Many people, perhaps especially men, go into the gym for a heavy workout and head straight to the weights. At best, they might take a few minutes on a treadmill before getting into their workout. However, research shows that this isn’t the best way to exercise. A proper warm up can improve the strength and power of your muscles among other benefits (Jeffreys, 2006).
The RAMP method is a three stage (though four letters) method for optimizing your warm up: (1) Raise your heart rate, blood flow, body temperature, etc. (2) Activate the muscles groups you’ll be exercising or that you want to focus on and Mobilize the joints and ranges of motion that will be employed for your workout, (3) Potentiate, referring to using activities more directly related to the sport or workout you’ll be doing (e.g. if I’m doing back squats, here I could start doing air squats or back squat with the bar and slowly add weight up to my working set.)
Using the RAMP method to warm up for leg day, we could start with 5-10 minutes on a treadmill, stairclimber, or using other cardio. Next, we can either mobilize or activate first. In this case, we might use a foam roller or dynamic stretches to mobilize the hip and knee joints. To mobilize the hips, you might try forward and side leg swings, half pigeon pose, or frog pose. Look for dynamic stretches that keep you actively moving through the range of motion rather than static stretches. To activate the leg muscles, especially the glutes, try clams, lateral walks or air squats all using a resistance band. If you have trouble feeling your calves, try one-legged calf raises using your bodyweight or light weights to activate the calf muscles before your workout. For the potentiate phase, move towards the specific exercises for your workout. Perform lunges or squats with just your bodyweight and slowly add weight to your working sets.
Jeffreys, I. (2006). Warm up revisited–the ‘ramp’method of optimising performance preparation. Uksca J, 6, 15-19.
Image: Sutherland, Ben. “Warm up.” 10 Oct 2009. Online image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC-BY2.0). Accessed 30 Jan 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bensutherland/4004584424