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Choosing Your Warm Up Weight

By Julie | In Kettlebell Training, Nutrition & Health, The Kettlebell Club, Weight Loss | on January 10, 2017

We all have goals that we are working towards this year. The surest way to achieve our goals is to focus on the little details that we tend to ignore because we do not recognize their importance in helping us get to where we want to be. This applies to both how we exercise as well as how we choose to feed our body. Over the course of the year, I intend to focus on these little but significant details to increase the potential of all of us achieving our goals.

The first exercise detail I would like to address is the starting weight that is used for the warm up set. You may recall hearing me say in class that it is best to use a lighter weight for the warm up. The most common response I receive is, “But it feels too light.”

Purpose of the Warm Up Set

The purpose of the warm up is to:

  • • Loosen up stiff muscles
  • • Gradually increase your heart rate, and most importantly,
  • • Remind yourself what the proper form feels like and what it feels like to fully engage your pelvic floor.

If you always do this reminder check with your form at the beginning of every class, throughout the duration of the class you will be aware of when you have your core fully engaged so you know you can potentially go heavier, and when you can no longer feel it engaged which is your que to go lighter or rest.

If you have a tendency towards injuries, using a lighter weight to warm up with is one way you can reduce your risk of injury.

Guidelines for Choosing Your Warm-up Kettlebell

  • • You should be able to use one kettlebell for the entire warm up – continuously switching back and forth between a heavier and a lighter kettlebell disrupts the flow of gradually increasing your heart rate.
  • • Around the Head and Double Tricep Extensions are usually the exercises that most people drop lighter on, so whatever weight you use to do those exercises is the weight you should use to do the entire warm up.

When You are Swinging with a Lighter Weight/b>

Remember: Don’t try to push your hips forward as hard as you can. You don’t need to do this because it is a light weight.

Instead, think about the following:

  • • Can I feel my pelvic floor tighten and stay tightened as I swing forward and back down again? (Think Kegels.)
  • • Can I feel the length in the back of my neck at all times? If not, tuck your chin in slightly towards your throat.
  • • Is my chest lifted?
  • • When I lift my chest do I feel taller? Can I feel length through the sides of my body? Does my chest feel more open? Can I feel my shoulder blades coming together in the centre of my back as I stand straighter?
  • • Are my feet straight?
  • • Am I pushing equally into all four corners of both feet?
  • • Am I breathing from my belly?
  • • Am I inhaling on the way up and exhaling on the way down?
  • • Is my tongue behind my two front teeth as I exhale so I can control my breath and keep my core more fully engaged on the exhale?

Using your heaviest kettlebell to warm up with, is like starting to sprint at the beginning of a marathon. You will be working really hard in the first few minutes, but you will not be able to sustain that intensity for the entire class and you will either have to drop lighter or pause longer between exercises. More importantly, if you have not done a reminder form check at the beginning of the class, you won’t necessarily feel when your abdominal muscles fatigue and the other muscles start doing more work to help out. If you do not notice when your abdominals fatigue, you may not realize when it is best for you to drop to a lighter weight, which can set you up for injury.

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