Getting (Way) More Out of Your Warmup

Jeremy James: DC, CSCS

Note: Ideas in this blog are borrowed heavily with permission from the concepts laid out by Bill Fabrocini and Chris Crowley in the book “Thinner This Year,” the follow-up to the New York Times bestseller “Younger Next Year.”

A warmup is extremely important before beginning your workout, sport, or even just your day at the office. Most people’s warmup consists of a few minutes on a cardio machine and maybe some static stretching. I want you to change your way of thinking about the warmup. I want you to think of the warmup as one of the most important things you will do in a day for your body.

My good friend and master trainer/therapist Bill Fabrocini likes to call this idea “preparation for movement,” and I think that is a perfect way to think about it. Preparation for movement wakes up all the important muscle groups in your body and enhances and strengthens the connection from your brain to those muscle groups. These are the muscle groups that we deactivate or put to sleep every day via our modern lifestyle of sitting and inactivity. The routine that we use here at the Aspen Club is a very efficient, safe, and effective way to accomplish this goal in about 15 to 20 minutes. I do some variation of this myself every day and incorporate it into my patients’ daily training regimens. I highly recommend you do this before your workout or sport. I also recommend you do this if it is the only form of physical activity you do all day. When done properly, this routine will train your body to use the right muscles, improve mobility in the hips and shoulders, and avoid wear and tear on the joints.

As I have said before, the clear majority of conditions I see in our clinic are the result of thousands of cycles of bad movement, causing degenerative changes. Practicing these movement patterns every morning helps you avoid this process. This routine will also strengthen those important muscles in the glutes and core and make you more in tune with your body, enhancing performance.

The important thing here is to do these exercises and movements correctly. The overriding concept is to keep the back still and move from the hips and shoulders. This routine seeks to promote spinal stability, while achieving maximum mobility in the shoulders and hips. Think about each movement you are doing and try to engage the right muscles. The very first thing you do is engage your core by lightly tensing your abdominal muscles while maintaining normal respiration. Maintain a slightly stiff core throughout these movements, which will keep the spine still. You only need to do 4 to 6 repetitions of each movement. Just make sure they are good ones. I recommend doing this daily if possible.

For a more in-depth discussion, read the books “Younger Next Year” and “Thinner This Year.” They are both filled with life-changing, simple concepts that everyone should put into practice as they age. As always, feel free to write or call with questions. Good luck!