Everyone knows the guy in the gym that says "well if I didn't hurt my shoulder I would be able to bench 350 pounds." The best way to prevent injury and not become that guy is to ensure that your muscles and joints are properly warmed up before training. In this article, I will be covering my personal favorite upper body warm ups, as well as other tips and tricks to make sure you're prepared for a great workout.
The shoulder is undoubtedly the most injury-prone body part in the upper body. It is made up of several muscles, joints, bones and ligaments that work together to control the movement of the arm. In my opinion, the shoulder deserves the most attention when warming up the upper body, because of the many movements the shoulder is responsible for. Here are my favorite warm-ups:
Rotator Cuff Exercises
The Rotator Cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that provide stability for the shoulder (tendons) as well as the ability to rotate the shoulder both internally and externally (muscles). When weight training, these two factors are crucial, making the rotator cuff an essential body part to warm up. There are many ways to warm up the rotator cuff, and it is important to use light weights when doing so, to prevent fatigue. The two pictures below show the two movements I perform before any upper-body workout (can be done with dumbbells, cables or bands.)
Bands can be extremely helpful for warming up and stretching muscles prior to a workout, and band pull-aparts are a great warm up for the rear delts and upper back. Use a lower-resistance band, and do 2 sets of 5 reps with a 5-10 second hold on each rep for a great warm up.
The back is a large part of the body that is often neglected when warming up. It is made up of many large and small muscles along with the vertebrae and spinal cord. In this article I will cover the upper back, and the lower back will be covered in the next article which covers my favorite lower body warmups. Here are a few great warm ups for your upper back:
The Latissimus Dorsi, or Lat, are large muscles on either side of the upper back that controls many movements, such as extension, adduction and flexion of the torso. It is important to stretch these muscles before and after working out because tight lats are miserable and may negatively affect your workout. Pictured below is one of many ways to stretch and engage the lats.
Another example of the effectiveness of bands as tools for a warm up is the band row. The band row is an excellent exercise to engage and warm up the rhomboid muscles and the trapezius (trap) muscle. Using a low to medium resistance band, perform 2 sets of 10 reps with a 1-2 second hold while you pull your elbows back as far as possible.
- Drink plenty of water, at least 100 oz of water per day, water is essential and lack of hydration can ruin any workout
- Don't be afraid to do 5-10 minutes of low-intensity cardio before a workout to warm up
- Bands can be used to keep the muscles warm during rest periods to keep the muscles engaged