Anatomy Of A Workout, An Hour Of Training From A-Z Part 1: The Warm-Up

Every workout contains essentially the same components. You warm up, you workout, you cool down, you head off to start/finish your day. But what are you doing in this time? Are you making the most efficient use of the hour or so you have to train? If you aren’t, here’s a plan to help make that easier! Before we get too far along, we need to know what workout phase you’re in. Mobility? Stability? Strength? Power? Power endurance? Corrective? Recovery? Depending on where you’re at, the anatomy of your workout could vary quite a bit.
Here’s how I program for each phase. There are as many ways to do it as there are exercises to do. This is the way I’ve found to work really well.
  • Mobility: longer warm-up with full range of motion work using total body exercises.
  • Stability: moderate with multiple single limb moves.
  • Strength: moderate to long because the loads are heavier
  • Power: relatively lengthy, mirrors the moves you will do in your workout
  • Power Endurance: moderate so you’ve got enough juice in the tank for the longer bouts of work
  • Corrective: your workout may be your warm-up, meaning you will be using stability/mobility work to try and take out whatever imbalances you are trying to fix.
Where to start?
I like 5 minutes of rolling out your hot spots to get going with the foam roller, stick, tennis or lacrosse ball, golf ball, Theracane, etc. Whatever allows you to get into the muscles and prepare them for work. From here, we get into the warm up. If you’re pressed for time, 5-7 minutes of the Turkish Get Up using only body weight (or better yet a shoe – give it shot, it ain’t easy!). This exercise takes you through a ton of ranges of motion, and should do the trick to get you loose. I’m not a fan of stretching prior to training for a couple of reasons. One, by time you stretch the body out feet to fingers, your muscles have cooled down and you need to stretch again. Plus, I like to get people moving to get loose because I’ve found that it prepares them better to train. As far as treadmills go, you can. Just know there may be more efficient ways to get warm.
I like to start off with rolling patterns on the floor. These do quite a few things to get you loose. They are meant to create “segmental separation of the upper and lower body (Charlie Weingroff, “Rehab=Training, Training=Rehab”). This works really well to help with thoracic spine mobility where a lot of people are locked up.
Next, I like to go to a combination of Planks + Cobras and Lunges stepping backwards + Lateral Lunges side to side. The planks will hit the hip extensors (glutes and hammies) in addition to the core and low back muscles. The cobras will open up the shoulders while hitting the low back erectors. Good combo of a “push/pull” movement.
I like lunges after planks because the glutes have gotten a little work, hopefully loosening the hip flexors and quads, making the movement more effective. The lateral lunges are just a nice way to open up the hips in two more directions. I like 2-3 rounds of :40/exercise.
From here, we’re heading to either band resisted glute bridges, lateral walks, split stance band presses and any corrective work you need to do. Then its on to light to moderate Turkish Get Ups for 7-10 minutes (depending on what the day’s programming has) to finish off the warm up.
You can also use your first couple of laps of the day’s main lifts with light weight to get loose as well. This has been very successful in the body building world, and it works well for us mere mortals as well. I haven’t done this in a pretty long time because of my incessant need to have as much variety as possible in my training. Probably not the best strategy, but half the battle of progressing is knowing what doesn’t work for you!
Here are some other things you can do:
  • Stability ball bridges
  • Single leg squats
  • LIGHT overhead pressing
  • Rotation work with tubing/cable pulleys
  • TRX work
  • Diagonal chops/lifts with a medicine ball, dumbbell, rubber tubing and cable pulleys. This is another big bang for your buck move in terms of being time crunched.
  • Band resisted hip hinges
  • Light step ups
At this point the nervous system has been primed several different ways and should be ready to train. You should be about 20 minutes (5:00 rolling out + 15:00 of moving) in with a decent glisten going.
Next up is whatever your program holds for the day. My preference is total body work hitting all of your push/pull, level change (squat/hip hinges/lunges/etc) muscles to make things as efficient as possible. I like a M/W/F schedule, but you can also do two days a week or a four day split routine. It all depends on what your focus is.
In part two, I’ll give you a functional training routine you can do to fill in the time between your warm up and cool down.
Al Painter, BA, NASM-PES, CES
President & Founder
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Robb Wilcox

Good stuff Al. I never thought to do lunges after planks.

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