By Evan Midford, Website & Social Media Coordinator
A proper warm-up is crucial to getting the most out of your time in the gym. It has been shown that proper warm-ups help to prevent injury, as well as improve performance in various categories of exercise. But the question remains, what method of warm-up is best?
An easy way to remember how to best warm-up is to use the acronym RAMP.
R – Raise
The goal of this aspect of the warm-up is to increase the body’s temperature and heart rate, as well as activate the nervous system and increase muscle elasticity.
Some examples include cycling, using a skipping rope, jogging, or a combination of general movements, such as butt kicks, high knees, carioca, shuffling, or ladder drills.
If you are exercising in a group or team setting, you could even play some sort of game to get yourselves moving. You should aim to spend around five to 10 minutes of your warm-up in this stage – just enough to get your heart beating a little faster and a little bit of a sweat on.
A – Activate
The next part of our warm-up is called the activation stage. In this stage, our goal is to create a connection between the nervous system and our muscles to prepare our body for the movements and exercises that will come later on during our workout.
For example, if you will be performing squats later on during your workout, you could activate your glutes by performing single or double-leg glute bridges followed by a banded lateral shuffle, or, if your workout is going to target your entire body, you could skip in both the forward and backward directions while swinging or circling your arms.
The key to this section of our warm-up is to look ahead to what sort of exercises we will be doing later on during our workout, and select movements that will activate the muscles required for those exercises.
M – Mobilize
After we have completed some activation movements, we will move on to the mobilization phase. This phase of the warm-up is intertwined with the activation stage. While the focus of the activation phase is on the muscles we will use during our workout, the mobilization phase prepares our body for our workout routine by moving the joints we will be using through a wide range of motions.
A simple way of doing this is to perform dynamic stretches targeting different joints and muscles. Some examples of mobilization exercises to do on a lower body day include a quad stretch with a reach, hamstring sweep, lateral lunges, and a quarter squat with a hip cradle.
Similar to the activation stage of our warm-up, it is key that you select stretches that will target the joints and muscles you will be using later on during your workout.
P – Potentiate
The final stage of our warm-up is the potentiation stage. The goal of the potentiation stage is to gradually increase the demands we place on our body in preparation for what’s to come later in the workout. In short, we want our body to feel as though it is stepping off of a curb, not a cliff, once we enter into our workout. A simple way to do this is to perform warm-up sets, where you take exercises that are part of your workout routine and perform them with less weight or at a lesser intensity than you will later on.
Performing a proper warm-up is often an overlooked and ignored aspect of a successful workout. However, if you follow the above guidelines, you will be well on your way to maximizing the results of your workout, as well as reducing the risk of experiencing an injury.
Fradkin, A.J., Zazryn, T. R., & Smoliga, J. M. (2010). Effects of warming-up on physical performance: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(1), 140–148. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c643a0
Woods, K., Bishop, P., & Jones, E. (2007). Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Sports Medicine, 37(12), 1089–1099. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200737120-00006