Last week I started with a new client who, in addition to being a gym rat, just so happened to be a multisport athlete. As I was explaining the results of her movement assessment, I started to describe to her how her sessions would flow. I explained that the first 5 minutes would be spent foam rolling. “If you get to the studio early, go for a little longer”, I told her. “Next we might hit a few static stretches for our lats, pecs and hip flexors, but we’ll usually move to more of a dynamic stretch; walking knee grabs, leg cradles, butt kicks, toy soldiers, knee drives for ankle mobility, things like that”. I then said, “We’ll follow that up with activation exercises for both upper and lower body.” “Last we’ll do some bodyweight moves; lunges, squats, push-ups, etc.” “Then,” I said, “We’ll get to the resistance training portion of our workout.”
She looked at me and said, “Wait a minute, we’ve pretty much done a workout by the time I’ve done that much.” “I’m only actually ‘working out’ for 30-40 minutes by the time we’re done with all that”. “That’s right,” I said. I’m pretty she’ll thank me for it later.
Some people might look at my method and say that I’m wasting my client’s time. To that I say, “It depends.” If they can get to the studio early, know their routine, and can knock-it-out before their session, then yes, we can spend more time putting in work during the session. However, if a client shows-up to a session ice cold from a day of sitting behind a desk, the last thing that I’m going to do is let them grab a kettlebell as soon as they walk in the door.
Think about it this way; consider that your body was a finely tuned race car. Prior to running the car in a race, you would expect that the pit crew would check under the hood to make sure that all of the bolts and belts were tight. Then the driver would take the car for a couple of laps around the track before coming back to the pit to confirm that all systems were a go.
My client is that race car and all we’re doing is making sure that all systems are good to go before we put them out there to race. Luckily, I didn’t come up with all of this myself. This is the norm now-a-days in the strength and conditioning world with gyms like MBSC (Mike Boyle – Mass.), Train 4 The Game (Todd Wright –Austin Texas) and Results Fitness (Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove – Calif.) leading the way in showing people how to workout, before the workout. They’ve shown that doing so not only helps reduce the risk of injury, but it also may lead to quicker results as they are able to perform better during their sessions.
So the next time you hit the gym and head straight for the squat rack, I want you to stop and ask yourself, “Are all of my systems good to go.” If not, take the time to really get fired-up before you put your body out on that race track.