Why Static Stretching Is The Worst Possible Way To Get Warm

Yesterday I introduced you bros to the world of foam rolling, and explained why it was such a kick ass way to warm up before lifting. A brief summary:

  • Foam rolling is painful.
  • Foam rolling smashes muscles (good).
  • Foam rolling increases blood flow.
  • Foam rolling increases range of motion.

In case you didn’t want to peruse through about 800 words or so of me bloviating about foam rollers and some solid penis innuendos, there you go.

Now, for most people when it comes to warming up foam rolling isn’t exactly what comes to mind. What we first think of is more traditional stretching, or static stretching.

Static stretching is basically hanging out at the end of your range of motion for anywhere from 10-30 seconds as a way to get warm and prepare your body for whatever hell you’re about to put it through.

One of the most common forms of static stretching is the “touch your toes” thing, which I’ve always hated because I’ve always sucked at that. I’ve always taken that to mean I’m really tight, and I need to be stretching more.

In reality, that could’ve been the worst decision I could make.

Static stretching is a downright awful way to improve performance, or to get warm.

Static stretching is basically forcing your muscles to cool off, before you go and get them warm through things like exercise. Sounds backwards, eh?

Why is that though?

When you’re putting a specific muscle, or muscle group, towards the end of its range of motion it doesn’t respond by increasing the blood flow to that area or warming it up at all. It usually takes hitting that end range as a sign, and therefore cools the area down to prevent further pushing up to that point and possibly risking injury.

This is the exact opposite of what foam rolling does, which is why foam rolling is so superior to static stretching when it comes to warming up before any sort of lifting or athletic activity.

So what should your warm up look like?

I’m a big fan of mobility drills, and spend about 5 minutes doing these before every single lifting session. They’re a great way to get my heart rate up, get to feeling “loose”, and they function as a dynamic warm up.

A dynamic warm up is basically leading your body through a series of movements safely through a given range of motion. A few rounds of high knees, karaoke, butt kicks, and skipping could be considered a great dynamic warm up before any sort of activity that involves running.

These not only prime the body for whatever you’re about to put it through, they increase blood flow, and warm the muscles, which allows them to move safely through a range of motion without worry of getting hurt. Again, the opposite of what static stretching does.

This is why I like doing mobility drills before working out. They mimic some of the moves that I’ll likely be doing in the weight room, they increase blood flow, and function to get me warm.

The greatest warm up routine known to mankind.

  • Foam rolling for 5-10 minutes*

*If you’re especially tight, or new to foam rolling I highly recommend you spend extra time rolling. It could be at night before bed, in the morning, or if you’ve got the time before lifting. An experienced roller won’t need more than 5 minutes, though.

After that I’m ready to go kick some serious ass, set pr’s, and not get hurt. All because I’ve warmed up properly and haven’t fucked around with unnecessary shit like static stretching. Don’t waste your time, bros. Static stretching has no purpose before your time in the weight room.

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