When I was an undergraduate in college, I was labeled a "gym rat."
To be fair, I did think about lifting weights more than I thought about lifting myself out of bed in the morning to go to class.
For me, the gym was both a blessing and a curse.
I loved working out, but as a poor college student, the curse was the money it cost to fulfill my obsession with buying the latest pre-workout supplement. I thought my workout would be pointless if I didn't first take the right supplement.
Then I learned about a better kind of pre-workout supplement:
This supplement isn't found at any nutrition store.
It doesn't come in a powder or capsule form.
Best of all, it's free.
And, there are research studies to back up its effectiveness.
The pre-workout supplement I'm talking about? Mobility training.
You were expecting something a little more exciting, right?
To be clear, I'm referring to an active, dynamic stretching protocol pre-workout, not static stretching.
Gone are the days of doing a quick, 10-second static triceps stretch before getting underneath the bar for a max weight bench press—don't be that guy or girl.
The research on pre-workout static stretching and its effects have come up with conflicting results, but much of it demonstrates either adverse effects or no benefit at all.
A quality, dynamic mobility routine has been shown to have benefits when done before a workout:
Mobility training prepares the body and enhances movement function and overall performance.
Doing pre-workout mobility training also helps prevent the pain people experience later, after years of working out.
Dynamic training teaches the body to avoid physical injury, both acute and long-term.
It also benefits the mind by telling it how the joints should move and how muscles contract during the execution of the actual exercise.
Here's an analogy to help you understand what happens to your body when you skip warm-ups and mobility training:
A screw, when threaded incorrectly, may still do its job initially. But, over time as the wear and tear of a daily routine is applied, the threads of the screw become stripped, its effectiveness disappears and is rendered useless. It can be quite a pain to fix.
I know what you're thinking because I thought the same thing:
"It already takes an hour to get through my current workout program without tacking on an additional pre-workout routine."
But hear me out—what if you experimented with mobility training by starting with just three quick movements?
I promise it will take you less than five minutes to complete before a workout. Just choose one exercise for each target area of the body—upper, lower, and core—and perform it in sets of two or three.
For example, you could start by doing shoulder dislocates, leg swings, and kettlebell windmills.
The word is out on mobility training and it's time to recognize just how important it is for overall fitness. The demand for wellness-specific resources has been ramping up in the past decade and it is something that we, as either fitness professionals or enthusiasts, need to pay attention to.
Many have already begun capitalizing on this trend. For example, Sal Di Stefano, a fitness professional, and co-host of the popular fitness podcast "Mind Pump", believes the fitness industry will have to address this area soon.
"First off, it's a competitive market, and the first to bring this to light will profit,"he said. "Second, the largest percentage of the population is aging and their issues can be greatly helped with correctional-based programming."
Sal and the Mind Pump team have already released two ground-breaking programs in the past year that focus on teaching the body proper movement patterns to fix pains and imbalances.
The ISSA has also recently released a Corrective Exercise course to address this need.
ISSA teaches us that there are four basic and important areas that constitute physical fitness:
While the first two components listed get most of the attention when discussing whether or not an individual is fit, flexibility is an area of fitness that cannot and should not be pushed to the bottom of the priority list.
Instead of expensive, pre-workout supplements, try a pre-workout mobility routine that will do so much more for your body and your health.
It's time to truly embody what it means to be "healthy" and "fit." Check the ISSA's Corrective Exercise Certification.
Kay, A.D. and A.J. Blazevich. "Effect of acute static stretch on maximal muscle performance: a systematic review." Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 44, no. 1, 2012, pp. 154-64.
McMillan, Danny, Josef Moore, Brian Hatler, and Dean Taylor. "Dynamic vs. Static-Stretching Warm up: The Effect on Power and Agility Performance". Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 20, no. 3, 2006, pp. 492-99.
Little, Thomas and Alun Williams. "Effects of Differential Stretching Protocols During Warm-ups on High Speed Motor Capacities in Professional Soccer Players". Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 20, no. 1, 2006, pp. 203-07.
Di Stefano, Sal. Mind Pump Media, www.mindpumpmedia.com. 2017.
Hatfield, Frederick. Fitness: The Complete Guide, Edition 9.0. International Sports Sciences Association, 2015.
The ISSA's Corrective Exercise Course will help you learn how to identify and correct the most common movement dysfunctions that you are likely to see in a wide range of clients.