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4 warm up ideas using only one piece of equipment each

November 22, 2014

Here are some of my favourite effective and efficient ways to ready your body for exercise. These all involve short, simple movements. You don’t need to get on a treadmill or bike for 20 minutes to get warmed up. The whole purpose of the warmup process is to elevate your heartrate, increase blood flow to your muscles, get your core temperature high enough and switch on/activate your muscles (especially the ones you are going to be training).

I personally think warm ups are also fantastic for improving body awareness and increasing your mind-muscle connection. I like to do movement-specific warm ups with my clients to help activate whichever muscles we are going to be training. This can help re-teach your body how to perform certain movement patterns using the correct muscle groups. Warms up are as much about the body as they are about the mind--really getting the feel for movements and muscles that should be working. During your warm up you want to feel all the muscles that you are going to be training. By the time you start your actual session the muscles you are going to be working should be warm and activated and you should feel good, awake, warm, energized and ready to train.

Soft Tissue Work Warm up: Now I have never been a fan of spending half your session or more foam rolling and warming up. To me, that is completely unnecessary. I see people do this and I just don't understand it. It's one of my pet peeves. You can use your active recovery and rest days for that, or you can do it while you sit in front of your TV at night! Why would you spend your precious work out time each day to foam roll and stretch for half an hour? But in saying that, I do like it when my clients get in some soft tissue work before our training session starts. As this is not something I am going to use part of the session doing, so I try tell my clients or classes to be responsible to get this done themselves. You can use a foam roller for soft tissue work, but you can use a lacrosse ball, tennis ball, PVC pipe, etc. Spending a few minutes (even 5 minutes) before each training session doing soft tissue work can increase blood flow to the area, send a signal to the brain to relax that muscle a bit, and give you a few minutes to mentally prepare yourself to get into “training mode.

Breathing warm up: I like to incorporate breathing with a hard exhale at the beginning of the workout to help get the “core firing” and teach clients to blow out all of their air and get their ribs down. This is awesome to do before you start your training session. I learned a lot of breathing techniques from doing Bikram yoga (they do exhale breathing at the very start and the end of the class) for the last two years and I think it's an awesome idea!

Heartrate warm up: I like to start with 5 minutes of some form of cardio warm up, whether it’s the on airdyne, rower, or going for a run, etc. I often get my clients (or if it’s a big class I get everyone to alternate between rower and airdyne) intervals, starting at about 50 % exertion and ending at around 80-90 % for the last 20 seconds or so. This will start to get the heartrate up and blood flowing.

Dynamic Warm-Up: This is generally a series of 6-12 exercises designed to prepare you for your workout. For most people, it includes some basic hip and thoracic mobility drills, some glute activation drills, and some core stability exercises. These exercises can go a long way in improving your overall movement quality.

Following are some of my favourite dynamic warm up drills I like to do with my clients and the groups I coach. I've also included videos so that you can see what all the exercises are.

KB Warm up (using a light KB, 8-12 kg will suffice):

KB single leg deadlifts x 3 each side)

KB clean and press into windmills (x 3 each side)

KB bottoms up squats -- pause in the bottom and do a few “greasing the knees” (x 6)

KB halo (x 3 each side)

KB rows (x 3 each side)

KB swings x 6

Repeat this circuit 2-3 times, resting 90 seconds between each round.


Lifting complex with an empty Bar (no need to add weight as bodyweight with a light weight is sufficient for warm up purposes):

Romanian deadlifts (x 5)

Hang pulls (x 5)

Hang power cleans (x 5)

Front squats (x 5)

Push press (x 5)

Thrusters (squat to press) x 5

Repeat this complex 2-3 times, resting 90 seconds between each round.


Bodyweight warm up:

Walking lunges with overhead reach and rotation (x 5 each side)

Push ups into downward dogs x 5

Squat jumps (pause 2 seconds in the bottom of each squat) x 5

Some form of plan or side plank (i.e. plank up and downs or planks with reaches, or side planks with hip lifts) (5 each side)

Burpees x 5

Repeat this circuit 2-3 times, resting 90 seconds between each round.


Band warm up:

x-band walks (x 5 each direction)

Overhead band walking lunges (x 5 each leg)

Overhead squats (x 5)

Behind the head presses in the squat (x 5)

Band pull aparts (x 20)

Repeat this circuit 2-3 times, resting 90 seconds between each round

(You can also add some banded good mornings to this warm up to get the glutes and hammies activated. This is especially good to add in before a deadlift session.)


Now you're ready to train! :)




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