THE WARM UP
Warm ups are crucial for preventing chronic injuries. They reset length-tension relationships between muscles and mobilize hormones and energy supplies like adrenaline, carbohydrates and fats so that you’re not running on fumes during your workout. Warm ups can even act as general strength and mobility training if done often enough.
Coach Mike recommends consistent, bite-size practices — exercise snacks. If you practice mobility and flexibility for 5 minutes a day, 4 times a week for 3 weeks, that’s 1 full hour of improving your movement capabilities. Add 5 minutes of general strength and cardiovascular exercises like lunges, planks, and shuffling, that’s another hour of fitness!
A quality warm up should accomplish at least three tasks:
- Raise your heart rate above resting level
- Mobilize muscles and joints that need slack and/or are going to be primary movers in the following workout
- Activate muscles or movement patterns (squat/lunge, crawl, push/pull, carry, hip hinge, run/jump, rotate, etc.) that need practice and will aid in the quality of the session. Everyone above the age of 25 knows the painful repercussions of going from sedentary to sprinting without a few minutes to fire up the ol’ engine.
The cool-down is equally important for longevity. Keep it simple. But more importantly, do it consistently. In this way, actively train your body to recover faster using breath work and light movement through full ranges of motion, such as yoga, barefoot walking, or mobility drills.
*with all stretches/mobility drills, find a point of discomfort, NOT pain. You should be able to maintain semi-normal breathing during these. If you can’t, ease up and work into it over time. Consistency > Intensity.
Ball Roll Feet: Sometimes be aggressive, sometimes simply massage and relax. As always, avoid too much of one thing.
Psoas Stretch: Put your foot on a couch, bench, or the wall and drop to a knee. Now contract your back glute, keep posture neutral, and push hips forward. Then rock forward and back to find areas that need some attention.
90-90 Hip Stretches: Sit on the ground with the front knee at 90 degree (external rotation) and the back knee at 90 degree going the other way (internal rotation). Now twist torso so the belly faces the front knee, lean forward and back.
Upward Facing Dog to Downward Facing Dog: Contract glutes and drop hips down with head up. Press hips high up and back while pushing heels to the floor and head between straight arms.
Groiner & Twist: Step left leg up and place it just outside your left hand. Push hips to the floor. Rotate your trunk to reach your left arm high, following it with your eyes. Repeat on the other side.
Four-way Lunge: 1. Forward step with tall posture; 2. Then a lateral step with hips hinged back and torso leaning forward with good posture; 3. Followed by a reverse step with slight forward lean with good posture; 4. Lastly, a cross-behind step with foot, knee, hips, and shoulders facing forward, step behind and across, drop knee down
High knees: Run forward with exaggerated knee drives — as if the ground is hot metal. Here, with tall posture, practice relaxing shoulders and swinging your arms. Then pull your foot up and strike the ground with the ball of the foot.
Butt Kicks: Run forward and use your heels to kick your butt, keeping your knees down and posture tall. Get a lot of repetitions in your allotted space.
Carioca: Running laterally (sideways), cross your back leg up and over in front of the other, and then behind on the next step. The goal here is to separate the shoulders and hips and loosen up the midsection and hips.
Backward run: Lean forward slightly and reach your heel to your butt and then back to reverse the action of a regular leg swing in forward running. However, if this bothers your quads/patellar tendons, start with a smaller step backpedal.
Coach Mike Brasch is currently a Strength & Performance Coach and the Director of Nutrition & Team Training at MASH Performance in Eagan, Minnesota.You can follow Coach Mike on his Instagram @Coach_Mike_Brasch for more workouts.