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Growing up as an athlete, you've probably performed several warm-up variations—some more effective than others. You can probably recall your gym teachers having you run laps and do Push-Ups and Sit-Ups at the beginning of class. Although the idea was on track, many common warm-ups have serious issues that can impair your performance and put you at risk for injury.
Here are five ways you might be screwing up your warm-ups, and how to correct them:
Always start with something that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to your muscles, such as a light jog and Jumping Jacks. Perform a two-minute light jog followed by 15 Jumping Jacks. If you don't have the space to jog, jump rope instead.
Starting With Static Stretches
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), evidence shows that beginning a workout or sporting event with static stretches (stretches held for time) decreases strength and reduces performance. Also, static stretches have not been proven to prevent injury. Save static stretches for after your workout (Check out this post-workout static stretching routine from the Utah Jazz).
Avoiding Dynamic Stretches
You have to bring the joints you are about to use through their full range of motion via dynamic stretches that mimic athletic movements. If you fail to do this, you put yourself at risk for injury and may impair your performance during the first minutes of your game. Watch this video of a dynamic warm-up and perform it before your workouts.
Neglecting Injury Prevention
If you're not healthy, you will not be able to play or perform at your highest level, so injury prevention should be at the top of your list of things to do. To stay in the game, perform the following exercises during your warm-ups.
Sets/Reps: 1x15 each arm
Sets/Reps: 1x15 each arm
Lateral Band Walks
Sets/Reps: 2x15 each way
Lifting Heavy Loads Too Quickly
If your max set on your Squat—or any exercise—is, say, 315 pounds, don't start with 315 pounds on your first set. Begin with an empty barbell for a few reps, then add more weight and work up to your max set. Don't wear yourself out during your warm-up sets. You don't want fatigue to limit your main sets. Watch Andrew Luck perform the "World's Greatest Dumbbell Warm-Up."
Take your warm-up to the next level with the STACK Guide to Warming Up.