How important is that warm-up anyways? Remember when we used to go to “gym” class as a kid and the PE teacher would go through some boring warm-up exercises. These probably centered around things like arm circles, neck stretches, jumping jacks…the usual stuff. What everyone really wanted to do was jump right into that kill or be killed game of dodge ball, and this warm-up was wasting valuable time. So, just how important was that warm-up anyways? Fast forward several years and maybe you’re a power lifter, a nationally ranked weightlifter, or even just a top of the line weekend warrior. Either way, it is important to remember the days of old, when we moaned and groaned about that stupid warm-up. This crucial part of your training may have been long forgotten, or maybe you’re simply doing it all wrong. This is about keeping yourself functional and healthy so that you can keep building that strength.
Whether you are that “gym rat” friend, or the buddy who is always inadvertently referred to a “Big (insert name here),” you have probably been asked that all-important question of “How much you bench”. The end result is what’s important anyways right? That number we are always chasing, that ever important “total.” One of the most important, and easily overlooked, parts to that question comes in everything you do that is NOT bench pressing. This article is not about programming or building a bigger bench press, I’ll save that for another time. This is about keeping yourself functional and healthy so that you can build that strength.
Keep it Simple Stupid
Okay, lets go back to my initial question…”How important is that warm-up anyways?” One of the most important part of your workout is how you prepare for it that day, and how you prepare for the next one, and the next one. This comes in the form of that “warm-up” and also the post workout accessory work you put in even though it sucks! Some people call this a warm up, some might refer to it as mobility, as well as a number of different approaches to pre and post workout necessities.
For this article, lets focus on a few simple tips for keeping our shoulders healthy! Whether you’re looking to bench press, Clean, jerk, snatch, squat…etc. you have some important work to do in keeping your shoulders ready for battle. We could go through complete mobility programming for shoulders but this is for those who need to keep it simple and to the point. Here are a few steps, and a few necessary tools of the trade to keep you strong and healthy.
Step 1: Remember the “gym” teacher. One of the simplest and easiest ways to prepare our shoulders for battle is putting the joint through various range of motions. Try those arm circles, swing those arms, just get the joint moving. No hard stretching yet, save that for when you retire the barbell for the day.
Step 2. Remember your rubber. Buy some resistance bands. Take the motions a little bit further. Shoulder dislocations are one crucial step to getting your shoulders mobile. If using a barbell is too difficult you can start with a resistance band. This resistance band is one of the tools you need to have in your gym, at home, in your gym, or whatever. This will be an important tool for mobility work and any “rehab” exercises (i.e. resisted internal or external rotations). I do these several times a week to keep those stabilizers strong. Get one, use it, move on.
Step 3. Play Ball. Don’t waste your money on a $20.00 “mobility ball.” Go get yourself a baseball and a softball. You’ll spend a few bucks and these will get the job done and last you a lifetime! This is the perfect tool to mash up those muscles to get them ready to perform or help them recover. These cheap tools will help get those trigger points and keep you on the Gain Train.
Step 4. Finish your workout. We know the feeling after killing a day of training. The final slam of the barbell after the last set and the whispers of a hot shower begin to get to you. Ignore them and finish what you started. How you end your day helps you prepare for the next day. So, again, keep it simple stupid. Stretch.
Step 5. Know you roll. Buy a foam roller. Some people use PVC, some people have their swimming noodle. Spend some money on a good roller and USE IT! I foam roll every day! (I use a rigid rumble roller…the black one…the one that makes grown men cry!)
So remember, keep it stupid simple. We can get involved with reading different blogs, studying programming, and looking to the professional gods of mobility, but who has time for all that on top of all your other tasks that happen outside of training? Sometimes we just need to keep it simple and fit in the pre/post work that is necessary for success in a limited time crunch. It wasn’t that long ago where I thought the only thing necessary to get you ready for a workout was some lighter reps of the exercises you were going to perform. And please, don’t get me wrong, there are times where I dedicate most of my workout to mobility, and even many elite athletes will tell you the same thing. However, if you have 60 minutes or maybe 90 minutes, we don’t want to skip this crucial part of our training! You can fit it in. That “warm-up” IS important! How do we fit this in all the time? Keep it stupid simple!