man warming up

RAMP: The Basics of Warming Up

For a great warm up, here’s what you need to do…

Raise, Activate, Mobilise and Potentiate (RAMP)

Raise

Raise your heart rate and core temperature. In other words get moving around, get the blood pumping and get a bit sweaty.

The raise part of the warm up is easy: 2-5 minutes of general movements such as rowing, jogging, skipping, jumping jacks, high knees, heel flicks and dancing.

Activate

Now you’ve got to activate the muscles you’re going to be using in the session. Movements like bodyweight squats, reverse lunges, inverted rows and press-ups will activate your major muscle groups.

Generally, regardless of the content of the session, I believe in warming the whole body up. Sure, if it’s an upper body session you can focus a little more on the upper body, but, the body works as a unit, so it’s best to get the whole unit activated.

Mobilise

Get your hips shoulders, knees, ankles, elbows and wrists moving through full ranges of motion. Many of the movements that activate your muscles will also mobilise your joints, but it’s also good to work on specific positions and/or joints that are either restricted or are going to be used a lot in your session.

This could mean doing some ankle mobility exercises, loosening the hips off with spiders or getting the shoulders moving with broomstick pass throughs.

Potentiate

This is about getting the central nervous system switched on with more forceful or explosive movements, and also for tuning in to any skills you’ll need in your session. Potentiating is saved for the end of the warm up and can be anything from plyometric/ballistic exercises such as pogo hops or squat jumps to sprinting technique drills such as A-Skips or straight leg bounds to med ball throws to performing any exercise with a gradual increase in intensity towards maximum effort.

Potentiating is more important for sports performance sessions or sessions where you’re going to be performing strength based or explosive exercises — for general health and fitness aims, or for sessions that aren’t strength, power or speed based, although potentiating is still useful, it’s not a necessity.

Do I have to Stick to that Order?

Raising, activating and mobilising can all go hand in hand and don’t need to be in a regimented sequence. Some exercises will accomplish all three, for example, 20 overhead squats with a band or broomstick through a progressively larger range of motion will raise the heart rate, activate lots of muscles and mobilise several joints simultaneously.

Leave potentiating movements for the end of the warm up. You should already be well warmed before you start performing explosive or power based movements as these types of movements are more stressful on your joints and connective tissues.

Summary

Warming up is super important but is also super easy to do effectively: think RAMP before your next session.

Jon Reid can ramp up your training in a private personal training studio in central Edinburgh. Get in touch for exercise technique sessions and strength and conditioning coaching at jon.reid@panthera-performance.co.uk