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An Inside Look at Northstar Fitness Dynamic Warm-Ups

What is a Dynamic Warm-Up?

A dynamic warm-up involves active movements that prepare the body for a specific sport or activity. Unlike static stretching, it includes exercises like lunges, leg swings, and arm circles, which increase muscle temperature, enhance blood flow, and raise the heart rate. 

Why is a Dynamic Warm-Up Important?

A dynamic warm-up improves muscle performance, coordination, and flexibility, and helps prevent injuries by gradually preparing the body for the physical demands of the upcoming activity. Dynamic warm-ups are essential to any training or competition routine, ensuring the body is well-prepared and reducing the risk of injury.

How Do We Do Dynamic Warm-Ups at Northstar Fitness?  

Our standard training at Northstar Fitness is known as Functional Training.  Functional Training involves exercises that improve daily movement skills by focusing on strength, balance, and flexibility through real-world body mechanics.  It is a holistic approach to fitness.  

Our warm-ups get straight to the point, getting the entire body ready for strength training within 12 minutes.  Generally, the structure is like this:

Soft Tissue Work via Foam Rolling (2:00-3:00)

Foam rolling before training can significantly improve the quality of the warm-up by addressing specific muscular and joint issues, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the training session.

This is usually only 4-6 areas for 20 seconds each, which generally takes around 2:00 to complete. Clients choose the areas that are particularly tight for them.  For many people these tight areas are the calves, glutes, and the lats (latissimus dorsi).  Here’s a video demonstration below. 

Dynamic Warm-Up (7:20)

This consists of 8 different movements that prepare the body for the main sets ahead. Here is a video demonstration below.

Power-Focused Work (2:00-3:00) 

My rationale for incorporating power training right after the warm-up and before strength training is that it takes advantage of the nervous system being fresh and responsive, maximizing the effectiveness of power-focused exercises.

This training routine is divided into two main categories: lower-body explosive work and upper-body explosive work. Typically, each category involves performing 2-3 sets of 5 repetitions, with a rest period of 20-30 seconds between each set. I tailor this routine to meet the specific needs of individual clients. To illustrate, here are examples of both lower-body and upper-body power exercises:

Side Note: With some clients I incorporate jump rope or jumping jacks for 2 to 3 minutes at the start of the warm-up to raise their body temperature and get full body blood-flow.  HERE is a link to a video where I explain my approach to jumping rope. 

The Rationale of Each Movement in the Dynamic Warm-Up

I’d like to share with you the reason for each of the movements in our Dynamic Warm up:

  1. Shaolin Twists – This is just a name I made up because it is a way to open up the body and feel like it is flowing like water.  Although there is leg engagement in this movement, it’s mainly a rotational movement that focuses on the loosening up the upper body. 
  2. Hands-on-Chins Elbow-to-Knees Squats – This is a Squat pattern targets the thighs (quadriceps) and warms up the ankles, knees and hips.  I overlap the hands and touch the elbows to the knees on each rep.  This ensures a deep squat on each repetition. 
  3. Band Pull Apart  – This is a straight arm pull movement, as the elbows stay straight.  This targets the rear deltoids (rear shoulder), rhomboids (muscles that connect the spine to the shoulder blades) and the trapezius.  It enhances shoulder stability and posture, strengthens the upper back, balances muscle development, and is useful for warming up and preventing shoulder injuries.  I use THESE bands.  
  4. Alternating Archer Cossack Squat – This is a lower body exercise that improves hip, leg, and core strength, mobility, and flexibility, involving a wide stance with one leg squatting and the other extended.  The arm movement challenges coordination and balance and also retracts the scapula (brings the shoulder blades back).   
  5. Hang – This is a powerhouse!  It works grip strength, decompresses the spine, decompresses and mobilizes shoulder joints, and helps correct posture.  
  6. Supine Bridge with Reach – This engages the hamstrings, glutes and core (abs and lower back).  The reaching motion enhances shoulder flexibility and mobility.  It also improves rotational mobility of the spine.   
  7. Push Up to One-Arm Downward Dog Toe Touch – This is an upper-body horizontal push movement that targets the chest, front deltoids (front shoulder), triceps and core.  The downward dog toe touch challenges balance, and coordination and stretches the calves and hamstrings.  It also enhances blood flow to the brain through inversion.  
  8. Accelerating Band Deadlifts – This is a hip-hinge movement that targets all of the muscles on the back side of the body from the base of the neck to the Achilles tendon.  The reason I put the accelerated version of this exercise here is because it is the last movement of the warm-up, so the body is ready to move with more power and speed. It acts as a perfect segue to the Power Part of the training session which is even more aggressive and powerful.  I use THESE bands.   

How You Can Use This Dynamic Warm-Up

Here are three ways you can use this:

  1. Before Strength Training – You can effectively use this routine before any strength training session. It is particularly beneficial when your session involves a full-body workout.
  2. Before Playing Sports – If you play recreational sports, this is a great way to make sure you are ready to play full out while reducing your chances of injury.
  3. As a Daily Movement Practice – Performing the Dynamic Warm-Up on its own takes approximately 8 minutes. It’s an excellent method to begin your day, helping to prepare both your body and mind. This warm-up can be done at any time during the day. Regularly practicing this simple routine can enhance your life quality by improving movement, reducing joint pain, and promoting better posture.

Wrapping it Up

Warming up is crucial for those who intend to make training a regular part of their lifestyle. While the Dynamic Warm-Up is not the only method, it is a wise and holistic approach. I update the entire warm-up routine every 6 weeks, resulting in 10 unique warm-ups throughout the year. I will share each of these with you, providing detailed breakdowns similar to the one in this article.

If you are interested in improving your health or life, take me up on a complimentary 60-minute Zoom call.  If that’s something that you feel would be helpful to you, please book a call HERE.  I’m here to help. 

Yours in Transformation,