Categories
Exercises

The Power of a Good Warm Up

The proper warm up should increase your core body temperature and help increase blood flow to your muscles. This will help prepare your body for strenuous exercise by stimulating the nervous system. It will also activate muscle groups and improve joint mobility and flexibility. Using the correct warm up sequence for your workout can even increase your muscle’s ability to produce force and power.

The Best Warm-Up Exercises

There is actually no set warmup routine that can be considered “the best.” Your plan should be to warm up specifically for whatever activity you are working on that day. This means your warm ups should change with every workout. 

As a rule of thumb:

  • use the correct stretches to go through the range of motion that you’re going to be working through in your workout that day
  • reinforce proper movement patterns
  • it should last anywhere between five to fifteen minutes

Not warming up can pose a risk for injury, so take the time to research the dynamic moves and stretches that are specific to your workout before you head out to the gym.

5 Key Components of a Strong Pre-Workout Routine

The video I’ve included in this article is my latest Youtube video created to help you increase your mobility and range of motion in order to execute a precise and powerful roundhouse kick. You can use this video as both a dynamic warm up and as a progression workout to increase coordination and balance, to practice precise placement of your feet and to maximize the height of your kick.

For all other workouts, you can create your own warm-up routines by following these guidelines:

  1. Raise your pulse —think three to five minutes of aerobic exercise (walk, bike, jog, skip rope) to get your blood pumping.
  2. Use controlled dynamic sequences—for leg days think leg swings, hip rotations, inchworms and other lower body movements. For upper body days, go for torso rotations, dive-bomber push-ups and arm and shoulder rotations. 
  3. Incorporate minimal static stretching—static stretches are best for after your workout, since static stretching before your workout can lead to poor workout performance according to research. However, there are one or two sport specific static stretches that can help increase your range of motion for a particular workout. i.e. 20 second quad or calf stretches for runners.
  4. Run through sport specific skill drills—i.e. Shooting, dribbling and passing drills for ball sports. For weightlifting, do warm-up sets of no weight or lower weight and resistance before you increase load and volume.

Static or Dynamic: What’s the Difference?

Keep in mind that dynamic stretching is used to improve mobility (often done in the manner of the activity or sport that is going to be performed) while static stretching requires that you hold the stretch without moving (usually the muscle is at the end of its range). 

Although there is no long-term evidence of direct harm from static stretching prior to a workout, you will temporarily decrease your ability to produce force. Whereas dynamic stretching has been shown to significantly increase the ability of your muscles to produce force, according to a 2005 study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Times have changed, you no longer hold 15 stretches for 20-60 seconds each before jumping into a rigorous workout. The proper warm up can have huge implications for improved muscular performance throughout a muscle’s entire range-of-motion—all the while protecting the body’s joints during activity. 

To staying positively strong, powerful, and flexible,

Sunny

Categories
Exercises

Punch Strong: The Benefits of Correct Martial Arts Technique

Why Learn Properly?

My guess is that most of the members are cardio bunnies interested in a quick cardio workout. They do not imagine themselves ever using the punching and kicking movements in a real self-defense situation. If they only knew of the real psychological and physical benefits to taking the time to learn proper, basic martial arts technique before jumping in. They’d be hooked! Correct technique for self-defence is just the tip of the ice berg, the other benefits include:

  1. Reducing Injury. Knowing how to execute a technique correctly will prevent you from throwing haphazard strikes that could lead to injury.
  2. Getting Faster. Over time, executing good technique will raise your comfort level in the movement and allow you to increase your speed.
  3. Combating Sarcopenia. Once you have a hang of proper movement and begin to build speed, you can then focus on building explosive power. Explosive training activates type II muscle fibers and is very beneficial against muscle loss (Sarcopenia).
  4. Building Confidence. As you start to polish your technique and build good habits, you will start to gain confidence in your abilities.  The more you repeat good habits, the more confident you will be the next time you enter a class.
  5. Improving Reaction Time. You will have better ability to react and improvise when needed, based on the fundamentals you have learned. Whether it be to learn new fitbox class drills, or to anticipate an opponent’s next move and react accordingly.
  6. Strengthening the Body and Mind. There is something to be said for the mind-body connection that comes from being immersed in learning challenging martial arts technique. The very process of learning martial arts can put you into a meditative or Flow State (Flow State refers to when a person performing a challenging activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus and enjoyment, according to positive psychology and research by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). Modern neuroscience has associated a meditative or Flow State with changes in the electrical function of the brain that can relieve stress and positively affect your sleep, feelings of depression and anxiety, pain, breathing pattern, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Get to Work

So don’t jump into a cardio kickbox class and just follow the movements blindly. Instead begin by attending a martial arts class or watch videos that break down the movements for you. It may not be a quick solution, but there is such beauty and power in having the discipline to try and practice something correctly, over and over again.

I find this next quote by Bruce Lee to be very inspiring—no matter your starting level or interest in martial arts—as it can pertain to many different interests, fields and disciplines.

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

-Bruce Lee

I don’t like hitting the gym just to cross daily cardio off of my list. I’d rather work towards something bigger. My PositivelySTRONG Hit All Body Interval Training (HABIT) videos start by introducing basic fundamental movements and building on them. With repetition, you should aim to get better and better.

This week’s video places the focus is on the humble punch as performed in two basic stances. I’ll break down some of the basics for you until you can get to an actual class, then end with a 7-minute interval training session that you can repeat as many times as possible.

As always with my videos, be sure to warm up, rest in between sets, set out to execute techniques properly, and make the workout as difficult as you need by adjusting intensity.

To starting with positively strong basics,

Sunny