Did you know there is an easy way to get more benefit from the workouts you’re already doing? Not only that but making this small addition to your workouts can also reduce your risk of injury. What is this magical trick, you ask?
It’s no trick at all. All you need to do is move through a few activation exercises before your workout to boost benefits and keep you injury-free.
What are activation exercises?
If you haven’t heard the term before, don’t worry. You’re not alone! But these aren’t newly crafted, high-tech exercises. In fact, many of them are movements you’ve likely done before.
Activation exercises are short exercises that isolate specific muscles, causing them to activate prior to a workout. Much like stretching, these exercises increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare them for your cardio, weightlifting, or workout session.
The beauty of activation exercises is that they require little (if any) equipment and can be easily incorporated into your workout routine.
Why should I incorporate activation exercises into my routine?
They strengthen the mind/body connection.
Most activation exercises require little if any equipment. In most cases, your body weight does the work for you, allowing you to focus with your mind on what your muscles are experiencing when you perform the exercise and preparing your muscles for the workout you’re about to engage in. Developing a strong connection between your mind and body is a gift you’ll use in every part of your daily life, not just during workouts.
They reduce your risk of injury.
Activation exercises help both large and small muscle groups prepare for the upcoming workout and having both groups warmed up means you’re less likely to experience injury. Additionally, warm muscles allow for a greater range of motion during your workout which, in turn, means you’re less likely to hurt yourself.
They improve your workout performance.
Activation exercises ensure your muscles are fully prepped and ready for your workout or sports activity. And warm muscles are sure to improve your performance and make your workout more effective.
What activation exercises should I do before my workout?
The right exercises for you will depend on the type of workout you’re preparing for. If it’s chest day at the gym, start with push-ups (either traditional or modified) to activate the muscles in the chest, shoulders, and arms. Shoot for 3 sets of 5 – 10 push-ups.
If it’s leg day, or if you’re heading out for a long run, try warming up your quads with 3 sets of 10 walking lunges.
Other activation exercises include:
Squats for your glutes (3 sets of 10)
Superman holds for your back (5-second hold x 3)
Planks for your abs (hold a 15-second front and side plank on each side)
Activation exercises are a valuable weapon to have in your workout arsenal. By ensuring your mind and body are connected and that your muscles are properly activated, you’ll notice improved muscle development while keeping your body injury-free.