Squatting heavy can be one of the most taxing activities on the body. There are few other movements that can load and demand as much coordinated ability as a heavy squat. They are hard and they work! Preparing the body for such stress is very important for performance and longevity. Getting muscles hot, taking the joints through a range of motion, and activating muscles as well as the central nervous system can get you squatting well and fast.
Here is a 15 minute warm-up complex to get you to peak performance under the bar.
General Warm-Up Part 1: (Heating up the muscles)
Before you even start squatting, it is important to get the muscles and tendons hot and malleable. You can do this by elevating the heart rate will any general movement.
- Start on a bike for 3 minutes. Slowly ramp up the speed so that your heart rate is getting high by the time you finish. You want to pump some blood in your legs and heat up the tissues. You could also do 3 minutes of jumping jacks, or a 500 meter row.
General Warm-Up Part 2: (Take the joints through a range of motion)
Taking the joints through a range of motion prepares the muscles for the movement demands of stretching and shortening. Here the focus is on the hips and hamstrings. Try to stretch beyond the range of motion required in a squat.
- Lie on the ground with a resistance band around your foot. Stretch and relax the hamstrings by pulling your leg up. Use the band to assist you with some extra range of motion at the top. Perform 15 each leg: 1 second up, 1 second at the top, 1 second down.
- Open up the hips by performing 20 mountain climbers with the feet reaching outside the hands. Do 5 at a time fast, then take a second to push the hips towards the floor.
- Perform 20 jumping squats developing a full range of the squat as well as getting the muscle to work with elasticity.
Specific Warm-up Part 1: (Muscle activation)
There are specific muscles you want to stimulate to get the correct pattern of movement happening. Here we focus on the core and hips that will initiate the squat.
- Lie on the ground face up and perform 20 hip bridges. With your feet flat on the floor drive your hips up into a bridge and squeeze your glutes for one second at the top. This will activate your back side and the erectors of the lower back.
- Perform 20 slow air squats with a light band around the knees. Concentrate on driving the knees out against the band to activate the muscle around the hips and the hamstrings. Focus on strong technique.
Specific Warm-Up Part 2: (Central Nervous System Activation)
Getting the central nervous system ramped up and firing hard allows for peak performance. This maximizes the ability for the brain to communicate with the body. The greater the weight, and the faster the movement, the higher the demand on the CNS. Ramp up in a few sets and allow enough time once you get to your working sets (2-3 minutes) for the central nervous system to recover.
- Begin with an empty barbell and perform 3 squats. Go down slow and tight, drive up fast.
- Take 5 sets to work up to a starting weight. Only perform 3-5 reps. Make big jumps in weight (50-90lbs) each set. Remember to brace your belly tight and drive up fast, moving the bar with speed.