Warm ups are something that many people would like to do but do not seem to have the time to complete never mind stretching after a workout. To quote some of my clients, ‘who has time to stretch?’ Warm ups and stretching are essential components of any workout routine and help to prevent injuries as well as increase performance but, they do take up time in an already tight schedule. To solve this puzzle of performing a complete and effective workout all within the time frame allotted in the modern weekend warrior schedule, we must know what an effective and purposeful warm up consists of and how stretching actually works.
Warm ups are more than just jumping on the bike or hitting the treadmill for ten or twelve minutes. Warm ups are progressively challenging activities that reinforce the activities that will be focused on in the work out or in the competition as well acting to increase the bodies metabolic readiness to deliver energy efficiently to the working muscles and organs. I other words the warm up should last about twelve to fifteen minutes or more and progressively become harder and is nearing the intensity of the actual workout or competition. At the end of the warm up you should be breathing heavy and breaking a sweat.
As for stretching this is easily incorporated into any workout toward the end and should look as if you are still engaged in the building phase of your workout. The purpose of stretching is to teach and reteach the body how to go through full ranges of motion at the joints and maintain functional control while in those positions. In a recent study researchers took subjects through an eight week resistance training program of squats, pull ups, bench presses and many more traditional full body resistance exercises. The subjects were not allowed to perform any static stretching during the study and their range of motion was measured both at the beginning and end of the eight week study. The researchers found that the subjects increased their range of motion in the hips, knees, and in the hamstrings. It is important to note that the exercises were performed through full ranges of motion. So deep squats, full extension in the arms and shoulders with the pull ups, and so on.
A workout routine should be designed to incorporate a sandwich model of planning. With a dynamic warm up for twelve to fifteen minutes, actual training for twenty five to thirty minutes followed by range of motion training at the end for fifteen minutes and finished off at the end of the day with crocodile breathing. With this model of training you can get all the benefits of the warm ups, workout, and stretching in one session. Try it out and let me know your thoughts.
A few references:
- Aguilar, A., DiStefano, L., Brown, C., Herman, D., Guskiewicz, K., & Padua, D. (2012). A dynamic warm-up model increases quadriceps strength and hamstring flexibility. Journal on Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(4), 1130-1140.
- Mortan, S., Whitehead, J., Brinkert, R., & Cane, D. (2011). Resistance training vs. static stretching: Effects on flexibility and strength. Journal on Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(12), 3391-3398.