How much time should you spend prepping for your workout?

“I’ll see ya in a half hour, I have to prep myself for our workout!”

How much time should you spend prepping for your workout?

Once upon a time, like 5 years ago, you couldn’t get ANYONE to do any targeted warm up for their workouts. Outside of a little treadmill walking, folks didn’t want ton”waste time” doing this.

Now, in the age of prehab and mobility, you can’t get people off the stretching table or foam roller to actually work out.

So, in a busy world where workout time is at a premium, how much time should you spend preparing for exercise and what is actually effective at doing this?

Preworkout stretching?

Stretching in general has been a controversial topic in fitness over the years. As far as static pre workout stretching goes, you’re not going to increase the length of a cold muscle effectively, and you may actually be reducing the potential strength of that muscle. Further, any added length is temporary so permanent increased range of motion usually doesn’t happen.

Worth the time? NO

Preworkout foam rolling?

Foam rolling does a terrible job at removing adhesion. It can inhibit a muscle if enough pressure is applied (aka make that tissue feel better temporarily). Ibuprofen does that too. The danger is a damaged tissue that feels better “for now” is not fixed. Loading that tissue with resistance is not a good idea just because you’ve made the pain response go away for a while.

Worth the time? NO

Dynamic stretching?

This is actually movement performed fluidly through a range of motion. Hops, skips, jogs and variations of these dynamic movements are utilized to encourage good range of motion through joints like the hips, knees, shoulders and ankles. These movements increase blood flow to the muscle and encourage a better neural connection to the muscle involved.

Worth the time? YES

“Activation” exercises?

T spine extension with a “T” is a great isometric activation exercise for the upper back.

These are moderately resisted strength exercises designed to increase blood flow and neurally “juice” a specific muscle/joint. These include planking exercises, band exercises, or lightly loaded strength exercises.

Worth the time? YES

With all of this said, over the years I keep coming back to one thought.

If pre workout mobilization is temporary, and foam rolling only temporarily masks uncomfortable spots, then why don’t we just warm up with LIGHTER VARIATIONS of the EXERCISES we plan to do that day???

If you’re planning on squatting, warm up with several sets of light load squats.

If your working on upper body pulling, warm up with low load rows.

And so on…

Just the sum of my experiences and my two cents. Thanks for spending a couple minutes reading!

It’s your turn. Emerge.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS