I love working out. I love pushing myself to the limit, exceeding my own expectations, and accomplishing things I never thought possible.
But I absolutely HATE warm ups.
I always like to get things done, no matter what. Warm ups seemed like a dreadful delay before the actual work that I wanted to do. Plus, I thought they were boring and miserable. But I quickly changed my mind about them!
What changed my mind about warm ups?
Feeling like crap! During my workouts, I would feel inflexible (which would limit my range of motion to, say, lift heavy or do pull-ups). I knew I was capable of busting out more reps, but my rigidity would take over.
Soooo, I gave in. I started researching more about them — what warm up exercises are the “best”? How can I get the most out of my warm up?
In my quest to find “the perfect” warm up, I stumbled across information that debunked my previous beliefs about what made the “ideal” warm up:
Warm Up Fact #1: Static stretches before a workout aren’t helpful.
I have been taught to stretch before a workout for as long as I can remember — most notably during my elementary school P.E. and my high school P.E. days. It was just a fact of life — you just stretch before a workout! Well, just because you’ve been doing something for a long time doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you to do.
In fact, studies show that there is no clear relationship between stretching and preventing injuries; plus, other studies indicate that static stretching may even impair muscle performance (Haff & Triplett, 2016). So break from the status quo and don’t worry about incorporating static stretches in your warm up!
Warm Up Fact #2: A good warm up has structure & relevance.
Back in my elementary and high school days, I never thought twice about what warm up exercises we did. I just did them just because. In short, they were not relevant to me. But a good warm up must have structure and relevance.
According to Haff and Triplett (2016), an effective warm up structure that many coaches use is the RAMP protocol, which is an acronym for: Raise, Activate, Mobilize, and Potentiate.
Let’s break these down briefly:
- Raise – Raise means to do an activity that raises your heart rate. BUT the activity must be specific to the work/physical activity you are going to do (e.g. going to do some box jumps? Might help to jump rope first)!
- Activate & Mobilize – This is where you work on actively moving through a range of motion with movements that require a degree of motor control, stability, and flexibility. You start to move your body in a way the preps you for your actual workout (e.g. squatting, lunging patterns). This means using dynamic exercises that not only raise your heart rate and body temperature, but also utilize several joints in one movement (saving you a lot of time!).
- Potentiate – This part of the warm up is where you increase the exercise intensity to the point that you are almost at the intensity level required for the actual workout (e.g. agility drills for someone who is about to do sprints).
The main take away is this: Use dynamic exercises that are specific to your workout! Which brings me to another fact…
Warm Up Fact #3: There is no perfect warm up!
Alas — there is no such thing as THE perfect warm up! Warm ups will vary tremendously, depending on the activity you are preparing for. Your warm ups do not have to be the same every time! In fact, you can change it up now and then. What matters most is that you are doing similar exercises to the actual movements you are about to do. Going to do some barbell back squats in the gym? Warm up with some bodyweight squats or sumo squat to stand exercises!
What is an example of a warm up I can do?
Although warm ups should be specific to your workout, I have a 10-minute general warm up routine that I created! This is a great warm up specifically for leg workouts (squatting, lunging, hinging), which is important for our work as nurses! We are constantly on our feet all day — squatting, deadlifting, and lunging (whether you realize it or not!). You can choose to follow my warm up before any of your workouts — or you can choose to do only the movements that you feel are relevant to you! You can research other dynamic exercises that more closely relate to your specific warm up. Warm ups are all about what is best for your specific routine.
Click the video above to see the list of all the exercises I use in this video (or simply scroll ahead to 11:18 in the video to see the list)!
Give this warm up a try and let me know what you think in the Comments section below! Thank you so much for reading, and do not forget to tag #UnbreakableNurse in your social media posts to raise awareness in this movement to fight nurse burnout!
Haff, G. G., & Triplett, N. T. (2016). Essentials of strength training and conditioning (4th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.