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The Key Factors to Warming Up: Part Two

Activation Sequencing

The second key factor to warming up (see part one) for an effective lifting session is activation sequencing. What I am referring to here is making sure all the small stabilizing muscles of the body and ready to go for your lifts. This concept is known as "Proximal Stability for Distal Mobility". Let me explain that long term to you briefly.

  • Proximal: closest to the center of the body
  • Stability: the ability to maintain equilibrium in response to changing forces
  • Distal: farthest from the center of the body
  • Mobility: the ability to be elastic in response to changing forces

If I want to perform a good squat, let's think about this...I need all the muscles closest to my trunk to be fired up and ready to go so they keep my body weight centered over my feet and then my hips, knees and ankles can bend properly and be mobile. When I am asked what's more important to do to perform a good squat, I would rather see activation exercises performed than spending time smashing out your hamstring or calf. I can almost guarantee that the exercises below will make your training most effective and efficient than any other warm up methods.

So why don't I see more athletes approaching warming up this way? Most of the time, they just don't know the theory and have never been told to activate. If you don't know the theory, it's difficult to reap the benefits you should.

The final piece of the activation sequencing and warm up puzzle is to understand what your true core is. I learned this concept when I worked in sports performance and its revolutionary to changing how you perceive movement.

STOP saying "core" and START saying "pillar".

There are way more stabilizing muscles to your trunk than just your abs. Here is the list from bottom up:

  • Hip rotator cuff (gluteus medius/minimus, piriformis, obturator internus/externus, gemelli)
  • Pelvic Floor
  • Transverse Abdominus
  • Multifidii
  • Diaphragm
  • Obliques
  • Shoulder blade stabilizers
  • Front neck muscles

Yep, thats a lot of muscles and big terms. The goal isn't to remember all of that, it is just to open your eyes that there's a large world out there that needs to be active and fired up to support your training and prevent injury.

I worked with Xwerks athlete, ZA Anderson to put together our 5 favorite activation exercises for warming up in the video below. Hope you get on the activation train and see improvements in your training!

This was a guest post courtesy of Dr. Lauren Polivka. You can learn more about movement, repair and recovery by visiting her website here - or follow her on Instagram - @lapolivka11

View her previous post - The Keys Factors to Warming Up: Part One

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