As the founder of a popular movement website I feel it’s my duty to tell you that I want you to limit the amount of exercise prep that you perform. Yes, I said limit your exercise prep, not do more. In recent years I’ve seen a trend for mobility, movement priming, and other means of exercise preparation. While this trend is very positive over the just ‘grind through the pain’ mentality of the past, there is such a thing as ‘too much’. Just like anything else, people seem to jump right to the “if a little bit is great, then more must be better” approach.
If you are doing 45min of prep work and 30min of training, then you’re doing something wrong! In fact your preparation work should not exceed 10min. Keep it to 9min or less of preparation work prior to training! We call this the #SMEP approach or Single Minute Exercise Prep.
So why isn’t more better? Simply put, it just isn’t adding value and is actually taking away from the time you could be spending training. Training provides a stress response and thus adaptation, which in turn, increases your strength, endurance and movement patterns (read as DEM GAINS!). The cumulative effect over time yields improvement in performance, AKA the reason we are in the gym or on the athletic field to begin with. And if you are training well, the movements done in training will not have the negative effect on the body, or even be the actual “prep work” in your warm-up. So where do we start?
Evaluate your training and movement
If you need to do tons of prep or recovery work in excess of 9min just to be able to train…. You might want to look at your training or your quality of movement. And that is a WHOLE different article, with its own set of problems. But let’s continue with how you can correct some of those issues in your warmup.
Once you have identified and fixed the movement and technique used in your training you should see far fewer issues developing. In fact, if you’re moving well, your warm-ups become your prep work. Let’s sit and think on that concept for a moment. The concept behind a warm up is to prepare you for your workout, and there is overlap here with the concept of movement prep. Your warmup should include movements you’ll be doing in your session, though to a lesser degree. A large gap that I’ve seen in both warm-ups and with prep work is in regards to both intentionality of the movement and doing it with purpose. A lot of fluff could be cut out if people applied Intent and Purpose to a few good movements, streamlining the process and leaving more time for the fun stuff.
Apply intentionality and purpose
There is a reason you are doing the work you are doing so don’t just go through the motions, focus on the key attributes and not just those heavy work sets. Do the same with your warm-ups. You practice perfection in your heavy sets, so why wouldn’t you also do the same with your warm up and cuing the patterns you are working on? Apply intent and purpose with a passion to a few key things and you will be far better off. In fact, a lot of injures I’ve seen in my time as a coach have been propagated from people doing sloppy warm-ups and not focusing on cueing properly because the weight was light. Bring the intention that you give to your heavy lifts into your warm up and you’ll see the difference.
The desire to try something new is the bane of many peoples training programs just as it is in their movement prep or rehab work. You read an article, see a video, or let's say absorb some new awesome content on kabuki.ms or mwod.com. Not everything can be additive. It may be awesome and it may something you should incorporate, but there must be something sacrificed or replaced to do so. No one wants to warm up for an hour. It gets too tedious.
Prioritize what’s important
Lets say you have 50 things wrong that need corrected. Trying to focus on 50 at once simply doesn’t work and you will not move forward. Pick the top priorities and address those. Once those are no longer priorities move to the next. You might find that correcting a major movement will, in turn correct some of the other problems you have identified. I would rather make progress on 3 issues than work on 50 and make no progress on any.
Limiting what you are going to actually address is a powerful tool and makes you focus, which in turn will drive results in your key areas.
Like I said, you may see awesome content produced by us or others, but is it right for you and is it a priority? Here is what Kelly Starrett and Chris Duffin have to say about this.
Our parameters for implementing our system are as follows.
- Training prep
- 9min or less
- 2-3 movements max
- Off Day
- 18min or less
- 3-4 movements max
What is listed above is the maximal amount of work we recommend. We often assign far less than this in practice and work on reducing both. The off-day work shown above is FAR above what we typically employ.
Proper assessment is needed
You must be able to use some self-assessment strategies or seek a qualified professional if your are unable to, before developing an effective plan. If we want to be prioritized and focused in our efforts then we must actually know and understand what the issue is. A proper assessment is necessary for you to understand what the underlying issues are so you can develop an appropriate plan. This does not always mean you need to seek an outside resource.
I know we have loaded a lot of videos on Kabuki.MS on assessment strategies. And many of the people I work with do the same thing such as MWOD, Acumobility, and FixYourOwnBack. But if you keep encountering the same faulty patterns no matter what issue you are addressing, it might be in your best training interest seek some outside help. You can check our website for KMS certified folks. Another great resources is www.Rehab2Performance.com which will have a good list of clinicians and trainers. I also recommend people certified in DNS, FMS, SFMA, and PRI if you have any of those in your area.
First you need to fix faulty movement patterns or poor programming that are continually pushing you into injury. From there you need to actually figure out what your deficiencies are before you begin developing a plan. In developing the plan you must decide what is important and apply limits to the amount of preparatory work that is done. Then execute that plan with intent and purposefulness.