I'm an idiot. Yesterday I went to the gym. I was tired, I wasn't concentrating and it's hot here in Bali so I lazily skipped my usual warm-up. In about 2 minutes, I had managed to tweak a muscle in my upper back with a wonky bench press. So I thought I'd put together a full yoga warm-up so that you don't do the same thing and have to miss out on your ride at the weekend.
A good warm-up can improve your speed, power, agility and reaction time. Save static stretching for your cool-down, as it has been shown to reduce force production and athletic performance. Your aim is to switch on, not off.Warm-Up Objectives
- Focus your mind
- Activate your central nervous system
- Circulate blood and oxygen to your muscles
- Increase heart rate and body temperature
- Move your joints through full range of motion
- Activate smaller muscles
- Loosen up tight muscles
- Engage neuromuscular communication
- Bring your attention to your body and posture
- Reduce your risk of injury
- Decrease recovery timeReady, Aim, Fire
I've broken this warm-up into 4 parts: focus the mind, mobilise the joints, activate the musculature and move dynamically. It should take around 10 minutes. This is just one possible set of poses – so substitute in or out the exercises that work for you.1. Focus the Mind
“A quiet mind is a powerful mind.” Jim Afremow, The Champion's Mind
Start with 4 rounds of Box Breathing. Sit comfortably with your spine straight. Inhale through your nose for 5, hold your breath for 5, exhale out your nose for 5, and hold your breath out for 5. Repeat 4 times.
Try to stay focused on your breath throughout the exercise. 2. Mobilise the Joints
Warm up each of your joints in turn, with 4-6 circles in each direction – wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck (half circles), hips, knees and ankles. Take it slow, remembering not to hold your breath.
Mobilise your spine into extension and flexion with 4-6 rounds of Cat-Cow
, then bend your spine laterally – looking over your right and left shoulders 4-6 times on each side, come into Thread The Needle
pose for a twist, and then draw circles with your hips 4-6 times in each direction.
Pay particular attention to your thoracic spine – as stiffness here can cause pain in between the shoulder blades. 3. Activate the CoreGlute Bridges
Slowly lift and lower your hips 6-8 times – squeezing your glutes at the top the pose. Inhale to lift and exhale to lower. Be careful not to crunch your lower back.Bird Dogs
Inhale, reach your right leg forward and your left leg back, exhale, bring your elbow in to touch your knee. Repeat 4-6 times on each side, engaging your core and moving with your breath.Dynamic Side Planks
Hold Side Plank
for 30 seconds on each side, or lift and lower your top leg 4-6 times to intensify core activation. Make sure that your supporting shoulder is in a safe, stable position.4. FinishersWalk the Dog
Walk out your feet in Downward Dog
to warm up your calves and hamstrings, and engage your shoulders. Breathe slowly – in and out through your nose.Lunge Twists
From Downward Dog, step your left foot in between your hands and sweep your left hand up to the sky. Step back to Downward Dog for the other side. Repeat 4-6 times on each side to open up your hips and twist your spine.3 Pro Tips
- Hydrate properly.
- Warm up barefoot if you can, to activate your feet and ankles.
- Practice 5-4-3-2-1 – a technique to trigger flow state that @snl1200
shared in an article
last month. List five sights, four sounds, three sensations related to touch, two smells and one taste (remembered or current).
Please share your warm-up tips and let me know if you have any questions. And if you want more yoga, you can find tonnes of 15-minute vids on my new website, as well as articles and pose tutorials: www.yogaformountainbikers.com