Foam Rolling, Stretching, and Complexes

One of the most important things I have learned over the years is the importance of a proper warm-up. In a lot of ways, the warm-up is more important and beneficial to long-term health than the actual work-out I perform. My warm-ups focus not just on “warming up”, but also on mobility, soft tissue work, stretching, and more.

I spend most of the day sitting at a desk, working on a computer. As has been expounded on ad infinitum, this is less than idea for posture, mobility, etc. Our ancestors moved around, lifted things, walked places, ran after things, and depended on their bodies in ways we never will. My completely non-scientific guess would be that the average office worker today spends 9 hours at a desk, followed by 4 hours on the couch or in front of a computer at home, followed by 7 hours in bed. That amounts to nearly 85% of a day spent completely immobile. Combine that with atrocious eating habits and it’s no wonder obesity rates continue to grow.

In an effort to counteract the realities of having a desk job, I perform roughly 30 minutes of stretching, mobility, and bodyweight exercises before every workout. In reality, these are probably things I should do every day.

Bodyweight circuit (repeat three times with little-to-no rest between sets):

  • 12-15 prisoner squats
  • 6-8 single-leg Romanian deadlifts (per leg)
  • 10 slow push-ups with a plus (serratus activation)
  • 8-10 pull-ups (or chin-ups)

Stretching and mobility work includes:

  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Side-lying hip flexion/extension
  • Hip Rockers
  • Hamstring stretches with a band
  • Shoulder mobility work (reach and lift, scapular wall slides, etc)
  • Kneeling thoracic rotation
  • Foam rolling (one of my favorite pieces of equipment)

By the time I’ve gone through this, I’ve touched on a number of issues (hip and shoulders) and I’ll also have worked up a sweat. I’ve really enjoyed the bodyweight circuit, which I added to my warm-ups a few months ago. In those three sets I’m able to do more and move more than most people do the entire day. It also aligns with the idea that “if something is worth doing, do it every day.” I’ve really refocused my lifts to the most basic and primary movements, and while I can’t do max effort compound movements every day, I can do bodyweight variations of them as a warm-up.

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