It’s so tempting to forego your warm-up before your workout, and it’s usually the first to go when you’re time-crunched or feeling low energy. However, don’t give a cold shoulder to a warm-up -- it gradually increases your heart rate and quickens blood flow to your muscles. What you get: optimal performance while decreasing your chances of injury.
Injuries, in fact, are the biggest consequence when neglecting to warm up. Bypass this preamble and you’re increasing your chances of a pulled or torn muscle, especially before intense exercise and hard play like a Tough Mudder.
Founder and training director of quite possibly one of the toughest workouts in NYC, Tone House, Alonzo Wilson (aka Zo) tells us that his warm-up is not like the others, and for good reason. Most warm-ups are stationary, but Tone House incorporates movement analysis that will take you through different ranges of motion (sagittal, front, transverse, with all of them changing levels). The result: your heart rate is up, your body is protected against injury, and you’re ready for the workout and Mudder event that is planned for that day.
Here are the six warm-up movies Zo recommends, using his theory on movement:
Strides: These are simply short sprints. Run for only 20 seconds at the pace you plan for your race. Then stop, walk for 20 seconds, turn around, and run the other way at your race pace for 20 seconds. Do this about 4-6 times. Strides are accelerations that get your heart rate going and your legs acclimated for the race or workout.
High Knees: This will improve your running form, power and flexibility. It will also get your heart rate going. You can do this either running in place or accelerating over a short distance. Your arm movement is the same as if you are running (as your right knee comes up, so does your left elbow, and then reverse). Bring your knee to your chest and then quickly place it back on the ground. You can also put your hands flat out in front of you and allow your knees to hit your hands as you run. Make sure you stay on the balls of your feet the whole time (being flat-footed is bad for your knees). Lift your ankle up and over your knee (that’s why these are called “high knees”). Start this warm-up slowly, so not to pull a muscle. Do this for one minute or run 30 feet.
Butt Kicks: Great for the quads, hamstrings, and, of course, the butt. It looks like it sounds: kick your butt., literally. Lift your foot and touch your butt cheek. Then alternate. Short steps, and do them quickly. Move your arms the same way you would if you were running or walking. You can also clasp your hands behind your back. Make sure your chest is out. Do 2-3 reps of about 10-20 meters each.
Carioca: This is a cross-stepping warm-up that will help with your lateral movement and agility. It’s meant for your abs, glutes, ankles and hips. Carioca increases your range of movement as well as your blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues, and helps reduce the chance of injury. You’re going to move your feet across each other while remaining in a stable position. Run sideways with your legs crossing each other (leg in front, and then leg in back). Twist your hips as you cross your legs. For balance, hold your arms straight out from your shoulders, all the while keeping your shoulders straight. Then reverse direction. Stay on the balls of your feet for the entire duration.
Inchworm: Yep, it looks exactly the way you picture it. Begin in a push-up position. Slowly walk your legs to your hands, moving your butt toward the ceiling (or the sky, if you’re outside). Try to keep your heels on the ground (easier said than done, but it helps your hamstrings). Then, slowly walk your legs back and return to the pushup position. Remember to pull in your belly button. Repeat this motion about 5-10 times. The inchworm is good for your calves, hamstrings and thighs, and above all, your core.
Walk Outs: This targets your hamstrings, upper body and core. Get on all fours, with your hands directly below your shoulders. Walk your hands forward, while tensing your glutes and your abs. Keep “walking” until your abs are just a few inches from the floor. Hold this pose for at least one second (this is where you gain strength). Then reverse, returning to your starting position. Work yourself up to 10 reps – it’s harder than it looks, but totally worth it.
In addition to injury prevention and increased blood flow, the Tone House warm-up’s ultimate objective, according to Zo: your body and mind keep working so that you don’t plateau. Count on it: no two warm-ups should ever be the same.
Want to keep your training going? Find a Tough Mudder Bootcamp near you.