A proper warm-up is essential to making the most of your training session and staying injury-free.
I have a comprehensive warm-up system that is spelled out in my book10/20/Life that is customized to your needs and will not take a huge chunk of your limited time. The warm-up is based on three exercises designed by Dr. Stuart McGill, an expert in spine biome-chanics.
I met Dr. McGill in 2013 when I went to several specialists who said my career as a strength athlete was finished. I was familiar with McGill’s work, as he has some of the best books on spinal health and fitness. I always seek out the best in any given field, and that’s what I did. With his help, I went from being unable to move without pain to winning the 2015 Arnold Classic and hitting personal records with a 1,065 squat, 765 bench, and 780 deadlift for a 2,610 total.
This warm-up has been respon-sible for making me pain-free and mobile in the places I want to be (ball and socket joints) and stiff in the places I need to be when I’m lifting, like my obliques, erectors, glutes, and abs. This is extremely important for the power athlete. Do these every day, especially if you’re experiencing back pain or weak-ness. You can use them for both warming up and recovery. You can even do them as a mini workout at home. I just wish I’d started doing them years ago.
The McGill Big 3
Bird Dogs: Get into a hand-and-knees position on the floor. Think about moving the earth away from your body while keeping your spine in a neutral position and pushing your heels back as hard as you can. Extend your right arm and left leg so they are parallel to the ground, and contract as hard as you can. Do this for the required number of sets, then switch sides. Perform 4 to 5 sets of 7- to 10-second holds.
McGill Crunch: Lie on your back with your hands under your hips, with one leg bent and the other straight. Raise your head slightly to engage your abs. Tuck your chin a bit and focus on core tightness. Hold for 10 seconds each time for the required number of sets. Perform 4 to 5 sets of 10-second holds, switching legs each time.
Rolling Plank: Start in a neutral plank position with your weight on your forearms and toes. Roll to one side and plank for two to three seconds. Slowly roll to the other side and plank. One complete side-to-side move counts as one rep. You can change up the pace and roll side to side more quickly with a shorter duration side plank, and then inter-mittently go slower and hold a longer plank. Make it your own, but the im-portant thing is making sure your hip is off the ground and fully bridged.Perform 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Brian Carroll is one of the most ac-complished powerlifters in the history of the sport. After suffering a debilitat-ing back injury in 2012—including several broken bones—Brian used the principles described in his book 10/20/Life to return to competition. He has created a community of strength and fitness experts known as Power Rack Strength. Brian most recently competed at the 2015 Arnold Classic where he won both his class and the overall title. For more info, check out powerrackstrength.com