At Concentric Fit, we usually call the first set in our training the “Activation” set or the “Preparation” set because that’s exactly what it is designed to do. The first movements we get in to prep the body to do the more intensive, strength, or technical movements later in the workout. Sometimes this is getting the heart rate up and the blood moving. Sometimes its mobility. Oftentimes, it’s activating the muscles needed in our main lift of the day. So if you take nothing else from this post, take this:
A good warm up prepares the body for the workout to come which gives you a better workout.
For example, on days where a squat is the main lift, the activation set usually includes a plank or core stability exercise, a hip movement, and perhaps some tibialis (the muscle next to the front of the shin) work to complement. But why on earth would we do planks on squat day? Because friends, your core (abs, obliques, back, etc.) must be stable and engaged to do a great and safe squat. Activating the core in the activation set, our warm up, helps you to properly engage it so when you get into the squat you can perform better. Without this activation, sometimes it takes until the 2nd or 3rd set to really feel the core assisting in the lift. The better prepared and engaged the body is, the better workout you can get, and the more progress you can see in your lifts, your strength, your health, and your physique.
A good warm up is especially important for people who sit or stay in one position for much of the day and then want to jump into a challenging workout. The body gets stiff and tight being in a single position all day and having a good warm up will make the workout feel better and you will get more out of it. For example, for someone that sits at a desk for the majority of the day, a 5 minute foam roll or mobility of the legs, glutes, hips, and back before even jumping into the activation set can make a huge impact on the effectiveness of your training program.
If you never feel a certain muscle group when doing a certain exercise, for example your glutes in the squat, a proper activation may be the answer. It could also be a form issue or muscular imbalances but let’s assume it’s a lack of proper warm up and activation. For people who sit most of the day, the glutes being smushed under your seat all day can make them under-active. Doing a few rounds of foam rolling and stretching the glutes and hips and some glute focused movements, like glute bridges, in your warm up set can help you to access them during your squat.
When making your warm up, include movements that activate the muscles you need for the focus of your workout. If you don’t have time to become a fitness expert and you want a functional program with proper warm ups already built into a program designed for you to enjoy your life, contact us at Concentric Fit.
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