!

So, what exactly is a dynamic warm-up and why should you do it?

First, allow me to say, get over your fear of looking foolish! As the science of sport systematically penetrates diverse exercise modalities, it will become common to people preparing to run, swim or train, dynamically warming up 15-20 minutes prior to kicking it into gear. But why wait until it catches on? Why not step out of the box and purposefully prepare your body for the workout ahead? If you could reduce overuse, muscular and joint injuries from being ill prepared, if you could reduce muscle soreness and prolong your ability to exercise to your maximum capacity (barring no performance ending injuries) using 15-20 minutes of your pre-exercise time, why wouldn’t you?

Red Shift BootCamp is an intense, heart pounding, adrenaline churning, DYNAMIC (ever changing and moving) exercise program that requires the individual to be ready to exercise and immediately meet the mental, physical and physiological demands at maximum intensity right out of the gate. So bring on the dynamic warm-up and properly prepare your body to meet those demands head on!

A dynamic warm-up is a structural warm-up that will heat up and stretch the muscles utilizing a movement pattern. While it uses movement to create greater blood flow and hence oxygen delivery to the muscles as well as increase the range of motion about the joint structure, it should not be confused with ballistic or “bouncing” type stretching. Bouncing is bad! Think of your muscles as taffy. Cool taffy snaps. Warm taffy stretches. So through the dynamic warm-up the individual is taken through a controlled warm-up that progresses in a step-wise fashion in which the tempo, intensity and speed of the movement drills are gradually increased.

The benefits of this stepwise pattern go beyond just warming up the body. Think of your body position during various exercise patterns. Up, down, squat, stand, forward, back. This is your body’s movement in space. The more you exercise the less aware of the pattern you are cognitively and the more second nature it becomes. You no longer have to think about it, you just do it! The dynamic warm-up aids in this process by allowing you to develop the appropriate sport-specific neuromuscular patterns as well as to fine tune your awareness of your body position in space (known as proprioceptive awareness) and the forces being applied to it. And boy is there force being applied to these structures when you run, jump, and burpee!  The dynamic warm-up also stretches and warms-up the body’s components in all three planes of motion better preparing it for the runs, jumps and landings that lie ahead.  It strengthens stabilizing muscles, synergistic muscles and the joints both concentrically (shortening) and eccentrically (lengthening). It is this eccentric phase where most injuries occur or better explained: when you land from a jump squat you are eccentrically loading your body’s structures, SO PREPARE IT and reduce the likelihood of injury.
In order for individual performance to be successful the body must go through various ranges of motion in all three planes all while reacting and responding to the exercise prescription. Through the dynamic warm up and further training, we can prepare the body for its optimal response to these various aspects just by using 10-20 minutes of the individuals wait time before each Fit Camp.

The dynamic warm up should be between 10-20 minutes in length: 10 minutes for a beginner, 20 minutes for a more advanced athlete; it should include 10-20 exercises performing one set of 10-12 repetitions for each exercise or 20-25yds using each side of the movement pattern. The exercise selection should be based on the demands of the exercise selection. Fundamental, linear, multi-directional movement and deceleration (eccentric loads) should all be a part of the dynamic warm up.

An example of a beginning dynamic warm up would be as follows:

•    25yd easy jog up and back
•    Jumping jacks (to begin heating up the core temperature)
•    Trunk rotation
•    Trunk circles
•    Arm hugs
•    Walking straight leg march
•    Walking quad stretch
•    Walking piriformis
•    Walking knee hug
•    Lying leg kick
•    Lying scorpion
•    Lateral shuffle
•    Lung with rotation
•    Squat hops
•    Lunge drops

The dynamic warm up is the perfect time to prepare the body for the exercise ahead, to refine movement skills and patterns and to fine tune the mechanics needed for success. However, appropriate exercise execution is imperative for success. Do not mimic something you see on YouTube. Get appropriate instruction on each exercise and fine tune your skills accordingly.

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