Friday Five: Stretching And Warming Up
Dynamic warm-up: it's the foundation for your work out
By Monika Marx - Marx Conditioning
A good dynamic warm-up is an important piece of your strength and conditioning session. It reduces the risk of injury, gives us movement practice, and is a great place to incorporate some corrective drills into our program. Some quick guidelines to follow:
- Precede your warm up with some soft tissue work, i.e. spend some time with your foam roller. You should be able to get your whole body sorted in five to seven minutes.
- Move from ground-based movements to standing.
- Move from single-joint to multi-joint movements.
- Address mobility restrictions (for cyclists pay attention to hip flexors, and thoracic spine).
- Make sure your warm up is actually increasing your body temperature.
Dynamic warm-ups are like wheel sizes – everyone has an opinion – and there is no absolutes. Keeping that fact in mind, here’s an example of what a dynamic warm-up might look like. Run through one set of the following, five to eight repetitions of each, holding each movement for three to five seconds. There are many ways to skin a cat, and you should be changing up your dynamic warm-up with each four-week strength program.
Hip Flexor Release: Set up in a half kneeling position. Lock in the abdominals, pinch your backside glute, and think of pressing your backside hip forward. Watch that this movement doesn’t happen by increasing the arch at your low back – this angle shouldn’t change. If necessary, place the palm of your opposite hand at your low back for feedback. To intensify the stretch, you can gently push the knee away with your opposite hand as you hinge forward.
Half Kneeling Halo Drill: This is a nice way to warm up the shoulder girdle, and get your core/glute connection happening! Set up in half kneeling position, with your weight over your backside glute – think of being light on the front foot. Grab a kettlebell and flip it upside down. Slowly move the kettlebell in an arc away from the front leg, keeping it close the body. Perform all reps in one direction, then switch legs and repeat in the opposite direction. You can also perform this using a free weight.
TRX Cossack Squat: This lateral squat movement is excellent when it comes to developing dynamic flexibility in the hips, groin and hamstrings, as well as ankle mobility. Take a wide stance with your toes pointing out slightly. Initiate a squat, then shift your weight to one side, keeping the foot flat on the ground of your working side. Your opposite leg should be straight, with toes pointing up to the ceiling (you’ll feel it more!). Then slide your way over to the other side by staying down and level, instead of coming up and down. Sliding keeps constant tension on your legs, and gives a great stretch to your adductors.
TRX Lat Stretch: Hold onto the straps with palms facing down. Sit back in your hips as if you were initiating a deadlift. Arms should be fully extended. Slowly shift your weight to one side (think of driving that hip away from you) until you feel a gentle stretch in your lat. Repeat on other side.
TRX Single Leg Deadlift: Set straps to hip height, and place hands into straps, maintaining constant light downward pressure. Find a single leg stance, with a 15-20 degree knee bend at your support leg, and a locked out knee at the back leg. Hinge at your hip (think of pushing your butt behind your heel, but keeping your knee stacked above your ankle), push your back heel away from you and extend your arms forward. Weight should be in the heel of your support leg. The movement should only happen at the hip, without any weight shift forward, and a neutral spine throughout. A great warm to warm up the glutes and hamstrings, and practice movement quality for loading this exercise.
After you’ve performed your foam rolling, and a dynamic warm up, progress to adding in a couple of simple bodyweight exercises to really get activation happening. Single leg glute bridges and plank holds would get the job done, two sets of each.
Now your body is truly ready for some heavy lifting. Deadlifts, front squats, pull-ups, Turkish get-ups, single leg work to even out your imbalances. Remember, the gym is for developing power and strength, and your bike is for endurance. Lift heavy, keep the reps low, get crazy strong, and crush the competition! Or your local group ride. Up to you.