Memo to office drones: Spending nine hours hunched over a desk staring at a monitor is not the optimal warm-up for a session at the gym. You'll get a better workout and suffer fewer injuries if you take a few minutes to wake up the crucial muscles lying dormant since your morning coffee. "If you stretch and activate them first," Equinox training manager Vural Vural explains, "during your workout you'll use the musculature in the sequence that it's designed to be used rather than the compensatory mechanism, which leads you to lose power, lose performance, and open the door for injury." Vural warns that every body is different and has specific needs, but most desk-bound types can benefit from these two-part warm-ups.
Hip Flexor Stretch and Hip Extension/Glute Activation
Kneeling on the floor, step forward, placing one foot flat on the floor in front of you. Squeezing the glute of the kneeling leg, slowly lean forward in a straight line from shoulder to knee, stretching the front of the hip.
Lie on the floor with knees bent, feet on the floor near your butt, and lower back pressed into the floor. Then raise your hips by squeezing glutes. Hold for five seconds, release, and raise again. If your knees gravitate toward the center, you are adductor dominant. Add resistance by using a band you can push against to keep knees from collapsing. If your knees flare out, you are abductor dominant, so get a ball or yoga block to squeeze between your knees.
Transverse Plane Stretch and Transverse Plane Activation
Lie on the floor as you did for the hip extensions, but with your arms straight out to the sides. Keeping your feet and knees together, drop them to the left while keeping both shoulders flat on the floor. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side. This will give your torso a gentle twisting stretch.
While on all fours – knees below the hips, hands directly below the shoulders, feet flexed behind you – pick your knees an inch off the floor. Then, while remaining stable and avoiding shifting from side to side, pick one hand off the floor an inch, hold for five seconds, then repeat with the other hand. This cannot be done without fully engaging the core. Try to hold each side three to five times.
Anterior Stretch and Posterior Activation
With your palms flat against one another and behind your lower back, drive hands toward heels by pulling the shoulders back. This opens up the anterior, stretching the chest and the front of the shoulders.
Anchor a resistance band roughly waist-high in front of you. Then, standing straight, with an open chest and shoulders back, pull the band down to your sides with straight arms, using the shoulder and back musculature of the posterior complex. Do not arch your back. Do three sets of 15.
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