Your central nervous system (CNS) is much like the main computer of your body. It’s responsible for sending electrical messages to each and every muscle that’s involved in a contraction, no matter how little or how intense that contraction may be. Therefore, it is imperative that we get it firing prior to our workout. For that, we need to get explosive!
As stated in my previous articles, we have mobilised, we have activated, and now we are ‘switching on’ our CNS via some short, sharp, explosive movements. I have picked the most basic ones to try, purely because the more complex we get, the more people are likely to NOT do them. These need to be done with purpose to get the most out of them. Don’t just go through the motions.
So let’s get fired up!
Firstly, we have the standard squat jump (below).
Taking your squat stance (about shoulder width), bend the knees and spring straight up into the air. Use your arms to increase power. These would be used before squats or deadlifts to fire up the hips. 3 sets of 5-10 reps should do it.
Important Tip: You absolutely must bend the knees on landing! Get the knees doing what they are designed to do. Absorb the impact and sink straight down into your next rep. NEVER LAND WITH STIFF KNEES.
Next, for something slightly more advanced, we have the box jump (below).
Standing approximately a foot away from the box, bend at the knees and spring upwards with a slight forward trajectory. Use your arms. Upon landing, absorb the impact softly, aiming to have the heels touch down first. These also would be suitable for before squats and deadlifting. 2 or 3 sets of 5-10 reps.
Important Tip: Think of drawing the knees to the chest or ‘sucking the feet up’ to ensure you clear the lip of the box.
The kettlebell swing (below), is a great primer for the hips before any form of deadlifting.
For this, bend at the knees and take hold of a kettlebell. Standing upright, feet shoulder width apart, initiate the swing with the hips. Aim to have the kettlebell stay above the knee joint when it swings back into you. Let the momentum of the kettlebell tilt you at the hips (hinge) and then snap the hips forward powerfully to change direction of the kettlebell. You only need to take the kettlebell to eye level or so to be effective. 2 sets of 10 reps.
Important Tip: Remain as upright as possible through the chest. Don’t allow yourself to bend at the lower back.
Next up we have the good ol ball slam! (below)
Standing over a challenging med ball, squat down keeping the chest up, grab the ball and stand explosively, press the ball straight up into the air above the head. Throw the ball down as hard as possible between the feet and aim to catch the ball on the bounce. This will force you to squat down faster in order to catch it in time. Remember, we want to be explosive at this point.
Important Tip: Try to limit excessive bending of the lower back. Use those knees!
Lastly, and something that is a bit more specific to the bench press, is the plyometric push up (below).
Performing these on the knees is fine, however, on the toes is also an option, albeit, slightly tougher. Take your push up position, hands slightly outside shoulder width, nice straight line through the body (shoulder, hip and knee are in line), come down to the floor until the chest is an inch above, then explode back off the floor so that your hands leave the ground. Theres no need to go miles into the air, just leave the ground by a couple of inches or so. 3 sets of 8-10 is plenty.
Important Tip: Use your elbows as you would your knees and absorb the impact on landing. NEVER LAND WITH STIFF ARMS!
This concludes my three part series on basic, progressive warm ups. Save these articles, refer back to them. Most of, if not, all people should be able to utilise some or all of them.
Remember, walking into the gym and striding out on a treadmill aimlessly for a couple of minutes prior to your workout is not going to be sufficient IF you’re serious about your training longevity and your results.