Warming up before training or competing prepares your body so it will be ready to perform at its peak and safeguard against injury. However, a proper warm-up involves more than jogging in place for a few minutes and performing a few stretches. It should incorporate athletic movements that elevate your heart rate and increase your range of motion.
If your muscles aren't prepared to move when you step onto the field, you run the risk of injuring yourself. A proper warm-up increases blood flow; activates the nervous system connection between brain and muscles; increases body temperature; and prepares the cardiovascular and muscular systems for intense exercise.
Below is a 10-minute warm-up that I recommend performing before every workout, practice or game. It engages your entire body, including the neck, arms, core, hips and legs. When you finish, you will feel more flexible, mobile, powerful and prepared for action.
- Neck Rotations — 10 left, 10 right
- Arm Circles — 20 forward, 20 backward
- Chain Breakers — 20 in alternating fashion
- Trunk Twists — 20; make sure your eyes follow your belly button
- Windmills — 20; keep a straight line from left hand to right
- Squat to Stands — 10; keep hands on toes
- Straight-Leg Raises — 10 left, 10 right
- Iron Crosses — 5 crossing left, 5 crossing right
- Scorpions — 5 crossing left, 5 crossing right; keep shoulders on ground
- Push-Ups — 10
- Core Stretch — 30 seconds
- Glute Bridges — 2 sets of 30-second holds
- Thoracic Spine Exercise — 10 left, 10 right
- Core Activation (Planks or Bridges) — 2 sets of 60-second holds
Shelton Stevens is a member of the strength staff at the University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to joining USM, he was the head strength coach at Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). He has also worked under LSU strength coach Tommy Moffitt, helping to train the Tigers' nationally-ranked football team and their 2009 national champion baseball team. During his career, he has worked with four national champions, seven conference champions and 12 All-Americans. He is CSCCa, SCCC, USAW, NSCA and RSCC certified, and he holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and a master's degree in athletic administration.
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