The purpose of an effective warm up is to prime our body, both mentally and physically prior to participation in exercise.
An effective warm up can help to improve performance whilst also reducing the risk of injuries during activity. A warm up serves 4 main purposes;
- Improved mental readiness
- Improved physical readiness
- Reduced risk of injury
- Performance enhancement
Many coaches and trainers nowadays use and adapt a method developed by Ian Jeffreys known as the RAMP method. This method brings you away from the historic method of a simple jog around a field followed by some half hearted static stretches.
RAMP is all about timing and efficiency as many athletes worry that their warm up will eat into their session too much, however an effective routine will take between 10-15minutes if planned correctly.
This is the first phase to an effective warm up and focuses primarily on increasing the heart rate as well as your body temperature, respiratory rate, blood flow and joint viscosity. This has replaced the “few laps around the track” and is a more time efficient way to raise what is needed. This can be through some low intensity strides down the 100m track, a simple bodyweight circuit that will get you moving or simply a little jog on the spot at home before a run/bike ride.
Activate and Mobilise
This phase is a great example of time utilisation and focuses on getting the key joints and muscles required in the following session ready to work. This is where you might see individuals using mini resistance bands doing lateral walks to fire up our hip stabilising muscles, glute bridges to fire up our glue max to aid with hip extension (very important for you runners!) or it may involve using a resistance band and performing some chest openers or rotator cuff exercises before an upper body strength based session.
Within this phase you could also look at using foam rollers to help prepare the joints and muscles as you look to improve the mobility within the body, for example, if you have been sat at a desk for eight hour hunched over your keyboard and are looking to go running it would be great to unlock those hip flexors with some lunges and reaches and loosen that thoracic spine with some cat-cows to help promote a better running position. These exercises would also benefit someone about to perform a leg session in the gym. You would also be wise to include some core stability exercises here to help strengthen through the middle of the body and an effective way is through a superman (birddog) or a dynamic plank involving some reaching and testing the body's balance.
This is the final phase of an effective warm up and the primary aim is to focus on getting the body ready to go with more sport/session specific movements. For example, if you were doing a squat session at the gym you would perform some warm up reps with just the bar or very light weights added to ensure you have correct form before completing your session. Another example would be prior to a sprint session you would look to perform more explosive movements such as plyometric box jumps to stimulate the Central Nervous System ready for your session ahead.
Efficient planning of these warm ups help to make your sessions much more effective and also allows you to save time within the session without having to warm up new areas every time you change exercise/drill. Also by performing these regularly you will develop a better mind-muscle connection. For example if you were training 4 times a week and spent 15 minutes prior to your session performing a RAMP warm up that would add up to 60minutes of your weekly exercise of prepping the body which in turn helps to aid your performance and prevent injury, I don’t think that is a bad sacrifice to make.
We incoperate an effective warm up using these principles into all of our fitness classes and personal training sessions. If you have any questions or are interested in training with us in our exercise studio in Rugby Warwickshire please get in touch