Whether it’s playing a sport, going for a jog, or training in the gym, we all want to perform at our best. Leaving performance gains on the table is something that most people who enjoy training do not want to do. However, implementing proper strategies to get the body moving and feeling better prior to your activity has become a hot topic to discuss as many are looking at figuring out ways to gain a competitive edge in any way possible. In this article, we are going to explain why priming the body through various methods can help get the body performing at its best every time you train!
Priming = Nervous System Readiness
When we discuss the word priming in training, we’re not going to go too far down the rabbit hole in terms of explanation. What we are ultimately discussing is the nervous system’s ability to become more excited than it currently would be a rest. Getting off of the couch and immediately going for a run versus doing some sort of activity that reflects what running might entail could go a long way in helping you reach that next personal best. Excitability in the nervous system helps allow athletes and people to feel more engaged with the body and feel more like it can handle more than just feeling sluggish jumping right into something. I know personally I’d rather prep my body to be able to deadlift 315 pounds versus going into that lift without any preparation at all.
How To Prime The Body
The main topic we’re discussing when it comes to priming the body is some sort of dynamic warm-up. A dynamic warm-up should increase body temperature, improve tissue extensibility, and move the body into positions that are either specific to the movements they’ll be doing during training or whatever task they might have on the docket that day. To be clear, a dynamic warm-up doesn’t have to just involve slow controlled movements. It can involve jumping, high dynamic effort work to again allow the body to start to ramp up its intensity for the task at hand. Here are a few examples of priming the body before a training session:
Over/Under Hurdle Drill – this drill is intended to improve hip mobility past 90 degrees with the over hurdle movement and then work on groin mobility as you go under the hurdle.
Heiden Sticks – this is intended to improve overall force production and absorption in a lateral movement to gear up the body for lateral movements such as landing and cutting on each leg.
World’s Greatest Stretch – this hits all the key areas for any type of full body movement that is going to be completed during the training session.
On the flip side, if you have certain lifts that need to be performed that day, you can do primer, accessory based movements prior to the main lift to help enhance that lift as well. Again, the important thing to remember is the intent as to why you’re doing a certain task. Aimlessly putting random exercises together without a plan is a good way to not see performance goals be met in the long run. Here’s a few examples below:
A2) Squat Pattern Of Choice
The incline bench weighted ankle mobilization helps get the ankle moving better into the dorsiflexion position so that as you descend into the squat, the ankle will hopefully not be the main limiting factor affecting that lift. The primer should help enhance the movement and allow a more efficient lift.
A2) Overhead Press Of Choice
The behind the neck press with the PVC primes the overhead shoulder mobility needed to get into that extreme range of motion without potentially compensating through the lower back. Whether it’s snatches, jerks, strict press, or whatever overhead movement it is, being able to get into that overhead position prior to loading up the shoulders with load is a good way to help successful lifts.
For those who don’t love to warm-up or feel like it takes forever, I’ll remind you again that there is plenty of evidence that shows getting the body ready and prepared for whatever activity you give it will go a long way in reducing injury risk and setting the body up for success. Warming up does not have to be this long drawn out process. If you have structure and intent in the movements that you’re doing, priming the body can be done in as little as 10 minutes depending on what activity you have lined up for that day! Give these things a shot next time you’re in the gym to keep those performance gains at the highest level!