A better way to warm up before exercise

High school gym class taught you that warming up meant a few static stretches before a rousing game of dodgeball or a rope climbing session. If you’re still using that warm up before your workout, or like most people you have no warm up, today’s column will give you a few ideas to make you think twice about skipping the warm up.

A proper warm up prepares the body for exercise and helps prevent injury, while making your workout more effective. The most beneficial warm ups activate the muscles you’ll be using during your program through their full range of motion by simulating the exercises that you’ll be performing during the workout. For example, if you’ll be doing loaded squats, warm up by performing body weight squats. If you’ll be bench pressing, start with some push ups. I’ve included a video showing examples of a few dynamic warm up exercises to get you thinking.

All this doesn’t mean you should throw out all of your static stretches though. Instead, perform the static stretches at the end of your workout to lessen tightness after your session. However, this is a recommendation and not a rule as static stretching before exercise has great value if you’ve got some specific areas of tightness that prevent you from moving through a full range of motion. In this case, stretch out or foam roll those muscles to loosen them up and then perform a dynamic warm up.

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How strong is your spring?

Developing a strong core is very important to being a good paddler. 

I am a big proponent of core training. Many people narrowly define the core to mean the abs, but your core if basically your entire midsection with exception of your extremities. Developing a strong and solid core makes a huge difference with your functional ability. Every movement that you make, every step, every turn, lift, bend, and reach engages your core muscles.

How strong is your spring?
How strong is your spring?

The responsibility of your abs is not to bring your ribcage and hips together, as in a crunching movement. Instead, their responsibility is to resist that motion along with forward to back flexion and extension and twisting, or rotation. Imagine your core as a spring. That spring always wants to remain in one position. Bend it to the side and it snaps back in place. That’s the job of your core muscles too. They’re trying to keeping the body in place. A strong spring will do a better job than a weak spring.

Today’s exercise is a core rotation. This exercise can be performed using a cable machine or using a resistance band looped around a stationary object. Watch the video below to learn the proper way to perform this exercise. Remember to keep the arms away from the body to get the maximum effect of the weight. Draw the hands too close and you lose the benefit to your core.

Add this exercise to your program and watch for more core training ideas to build a strong foundation.

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