We get it - you were born before the turn of the millennium, so much of your knowledge of health and fitness comes from the Jane Fonda Workout VHS and watching interviews with Arnie in junior high PE class. But you’re a grown-ass adult, and you’re still capable of learning new things.
It’s time to learn how to prepare your body for a productive training session.
“But I heard warming up is a waste of time!” I’m sure your buddy with the bad back who told you this helpful tidbit had your best interests in mind, and we completely agree that warming up like a recreational jogger in 1983 isn’t going to help you much. But if you spend most of your day in a low exertion environment and try to immediately transition into a high-exertion training session, you’re going to have problems.
This episode is about the right way to prepare yourself for training - how to get your mind in the right place, how to prepare your body to maximize the benefits of training, and how you can organize your environment for productive training.
Is it OK to skip prep and just start training? Sure, and you can also eat a frozen sausage without taking the wrapper off. But you’d be acting like an idiot, so cut it out and learn how to do things right.Support the show (https://gmb.io/podcast/)
Andy: [00:00:00] All right. All right. All right. Welcome to Granularity Mandates Beginnings. It's a very philosophical podcast. My name is Andy and I don't know what I'm talking about.
Ryan: [00:00:13] I'm Ryan and I'm here to support the fact that Andy doesn't know what he's talking about.
Andy: [00:00:17] Which is very helpful. I appreciate that.
Ryan: [00:00:22] I’m there for you man.
Prep Vs. Traditional Warm-Up
Andy: [00:00:24] Last week. So at GMB we have our programs in a platform that we made called Praxis. This is our kind of software that we've developed in-house to make our programs available to our clients. And so one of the neat things about that is we can see every day, every week, every hour, how many people are doing which programs, what programs they're doing and how they're going through.
So last week 13,288 workouts logged, which is really cool. And one of the thing that is relevant today is each of those workouts included a section called Prep, which is our particular take on warming up. But. I know a lot of people don't like warmups and skip warmups. So let's talk about why that is so important to us and how it's different from the way people usually think about this.
Ryan: [00:01:15] Yeah. So if you could imagine back to when we had gym class now, depending on how old you are, you might not have had gym class, but back in my day, we had gym class. And I do remember that it was different from elementary school to junior high, to high school. But one thing that was in common was the fact that you didn't really prepare your body, the way that we do in GMB.
It was basically okay let's warm up by running laps. Let's do jumping jacks. Let's just basically do something that you absolutely hate. But also doesn't really correlate to the thing that you're doing that day. And so it's more like punishment. Or maybe just say, Hey, let's touch our toes or do something basically again, that didn't really relate and help you for what you were doing that day.
Now, I think a lot of us can relate to that. And I think because of that we still have this stigma today that thinking that before we do something, maybe we should warm up, but we really don't want to, because what's the point in warming up.
Our take though is a little bit different on this. And we look at things as preparing the body for what you're doing that day. And so that's what we're going to be talking about today.
Andy: [00:02:27] So our job over the next few minutes is to look a little bit about what are the parts of warming up that people hate because there's some very legitimate reasons that people don't want to do this. And also the way that we've all learned to warm up, a lot of it is not very helpful. But then we want to explain what are some of the ways that you can productively prepare for a good training session and convince you to prioritize that effort every time.
Ryan: [00:02:54] Yes.
Andy: [00:02:55] All right. First Ryan you mentioned school PE and stuff. And I remember I had one, I think it was in ninth grade. I had one PE coach. It was the last year that I had to take PE and his idea of a warmup was wind sprints, or as he called them, pukers.
Ryan: [00:03:15] Jesus.
Andy: [00:03:16] So he would, depending on his mood, would have us do 20 pukers as a warmup, which makes no sense, right? Like you don't want to start your workout by puking. And even if you don't puke, wind sprints, that's exhausting. That's the thing you should do at the end. Like you mentioned, like jumping jacks or jogging or trying to touch your toes cold, these things don't help.
So first off, when we talk about warming up, like Ryan said, that's not what we mean. These things have no value or any value they have is best placed at a different part of the session.
Ryan: [00:03:49] Yeah. Yeah.
Andy: [00:03:50] Definitely not the goal. And yeah, if you look at research that's been done on warmups, you'll find that there's usually not a lot to really recommend them in terms of studies done.
And one of the reason for this is just semantics because the things that get called warmups are these traditional things like sprinting before workout or doing cold stretching before a workout. And there's the famous study that proves static stretching causes injury. But what it really is that it was a bunch of track and field athletes that were doing, just stretching the shit out of their hamstrings before doing sprints and of course they hurt
Ryan: [00:04:32] Right, right. A lot of people think that, well, I've got to get the blood flowing. I've got to warm up myself up, literally so that I can start doing this stuff that we're doing.
Now, there is a part of that where yes, I do agree. You're not just going to jump into something and just do it. And be able to do it. It's going to take the body a little bit of time to get used to what's going on, but it doesn't correlate in terms of warming the body up. We're talking about the central nervous system and looking at really preparing the body to be able to do the certain things that you want.
You know, both of us martial artists. We both know that the majority of the warmups in our martial art classes are just absolutely crap and have nothing to do really with what's going on. I remember so many times, especially in judo where we just do Hindu pushups and just all these stuff and you're just exhausted by the time you've finished with that.
And then you try and go practice your technique. I just always thought it was silly. That kind of thing I always think should be at the end of practice, but that is another good example of simply where we've always done it this way therefore we'll keep doing it this way. And so it's a tradition sort of thing.
What Not to Do
Andy: [00:05:41] So I think right off the bat, and we can say there's two things that should not be part of your warmup. One is that it shouldn't be irrelevant. And the other is that it shouldn't be exhausting. So I think we can very clearly say these two things, your warm up your prep should not be irrelevant or exhausting.
Let's look at a couple of the other things that I think people get wrong with warmups that cause them to feel it's a waste of time or to abandon them. And I think a lot of people listening to this are pretty, well-informed about a lot of fitness and health stuff. We're not the only people that you're listening to or learning from.
You've discovered that there are lots of tools, lots of tactics, lots of strategies, lots of different protocols. You can use all kinds of different ways that you can use mobility bands, foam rollers, lacrosse balls, hip wedges. I saw a thing that you can stretch out your psoas with by lying down on a hunk of plastic yesterday. We have all of these amazing tools at our disposal.
And I think the other direction that people can go with things that's really sometimes destructive is thinking that you have to do 45 minutes of rehab prehab, and just various, I call it the junk drawer of tools and tactics before you get into your session.
Ryan: [00:07:05] Yeah. Yeah. It's become quite common, right. Because there's so many good things out there and yes, they can be good when they're used appropriately. And I think really that's the thing that we're after. Is this helping or is it just taking away from your practice? And a lot of times it's mainly just taking away from your practice because people are spending more and more time working out their glutes and rolling out X and doing things like that.
So while these things are good, yes used appropriately, don't overdo it and thinking that you have to be doing your entire body and rolling through everything and prepping it in that way just to start your session. And we'll talk more about that in a second.
Andy: [00:07:50] I think that there is a lot of things that you could, we could try to harp on here. But let's just go on and say the three Cardinal sins then would be, irrelevance exhaustion, or just too much damn stuff. These are the three things that I think many warmups fall into.
And they're definitely, from what I hear people saying, when they say they hate warmups or they skip the warmup is that these are the problems. And one of the biggest ones is time.
And it's important because we're all busy. Life is busy. There's a lot of things that we want to do with our time and we have to prioritize. So we're all too busy to do things that don't help.
So I think in distinction to those, we should just quickly talk about before getting into specific some of the things that maybe a warm-up should do instead. And these are the reasons why we prioritize having this dedicated Prep portion of all of our sessions for GMB because there are things that you need to do or that really are beneficial, that the benefit to investment ratio is really high that you can include that don't have to take up a lot of time.
And, one of the reasons is like, Ryan, you mentioned you don't, you can't, or you can, but you don't want to just jump from zero into a high intensity kind of activity because your body does need time to transition. Your central nervous system needs to sort of groove the neural pathways or something highly imprecise language here but, your soft tissues, ligaments need to be stretched and tested beyond their limited range of motion and put through a wider range of motion. You sort of need to calibrate things and let your body get ready to perform.
Mental & Logistical Prep
Ryan: [00:09:42] Absolutely. And that's the physical side of it. We look at the mental side of it as well as actually preparing yourself and letting yourself let go of whatever is in your mind so that you can focus on your practice portion of that. And so it's a transitional phase where you're going from, to give a strange metaphor where if you're living in Japan, you always take your shoes off when you enter the entryway because you're leaving outside. And when you step inside, you're separating yourself from that by taking your shoes off.
So likewise, if you look at it this way, when you step on the mat, if you will, for your Prep, then what you're doing is you're transitioning into that frame of mind where you're getting ready for your session. That's a huge one. Andy and I have talked about this before.
Andy: [00:10:26] Yeah, I think that's really good. We could probably just make that sort of the crux reframe here. Instead of warming up and just trying to do a bunch of stuff or trying to squeeze a bunch of things in, what are the activities that help you best transition getting out of car or watching TV or whatever you were doing before that helps you transition mentally, physically, whatever to being able to get the most value out of the training you're about to do.
Ryan: [00:10:57] Yeah that's good. And it can be a matter of just changing your clothes, going into your workout room, if you have a workout room. If you're in martial arts, it's putting on your gi, your uniform, tying your belt. So what is that? And I don't want to say ritual, but what is that thing that's going to allow you transition from before to here and the now with your session?
Andy: [00:11:19] And so this is kind of under the category of stuff that I would call parts of the rituals that we might get into. But let's start from the macro side, and this is what I would call logistical stuff. This is where, the prep that you do on the space that you're going to be in.
It could be stepping into the gym, stepping onto the mat, whatever. Right. The equipment you're going to have, if you're using rings in this session, make sure that they're ready. If you're going to use another tool, get it ready and set it to the place where you need it.
If you're just doing this stuff in your living room, scoot the coffee table out of the way and maybe vacuum real quick. But get your space ready. Turn off your TV, open a window if you can. Get some sunlight and air. Things like this. Part of it is ritualistic.
You are just, you're triggering your body to be into a training mode. But the other part of it is also making sure, it doesn't sound cool, safety.
Ryan: [00:12:13] Yep.
Andy: [00:12:14] Making sure that your stuff is ready for you that you don't have to worry about bumping into something or your rings falling off the whatever. Checking that stuff and making sure that your environment is ready for you to have a training session.
Ryan: [00:12:28] Absolutely which having that safety takes us to the next point, which is the mental side of it. And by setting yourself up to make sure that you're doing this in a safe environment, it's going to allow you to transition into calming your mind and getting you ready for what's going on.
All of us are taking outside anxiety into whatever we're doing. We are, we just all are. That's just how it is. The key though is, are you able to reframe and make that transition to allow yourself to focus and bring more awareness into your body for that session? And so this is where the Prep comes into play is that we're able to bring awareness.
By bringing awareness into our body, we know that that's going to help us to be better at the skills that we're practicing, but the only way that you can do that is if you are in a good mental state. And that's why starting off, like Andy said, the logistical side of it, making sure you're in a safe environment, have the tools that you need to do are going to lead directly into that mental side of it, allowing you to be able to calm yourself for that session.
Andy: [00:13:29] And so this is something that is also, I think, a little distinct when we're talking about skill-based kind of training, like we do at GMB, to something that's more based on intensity or load. I had friends in high school that their whole lives revolved around listening to metal and getting real aggro and going and lifting.
I hear a lot of people, "Oh yeah. I turned my anger into fuel for my workouts." And I completely get it. That's completely cool if that is the thing that is helping you get the most out of that practice. Just like anxiety or stress, elevated sense of the high vagus stimulus, this highly stimulated state of being angry or being pumped up, actually, this is close to the fight or flight stimulus that we're dealing with.
And when you are in fight or flight mode, your brain diverts attention away from things like pain or micro control, right? Fine motor skills decrease a little bit. Blood flows into your muscles and out of your brain, so this is fine if you're just trying to do more work in less time actually.
Ryan: [00:14:46] Exactly. And if you only need to perform gross motor skills yeah.
Andy: [00:14:49] But when we're talking about things like handstands, when we're talking about things like coordinated movements of, in our Elements program, we have the bear crawl, which looks like it's just crawling. But then when we have further advanced versions of that later on in the program, like the Spider-Man where you're sinking down onto one arm and you're actually turning the shoulder joint, as you absorb weight onto it. This is a finer movement skill, and it requires coordination and balance of the shoulder and the hip and the arm and the hand and all of these things.
So, if you're trying to learn these more complex movements, if you're trying to balance, if you're trying to move very quickly, if you're working on smoothing out a motor pattern, then these things you don't want to be in a heightened state for. You want to be calm. You want to be calm and be able to be aware of your body rather than being hyped.
Ryan: [00:15:42] Exactly. Yeah. Yes. Yes. As you're going into those things too, being able to bring that awareness. Another thing too, that's very good in the beginning is to mentally prepare yourself by reviewing your goals.
And by staying calm, and not getting so hyped up, you can focus on those goals and hopefully you really only have a single goal that you're after that day, for you to focus on. A whole other topic. We talked about this before, but really get your intentions set. What do you want out of this session and go into it with a clear mind so that you can perform the work that you're going to be doing that day.
Andy: [00:16:19] And the other part of mental prep is it's a great time when you're getting ready to do your session, even while you're preparing is to think about the last session that you had. What were the things that you can learn from that? What were the things that felt really good or the things that you want to work a little harder on.
You've been working on this movement and it's getting there, but you can't quite smooth it out. So you went and reviewed a video and looked at it and you need to remind yourself that, okay, today's session. I'm just focus on, sinking my hips down into my squat, rather than trying to get my heels to the floor.
I'm just going to try to sink my weight and see what happens. And those are the things that mentally you can set those intentions ahead of time while you're preparing so that when you go into your training session, you already know what you're supposed to be focused on. You don't have to stop your flow in the middle to think, okay, next exercise. What do I need to be thinking about?
Ryan: [00:17:12] Yeah. Yeah, so let's transition into the physical part of it. And this is what everybody, you know, was really more focused on. And I do want to say that what we've just talked about before, logistics and the mental side of it, this shouldn't take a long time at all. I mean, this is very quick.
And it's going to become second nature in that you'll be able to quickly review what's going on. And so, even though we talked a lot about those things, don't think that you need to spend 5, 10, 15 minutes doing all that stuff.
What we're really after is really to get into our Prep, the physical side of it in order to really. assess where our body is that day. This is really for us, at least, important because that is really going to determine how the rest of the session is going to be set up. And so as a diagnostic tool, we're looking at how are you feeling that day, your energy levels. Are there certain places in your body that maybe need more attention?
Really coming back to that goal of that day. This is where, looking at the overall goal for that session and making sure that you're preparing for that particular practice. What I mean by this is that we are performing something, I don't know, let's just throw the handstand out there.
Well, let's make sure that we warm up the wrists. Let's make sure that we will warm up the shoulders and you know what, that could be good enough. And so this kind of goes into the next discussion of where you don't necessarily need to spend a long time doing your Prep. You only need to do enough to make sure that you're good to start the skill.
And that's really where this is at. But what you do need to have is that awareness in your body to know how you're feeling that day. Maybe you do need a little bit more of a prep, a little bit of a warm up, more warm up on your wrists, because maybe your wrist is sore from doing something the day before.
But again, this physical portion of it shouldn't be, it doesn't need 30 minutes just to get you upside down. Yeah.
Andy: [00:19:10] I mean, I do in my own training, like I always do have a few things that I do that are kind of very general and aren't specific to the training.
Ryan: [00:19:20] Me too. Me too. I do. Yeah. I'm the same. Yeah.
Andy: [00:19:23] And we have a couple of these in all of our GMB stuff that we've added, just because we think they're really valuable, but there's another reason why we have a couple of ringers in there every time too.
It's not just because, it's not just to say everybody needs to work on this, but it's because you also need at least one or two movements in your physical prep that you always do, that you can use as your kind of baseline and just like you were saying, Ryan, is, it gives you a sense of where you're at in your body that day.
But you need something that doesn't change, that isn't specific to the movements coming up, that's always there and that you've done so many thousands of times. You know, eventually like you and I over decades of martial art or whatever, like I've had exercises, like I know I've done at least a hundred thousand times. At least!
Ryan: [00:20:15] Right? Yeah. Cause we've been doing it since we were kids.
Andy: [00:20:17] It's crazy. And so you have these things and I'll be honest, man. I do not get a whole lot of actual physical improvement value out of the neck exercises that we do in our martial arts warm up anymore. But I've done them so many damn times that if I move my head a certain way, I can tell immediately if anything feels even slightly off. And then I know, Oh, maybe my neck is tight or my shoulders are tight or my back needs to loosen up a little bit more.
But this is the thing. This is the diagnostic where you just are, you have something that you're so familiar with that you can tell immediately if anything is off. And that doesn't mean that you stop, it just means that you are aware of that. And you know that as you go into the rest of your movements, that, if you're doing hand balancing or if you're doing pushups or pull-ups, or something is like, Oh man, my right shoulder feels a little stiffer today. I just need to be aware of that. It's a thing to know. It doesn't mean that you, it doesn't necessarily mean anything's wrong. This is a thing to be aware of.
Ryan: [00:21:25] Yes. Yeah. There are people that can kind of freak out and say, Oh my goodness, I shouldn't be doing something. But again, just like Andy said, this is just something to take note of. And if you're okay, use those movements afterwards. So you do your prep and then you start to do your handstand.
That's where you really start to get a feel for what's going on in that day. And so you're just aware of it and you can bring that awareness into the actual skill work and go from there. So that's why the Prep is just so important to us.
Andy: [00:21:53] And so one more thing that has been kind of interesting because we started off mentioning that some people don't like doing prep because they think it's a waste of time. But since we have redesigned all of our programs based on the new Praxis, the software system that we've made, some of the people that have done the older versions of the programs and the newer versions. One of the sort of surprising bits of feedback we've gotten is that the warmups are now, the Prep is now too short is what we've heard from a few people.
And the reason for that is that we are doing less dedicated prep in the Prep section, but then what comes after Prep is the Practice component. And so when you're practicing, let's say that day is a Cartwheel, right? Well, your first few attempts are also kind of an extension of your Prep.
And this is the thing, is that Prep isn't a cut and dry thing that begins and ends and you're done prepping. As you go into the other parts of your session, as you began practicing skills, or as you go into an exercise or a circuit that you're going to be pushing yourself harder in, the first few reps, the first few attempts they're also preparatory.
You're also transitioning again. The transition is the key here. There are transitional too. The other thing is just don't think that Prep is a thing that it's one specific set of things. Once it finishes, it's done.
Everything you do, your first couple of them is preparatory and exploratory as you're going on throughout the session too.
Ryan: [00:23:27] Yes. Very glad you brought that up because it's just so important. Don't think that you're just going to jump into your best handstand because you just finished your five minute prep work.
There is that transition. It's always going to be a transitional phase for that. Just take that into mind whenever you're doing that.
Andy: [00:23:43] Yeah. Okay. So just to wrap things up. Do you really have to warm up? No, but smart people do prepare themselves to get the most out of their session. And the things to avoid though are doing too much stuff. And, what was the other one?
Ryan: [00:24:02] Because you asked me, I completely forgot. Irrelevant, um, I know it's in there somewhere.
Andy: [00:24:10] Well, let's just make it those. I'm sure there was an extra one, but hey, if you find yourself doing it, stop. But instead, instead of just throwing, doing wind sprints to start out, right. Oh, exhaustion. That was it.
Ryan: [00:24:24] Thank you. There you go. Yes, yes, yes. Whew.
Andy: [00:24:28] Irrelevance, exhaustion, or too many things. I knew it would come back to me. But those are the things you want to avoid. And instead you should really be looking at how do you make this transition into a valuable training session and the ways to do that are by looking at your environment, getting your mind ready and getting your body ready.
It's not just a set of exercises. Prep is more than a set of mobility drills that you do before your squats. It's ongoing work. It's self-assessment like we talk about all the time. And we built these things into our programs, because these are the things that all successful athletes do, whether they use these words for them or not. They do. This is how you can make sure that you are getting a lifetime of value out of the training that you do , rather than just wasting a lot of time doing a bunch of stuff that somebody told you on a YouTube video was really like totally good for you, man.
Ryan: [00:25:29] Totally. All right. I'm going to roll. I'm going to go roll out my glutes and, you know, with my bands and stuff. So thanks for listening everybody.
Andy: [00:25:37] I've got to change the battery, the batteries in my foam roller. It's about eight inches long. Thanks for listening. And get preppin’ folks.
Ryan: [00:25:48] Laters. Bye. Bye.