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Supercharge Workout Performance In Minutes

01dragonslayer

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Get Shredded!

The Art and Science of Pre-Workout Primers​

Get primed and get pumped for any big lift and perform at your best with these quick and easy pre-workout primers.

If you have time to train, you have time to warm up. It only takes a few minutes to invest in pain-free training. And remember, the more experienced you are, the more wear and tear you’ve accumulated, so don’t skip the warm-up.

As a bonus, the right warm-up will supercharge your workout for better performance and faster gains. Here’s what a good warm-up can do:

1. Mobilize and Activate​

The tightness you feel in certain areas may be caused by inactive muscles nearby. If your lower back is feeling stiff, that’s often your brain protecting your body from moving through a range of motion it can’t yet control. This is likely due to underactive or immobile glutes, resulting in an overly tight back doing a job it shouldn’t have to.

While stretching might provide short-term relief, it doesn’t do much to increase mobility or range of motion over time unless you attack the root cause: instability and poor activation of other muscle groups.

Instead, gradually increase joint mobility 6 and improve range of motion. Improvements in mobility must be followed by “activation,” which tells your brain to turn off the brakes because your muscles can create the necessary stability for the job.

All of this is done by improving mobility in commonly sticky joints and activating dormant muscle fibers nearby. The result? Pain-free performance and improved range of motion.

2. Improve Blood Flow​

Anyone who’s taken gas station boner pills knows the benefits of increased blood flow. Okay, maybe that’s a bad example.

When you pump your muscles full of blood, you’re delivering oxygen and nutrients to the tissues for better growth and performance. You’ll also increase the amount of synovial fluid in the joint, helping that joint move faster and smoother. More synovial fluid increases the shock-absorbing ability of the joint and makes the surrounding muscles more pliable, decreasing the risk of tearing.

This is where a proper pre-workout primer comes in. When you’re engaging in specific movements prior to training, you pre-pump your muscles with resource-rich blood while supporting joint health.

Additionally, improved blood flow helps reduce inflammation and promote healing, which can be especially important if you’re dealing with nagging aches or pains.

3. Boost the Mind-Muscle Connection​

One good thing leads to another. The better your mind-muscle connection, and the better you’re able to activate muscle fibers during training, the more tissue damage you create, the stronger you get, and the more muscle you build. And what’s a great way to increase the mind-muscle connection? Priming your muscles 8 before training.

This is why it’s also important to avoid rushing through a warm-up. It’s not a passive set of arm swings, turning on your playlist, and jumping into heavy work sets. You need to focus, be present, and get your mind into your muscles to maximize your workouts.

You want to feel your muscles stretch and contract through the entire ROM. This helps you create that connection between the brain and muscle fibers to recruit more tissue during each rep.

Pre-Workout Primers​

Now let’s take a look at four pre-workout priming circuits to boost your performance, strength, and muscle gains. These should take you 3-5 minutes. Move through each exercise without rest. Own every inch of every position.

I recommend daily movement practice. So do these even on off days. However, I’ve split these into upper, lower, and total-body primers to fit seamlessly into your training. Do the ones most appropriate for the workout you’re about to do.

Upper Body Primers​

1. Band Dislocation​

Works: Arms, chest, shoulders, upper back

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a resistance band with your palms facing down and hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift your arms up and overhead, keeping them straight and in line with your shoulders.
  • Slowly and steadily, bring the band down and behind your back, keeping your arms straight.
  • As you lower the band, focus on keeping your shoulder blades pulled down and back. Avoid letting your shoulders shrug up towards your ears.
  • Once the band reaches your lower back, reverse the movement and bring the band back up and over your head to the starting position.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

2. Band Pull-Apart​

Works: Arms, chest, shoulders, upper back

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a resistance band with both hands, palms facing down.
  • Hold the band in front of your chest with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your arms straight, pull the band apart by moving your hands out to the sides.
  • Focus on using your upper back and shoulder muscles to perform the movement.
  • Keep your shoulder blades pulled down and back throughout.
  • Once your arms are fully extended out to the sides, hold the position for a moment.
  • Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position, resisting the pull of the band.
  • Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

3. Squeeze Push-Up​

Muscles worked: Chest, triceps, shoulders, upper back, lats, core

  • Begin in a standard push-up position. Lower yourself under control until your chest is just above the floor.
  • As you come up, focus on pushing your hands down and together as hard as you can.
  • Squeeze your chest by thinking about pressing your biceps into your outer pecs. This creates an isometric contraction to improve your mind-muscle connection with your chest, more specifically, the sternal fibers of your pecs.
  • Pause briefly at the top and squeeze your pecs together before starting the next rep.
  • Do 3 sets of 6-8 reps.

Lower Body Primers​

1. Lateral Squat​

Works: Hamstrings, hips, quads, glutes, core

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and toes pointing forward.
  • Shift your weight to your left foot and take a big step to the right with your right foot.
  • Keep your left foot stationary and bend your right knee, pushing your hips back as you lower into a squat position.
  • Keep your chest lifted, back straight, and your weight on your heels.
  • Hold momentarily, then push through your right foot to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement on the opposite side, stepping out with your left foot and bending your left knee to squat down.
  • Do 3 reps of 5 reps per side.

2. Toe-Grab Squat​

Works: Hamstrings, quads, ankles, hips, glutes, core

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward.
  • In an upright position, reach down and grab your toes.
  • Pull up on your toes, exhale, and drop your hips into a deep squat.
  • Pull your chest tall at the bottom.
  • Stand back up while still holding onto your toes and straighten your legs while looking at your shoelaces.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

3. Transverse Lunge​

Works: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors/abductors

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides.
  • Take a large step to the right with your right foot, then pivot your left foot so your toes point to the right as well.
  • Lower your body by bending your right knee and keeping your left leg straight. Your weight should be on your right foot.
  • Keep your chest up, your core engaged, and your back straight.
  • Push through your right foot to return to the starting position.
  • Switch sides and repeat.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps per side.

4. Split-Squat Iso-Hold​

Works: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors/abductors

  • Start in a lunge position with one foot in front of the other. Make sure your front foot is far enough ahead so that your knee doesn’t go past your toes when you lower your body.
  • Lower your back knee to the ground, keeping your weight on your front foot.
  • Your front knee should be at a 90-degree angle.
  • Pause for 2-3 seconds.
  • Push through your front foot to raise your body back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat, then switch legs.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps per side.

5. Bodyweight Squat and Pause​

Works: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors/abductors

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Drop into the bottom position of a squat.
  • With your chest up and spine neutral, hold the bottom position for 15-30 seconds before standing back up.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Total Body Primers​

1. Inchworm​

Works: Hamstrings, glutes, core, chest, back, shoulders, arms

  • Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides.
  • Bend forward at the waist and place your hands on the ground in front of you.
  • Walk your hands forward until you’re in a plank position with your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  • Walk your feet forward, bringing them as close to your hands as possible while keeping your legs straight. That completes one “rep.”
  • Do 3 rounds of 5 reps.

2. Sumo Squat with Rotation​

Works: Thoracic mobility, traps, lats, rhomboids, obliques, glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors/abductors

  • Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Lower into a squat position by bending your knees and pushing your hips back.
  • As you squat down, reach your right arm inside your right leg and grab onto the big toe of your right foot. Keep your left arm extended overhead for balance.
  • Hold this position for a moment, feeling the stretch in your hamstring and calf.
  • Release your toe and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement on the opposite side, grabbing your left toe with your left hand.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps per side.

3. Yoga Push-Up​

Works: Thoracic mobility, traps, lats, rhomboids, chest, triceps, shoulders, lower back, hamstrings

  • Begin in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Lower your body down to the floor by bending your elbows, keeping them close to your sides.
  • At the same time, shift your weight forward onto your toes and engage your core to maintain a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • Stop when your upper arms are parallel to the ground, hovering just above the floor.
  • Hold this position for a moment, then push back up to the starting position.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

4. Elbow Tap​

Works: Thoracic mobility, traps, lats, rhomboids, chest, triceps, shoulders, core

  • Start in a full plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.
  • While keeping your shoulders, torso, and hips square, take your left hand and slowly tap your right elbow.
  • Lower your hand back to the ground.
  • Repeat, then switch sides.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps per side.
 

The Art and Science of Pre-Workout Primers​



If you have time to train, you have time to warm up. It only takes a few minutes to invest in pain-free training. And remember, the more experienced you are, the more wear and tear you’ve accumulated, so don’t skip the warm-up.

As a bonus, the right warm-up will supercharge your workout for better performance and faster gains. Here’s what a good warm-up can do:

1. Mobilize and Activate​

The tightness you feel in certain areas may be caused by inactive muscles nearby. If your lower back is feeling stiff, that’s often your brain protecting your body from moving through a range of motion it can’t yet control. This is likely due to underactive or immobile glutes, resulting in an overly tight back doing a job it shouldn’t have to.

While stretching might provide short-term relief, it doesn’t do much to increase mobility or range of motion over time unless you attack the root cause: instability and poor activation of other muscle groups.

Instead, gradually increase joint mobility 6 and improve range of motion. Improvements in mobility must be followed by “activation,” which tells your brain to turn off the brakes because your muscles can create the necessary stability for the job.

All of this is done by improving mobility in commonly sticky joints and activating dormant muscle fibers nearby. The result? Pain-free performance and improved range of motion.

2. Improve Blood Flow​

Anyone who’s taken gas station boner pills knows the benefits of increased blood flow. Okay, maybe that’s a bad example.

When you pump your muscles full of blood, you’re delivering oxygen and nutrients to the tissues for better growth and performance. You’ll also increase the amount of synovial fluid in the joint, helping that joint move faster and smoother. More synovial fluid increases the shock-absorbing ability of the joint and makes the surrounding muscles more pliable, decreasing the risk of tearing.

This is where a proper pre-workout primer comes in. When you’re engaging in specific movements prior to training, you pre-pump your muscles with resource-rich blood while supporting joint health.

Additionally, improved blood flow helps reduce inflammation and promote healing, which can be especially important if you’re dealing with nagging aches or pains.

3. Boost the Mind-Muscle Connection​

One good thing leads to another. The better your mind-muscle connection, and the better you’re able to activate muscle fibers during training, the more tissue damage you create, the stronger you get, and the more muscle you build. And what’s a great way to increase the mind-muscle connection? Priming your muscles 8 before training.

This is why it’s also important to avoid rushing through a warm-up. It’s not a passive set of arm swings, turning on your playlist, and jumping into heavy work sets. You need to focus, be present, and get your mind into your muscles to maximize your workouts.

You want to feel your muscles stretch and contract through the entire ROM. This helps you create that connection between the brain and muscle fibers to recruit more tissue during each rep.

Pre-Workout Primers​

Now let’s take a look at four pre-workout priming circuits to boost your performance, strength, and muscle gains. These should take you 3-5 minutes. Move through each exercise without rest. Own every inch of every position.

I recommend daily movement practice. So do these even on off days. However, I’ve split these into upper, lower, and total-body primers to fit seamlessly into your training. Do the ones most appropriate for the workout you’re about to do.

Upper Body Primers​

1. Band Dislocation​

Works: Arms, chest, shoulders, upper back

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a resistance band with your palms facing down and hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift your arms up and overhead, keeping them straight and in line with your shoulders.
  • Slowly and steadily, bring the band down and behind your back, keeping your arms straight.
  • As you lower the band, focus on keeping your shoulder blades pulled down and back. Avoid letting your shoulders shrug up towards your ears.
  • Once the band reaches your lower back, reverse the movement and bring the band back up and over your head to the starting position.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

2. Band Pull-Apart​

Works: Arms, chest, shoulders, upper back

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a resistance band with both hands, palms facing down.
  • Hold the band in front of your chest with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your arms straight, pull the band apart by moving your hands out to the sides.
  • Focus on using your upper back and shoulder muscles to perform the movement.
  • Keep your shoulder blades pulled down and back throughout.
  • Once your arms are fully extended out to the sides, hold the position for a moment.
  • Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position, resisting the pull of the band.
  • Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

3. Squeeze Push-Up​

Muscles worked: Chest, triceps, shoulders, upper back, lats, core

  • Begin in a standard push-up position. Lower yourself under control until your chest is just above the floor.
  • As you come up, focus on pushing your hands down and together as hard as you can.
  • Squeeze your chest by thinking about pressing your biceps into your outer pecs. This creates an isometric contraction to improve your mind-muscle connection with your chest, more specifically, the sternal fibers of your pecs.
  • Pause briefly at the top and squeeze your pecs together before starting the next rep.
  • Do 3 sets of 6-8 reps.

Lower Body Primers​

1. Lateral Squat​

Works: Hamstrings, hips, quads, glutes, core

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and toes pointing forward.
  • Shift your weight to your left foot and take a big step to the right with your right foot.
  • Keep your left foot stationary and bend your right knee, pushing your hips back as you lower into a squat position.
  • Keep your chest lifted, back straight, and your weight on your heels.
  • Hold momentarily, then push through your right foot to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement on the opposite side, stepping out with your left foot and bending your left knee to squat down.
  • Do 3 reps of 5 reps per side.

2. Toe-Grab Squat​

Works: Hamstrings, quads, ankles, hips, glutes, core

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward.
  • In an upright position, reach down and grab your toes.
  • Pull up on your toes, exhale, and drop your hips into a deep squat.
  • Pull your chest tall at the bottom.
  • Stand back up while still holding onto your toes and straighten your legs while looking at your shoelaces.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

3. Transverse Lunge​

Works: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors/abductors

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides.
  • Take a large step to the right with your right foot, then pivot your left foot so your toes point to the right as well.
  • Lower your body by bending your right knee and keeping your left leg straight. Your weight should be on your right foot.
  • Keep your chest up, your core engaged, and your back straight.
  • Push through your right foot to return to the starting position.
  • Switch sides and repeat.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps per side.

4. Split-Squat Iso-Hold​

Works: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors/abductors

  • Start in a lunge position with one foot in front of the other. Make sure your front foot is far enough ahead so that your knee doesn’t go past your toes when you lower your body.
  • Lower your back knee to the ground, keeping your weight on your front foot.
  • Your front knee should be at a 90-degree angle.
  • Pause for 2-3 seconds.
  • Push through your front foot to raise your body back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat, then switch legs.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps per side.

5. Bodyweight Squat and Pause​

Works: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors/abductors

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Drop into the bottom position of a squat.
  • With your chest up and spine neutral, hold the bottom position for 15-30 seconds before standing back up.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Total Body Primers​

1. Inchworm​

Works: Hamstrings, glutes, core, chest, back, shoulders, arms

  • Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides.
  • Bend forward at the waist and place your hands on the ground in front of you.
  • Walk your hands forward until you’re in a plank position with your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  • Walk your feet forward, bringing them as close to your hands as possible while keeping your legs straight. That completes one “rep.”
  • Do 3 rounds of 5 reps.

2. Sumo Squat with Rotation​

Works: Thoracic mobility, traps, lats, rhomboids, obliques, glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors/abductors

  • Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Lower into a squat position by bending your knees and pushing your hips back.
  • As you squat down, reach your right arm inside your right leg and grab onto the big toe of your right foot. Keep your left arm extended overhead for balance.
  • Hold this position for a moment, feeling the stretch in your hamstring and calf.
  • Release your toe and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement on the opposite side, grabbing your left toe with your left hand.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps per side.

3. Yoga Push-Up​

Works: Thoracic mobility, traps, lats, rhomboids, chest, triceps, shoulders, lower back, hamstrings

  • Begin in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Lower your body down to the floor by bending your elbows, keeping them close to your sides.
  • At the same time, shift your weight forward onto your toes and engage your core to maintain a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • Stop when your upper arms are parallel to the ground, hovering just above the floor.
  • Hold this position for a moment, then push back up to the starting position.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

4. Elbow Tap​

Works: Thoracic mobility, traps, lats, rhomboids, chest, triceps, shoulders, core

  • Start in a full plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.
  • While keeping your shoulders, torso, and hips square, take your left hand and slowly tap your right elbow.
  • Lower your hand back to the ground.
  • Repeat, then switch sides.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps per side.
Pre-workout primers are quick and effective warm-up exercises that mobilize muscles, improve blood flow, and enhance the mind-muscle connection for better performance and gains. Incorporate them into your routine for a pain-free and productive workout.

Libby
 
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