Movement Preparation: How to Warm Up

Guest post by: Nick Outlaw

Nick is a CES, Corrective Exercise Specialist, who is the owner of OutlawFit LLC

Now is a great time to be alive!  We live in a moment when most, if not all legitimate, experts in Exercise Science agree on something.  They agree on a specific order of the process on how one should prepare for their workout.  Major Sports Medicine agencies such as NASM, along with world renowned coaches use the same order to prepare their athletes and clients before each session and NOW you can warm up like the pros!!

I am going to give you a basic overview of each step in this process.  If you would like more info or would like to learn from a local expert you can contact Michael Anders (Charlotte, NC) or myself (Raleigh, NC) and we would be happy to set up an appointment for one of us to go over this with you in person!

Movement Preparation Process

  1. Soft Tissue
  2. Stretching
  3. Activation
  4. Dynamic Warm Up
  5. Workout

Both Michael and I take each new client through an initial series of assessments to determine overly active and weak areas.  From the information we gather, we are able to prescribe specific overly active areas to foam roll (soft tissue), stretch, and inhibited/weak muscles to activate that are unique for every individual.  We create a customized program from start to finish, meaning we prepare every one of our clients for their unique needs.

  •   Step one, soft tissue work, can be done with several different tools such as a foam roller, lacrosse ball, and two tennis balls taped together to name a few.   Depending on the area that you are doing your soft tissue work will help determine which tool you will use to release your “trigger points” (overly active areas).   For example, a lacrosse ball works better on the bottoms of the feet than a foam roller.  Once you find the trigger point, usually a very tender point, you will press and hold the tool against the area for at least 30 seconds and up to 2 minutes until the area releases.  You will continue this process on the major areas of the body that negatively impact your quality of movement.
  •   Step two, static stretching, will be done on the same muscles and areas that you released during step one with specific stretches for those areas.  Each static stretch should be done for at least 30 seconds on the overly tight muscles to return them back to their proper length tension ratio.
  •   Step three, activation, will be done on the antagonist, opposing, muscles of the muscles that you foam rolled and stretched.   A very simplified example would be foam rolling and stretching your hamstring, then activating your quadriceps muscles with leg extensions.  We also use activation exercises to “turn on” the muscles that are “off” and are not firing like that are designed to.  One of my favorite activation exercises that I frequently use with clients is a lateral band walk to activate the gluteus medius.
  •   Step four, dynamic warm up, is a series of exercises that mimic the main exercises of your workout.  The goal of the warm up is to “warm up” your core temperature and to get you moving through your fullest range of motion of the exercises before you increase your intensity.  An example of a warm up for squats would be to start with a semi squat and gradually increase your range of motion each rep until you have reached your full range of motion or natural depth.  Also, it is common to complete a general warm up in this phase as well to ensure your core temperature is up, e.g. jump rope, jogging, biking for 5-10 minutes starting slow and gradually increasing your intensity.  A good rule of thumb is to warm up until you have broken a light sweat.
  •   Last, but not least is your workout routine.  If you have completed the previous 4 steps properly, you will move and feel your BEST!  We design each client’s movement preparation and programs based of their specific needs and abilities.  You will be surprised what a detailed analysis will uncover about your movements.

I hope that this helps and gives you a better idea of the proper way to get ready for your next performance!!  You can contact me personally at

No Comments

Post A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.