Greg Perlaki, DVRT Master (DVRT Fitness UK)
When starting out as a fitness coach I was shocked how many people (including professionals) don’t really bother warming up. The common trend in commercial gyms that trainers put their clients on the treadmill or cross-trainer for 5 minutes and that’s the warm-up covered (let’s be honest, that called a “lunch break” among fitness professionals). Yes bringing the heart rate up is a good element of a good warm-up, but if that is all we are doing we are missing out on much bigger opportunities.
Many are overwhelmed what makes for a good warm-up and how to fit everything they think should be doing in a reasonable time frame for their workout. After all, you probably don’t want to turn the warm-up into a 30 minutes mobility session either and struggling to get your workout starting. So finding a balance here is key for better results.
Use regression/progressions to create more effective warm ups is really key in getting more out of your workouts and finding that your war-up actually serves an important purpose. The beauty of DVRT is the focus on quality movement patterns, core stability and strength training in a way that is rather simple and most importantly accessible for everyone. Having a system makes it even easier to perform the right exercises at the right time and it can be done in minutes. While many see DVRT sometimes as overwhelming you can really find it such an amazing solution in finding the best exercise for yourself.
What are those areas that need to be covered?
Warm-ups should get the body prepared for intense training. It doesn’t need to be too long, 3-4 different drills could go a long way. I like to plan ahead and create the warm up according to what I’d like to achieve in the main session.
Build connections in the body (targeted kinetic chains)
Most people need more activation work than anything else, turning on those small stabilizer muscles that are often neglected is priority and helps to get ready much quicker and in a more effective manner. The DVRT system has been built on targeting the myofascial lines and creating better connections through these lines in the body to produce more efficient movement. Basically, if your body feels more stable (predominately your spine, but other places as well, your body gives itself to permission to move in ways that stretching just wouldn’t allow!)
One of my favorite go-to exercises for a great warm-up is the Shinbox or 90-90 hip mobility drills. These work on internal/external hip rotation and those deep core muscles that we don’t even know existed before. Most people with lower back problems lack of these two things, so it not only makes sense to add this to our warm up routine but we can do it progressively adding layers onto the movement.
Breaking this exercise down into pieces allow us to work on individual parts of the movement. This is great for our warm-up for two reasons: it doesn’t require good hip mobility to get started and make progress. Starting from the top position of the Shinbox can allocate people with very little range of motion in the hips too. An Arc Press in this case go a long way of turning on these muscles and leave the client feel even taller and relaxed. Slowing the movement down and `finding` the end ranges of the Arc Press is where the magic happens. So 6-8 slow repetition is perfectly enough of this.
It’s no surprise then a series of this dynamic mobility they’re ready to start their workout and can lunge, hip hinge, press or row better as the most important part of their body is turned on. At the end of the day the core is the connection between upper body and lower body and the better we make that connection the better we move.
Use the ground for creating tension both in hands and feet
In the DVRT system we like to start from the ground up and build progressions from there, so emphasizing to squeeze the toes or grab the floor actively with our hands is absolutely key to long term success. In fact, just focusing on the hands and feet changes everything in training. Suddenly we feel more grounded, aligned and stable. With the right cues this happens rather quickly. So looking over this is a mistake that I used to make. Not anymore! Nowadays I would rather make my clients go crazy with my attention to details, but I need to be committed with their success.
Depending on the training program and what I’d like to achieve, I turn to any variations of the 4 `Go-To` core exercises. Namely the Bird Dog, Side Plank, Deadbug and Glute Bridge. It’s ideal to master all of them when it comes to beginners, so the simplest thing like creating tension and grabbing the Ultimate Sandbag in a Bird Dog position is a good starting point. Warming up with targeting cross connections like opposing glutes and lats alongside the core muscles that make up the most important movement pattern Walking is crucial for an effective warm up. Most of these muscles are shut off for a lot of people due to sitting and inactive lifestyle.
Bird Dogs can be used for warming up for any type of pressing exercises like Arc Presses, Push Presses, Lateral Drags or Push Ups as when pressing we’re using the Lats through the hands and the Glutes by squeezing the toes and the core is what keep them together. So the concept doesn’t change, our body position does.
The Glute Bridge is another fine example of the DVRT System as it’s done differently than most hip bridges. Just adding the Ultimate Sandbag to the bridge is already a plus in terms of turning on the muscles of the kinetic chain. The principles don’t change here either as both feet and hands play big role of activating the core/lats and glutes. However building layers to an already good exercise to make it even better is like tuning the body to perform at a higher level. Personally I’d like to use the Glute Bridges before any hip hinge movement as the pattern is the same, only the body position is different therefore I can maximize the main workout.
Side Planks can be ideal before any lateral strength movement like Lateral Steps, Lunges, Shoulder Loaded positions, Step Ups and so forth, as they target the lateral sling system in a much more stable position. Let the client earn their progressions here just as any of the previous warm ups. So starting with an Isometric Hold is great and moving towards more complex variations like rowing, hip clams, leg lifts is where we can progress. As we are or our clients are more successful with these methods, the more effective and quicker the warm ups are. Adding tools like mini bands or sliders to the warm up is not only make it easier to activate those muscles but can enhance and make more sophisticated our movement.
The possibilities of the Deadbug is endless when using an Ultimate Sandbag and adding the core strap and/or mini bands to the equation. This underrated exercise has a whole new meaning when it’s done with the Ultimate Sandbag. Focus should be on the easier variations like holds and heel touches at the beginning phase of a training program, whereas after developing good skills of the basics we can then introduce mini bands and core straps to challenge the core in different ways and positions.
Core exercise don’t need to be boring, rather we need to look at how we can enhance human movement and performance in a relatively short amount of time. This means active core, more stable spine, improved mobility, less injuries and better training experience on those big lifts that everyone enjoy doing.
Maximize warm-up with regressions/progressions
According to all of the above here are three different levels of warm-ups that can be done in 5-10 minutes.
Creating flows where more exercises are linked together is the best way to maximize warm up (assuming the foundations are right) and hit different chains of the body to improve stability, mobility and strength in minutes.