I know, I know! I know what you’re thinking. Grooaannn who cares about warming up?!?! I’ve heard if for years. You’re thinking that you already know all the reasons why you need to warmup. Trust me, there’s nothing you’re telling me and yourself, that I haven’t heard before. So, I’m going to add some more reasons to help you understand the importance of a good warmup and why you should take it seriously.
You might be surprised to learn that muscles on their own, only contract at about 30% of their total ability. If you’re hoping to add to that percentage, you’ll need to get your Central Nervous System (CNS) firing.
Your CNS is the computer that controls all the activities of your body, including muscle contraction. Getting your CNS going can add an extra 5% to your muscles contraction ability by increasing the number of active motor units, and increasing the firing rate (firing frequency) at which individual motor units fire. Meaning using more of your muscles will make you stronger. But here’s the thing. To get your CNS working for you, it needs you to perform EXPLOSIVE movements in your warmup. Which means, if you’re just going through the motions getting through your warmup, you’re losing up to 5% of extra muscle strength. Think about it, your warmup might be costing you that PR.
Another thing that your CNS does is pattern recruitment. Which means it is constantly learning and remembering how to move you. And a lot of that movement is automatic, like the stretch/reflex involved in the leg muscles when jumping. When you want to jump, your CNS already knows what to do. But here’s the thing, along the way your CNS can also learn bad patterns. In Olympic Weightlifting, if a lifting pattern has been learned and been used for over 10 years, it cannot be changed. So moving well and often are important, including your warmup because if you don’t move properly in warmup, your CNS will learn that pattern.
Developing proper motor patterns is critical for success, so if you expect to train good habits when you’re under load, it is imperative that your warmups are done with the same intent. In addition to preparing your body to LIFT, in some cases, you actually may perform more reps of a particular movement during a warmup compared to the rest of the class. So when things get heavy, your CNS will revert to that pattern you used in warmup. Because that is where the vast majority of reps happen, and that’s the pattern your CNS has learned. So, don’t give me that “when I add weight I’ll move better” crap! You won’t! And now you’re only strengthening a bad pattern, and over time, it will become even harder to fix.
Your warmup is important, it’s where your CNS fires up to make you stronger, it’s where you do most of your reps and where your CNS learns to move. Do not overlook it, and show your warmup the respect it deserves. I promise, you’ll thank us.
See you on the platform.
CrossFit 6S team helping you achieve your fitness goals.