Muscle Activation Exercises

When ever you are ready to workout, especially the lower body, it’s very important to hit some warm ups that target certain muscle groups so they become ACTIVATED. With muscle activation, you are ‘jumpstarting’ those muscles. Because our job lives are so sedentary, it’s good to hit these exercises to target the weak muscles, and ‘turn them back on’. When you sit for a long portion of the day, most of your muscle groups are ‘deactivated’ and ‘at rest.’ So we’re going to need to flip the switch and get those bad boys going. It’s like spraying starter fluid in your lawnmowers spark plug to get it going after sitting in the garage for a long winter. Once these special groups become activated, you will be ready to jump start your engines!

To give you a brief understanding of what these exercises are all about, let’s compare our bodies to a car. Flip open the hood of your car and take a look at your engine. As a woman, I kinda know some parts, but that’s a LOT  of freaken parts under the hood to get my 3300lb car going! Well, that’s what our bodies are like. Everything plays a role in getting our bodies, or cars, moving. If one thing fails, no matter how small or big the problem is, there are consequences for that part failing. For example, if you let your oil tank go about unchanged, it may act fine for a while, but what you’re really doing is clogging the engine more and more as each day goes by. A few months go by, and your car dies. Hmmmmmmmm…..changed your oil recently???

It’s the same with our bodies. We have what’s called proprioeceptors in our muscles.  Basically, these send signals to your brain CONSTANTLY to tell you to either ‘contract’, ‘release’, ‘fix the rolling ankle’, etc. At the same time your brain sends signals to your body without you knowing: you breathe, the heart consistently pumps, oxygen is carried through your body, etc. However, there will be cases when you’ll experience a trauma, blow, or just over use to a certain part of your body, that these signals can get mixed feelings. Our muscles contract on demand, and when signals are mixed or screwed up, it can cause some serious consequences, whether it be now or later in life. Hence, why your knee, hip, shoulder, or lower back may be in pain. OUCH!

There are ways to reverse these process and/or eliminate them with time, so you can go on with your daily life with NO PAIN. It would be nice to live PAIN FREE right? Well, take care of your body. It’s been taking care of you for many years, so do your body a favor and lets fix these pains!

Below, I’m going to list a few muscle activation exercises. These are GREAT to do BEFORE your workouts and even AFTER, ESPECIALLY if your a jogger (most importantly, make sure to FOAM ROLL!).

  • Ankle Mobilizations (on hands and feet, butt up in the air, ankles crossed; raise up on one ball of foot then
    change legs and repeat) x 8 reps/leg
  • Bridges (lying on back, both heels on ground near butt, knees bent at 90 degress , raise hips towards ceiling, in line with spine, and slowly lower back to ground) x 10
    reps/leg
  • Single Leg Bridge (Same as the regular bridge but bring one leg up bent at 90 degrees, don’t let the heel come to butt; push hips up towards ceiling, in line with spine, and slowly bring back down) x 8 reps for each leg
  • Single Leg Hamstring Kicks (lie on back, one leg (straight) moves up to 90 degrees
    and back; keep leg as straight as possible) x 10 reps/leg
  • Rollover to V-sit (roll back and sit up into a V shape with legs) x 10 reps
  • Rollover to Hurdler Seat (roll back and sit up with one leg straight and one bent in with
    knee out to side) x 10/leg
  • Groiners x 10 reps (alternating jump backs starting with front leg bent and back leg
    straight. Hands are flat on ground next to bent leg. )
  • Fire Hydrants (on all fours, one leg comes up and down to side, make sure to lead up with the knee and keep foot flexed) x 10/leg
  • Fire Hydrant – forward (counter clockwise) circles with leg in up position x 10/leg
  • Fire Hydrant – backward (clockwise) circles with leg in up position x 10/leg
  • Prone Scorpion (lying on stomach with arms out to sides, with your opposite leg and arm (keep chest down, arms out, and palms down) try to touch the hand with your opposite foot. ) – works hip flexors and lower
    abs) x 10 (alternating legs)
  • Crossovers (similar to scorpion, lying on back) x 10 (alternating legs)

*Anyone with chronic low back, hip, or knee pain should steer clear of the prone scorpion and crossovers.  This is due to the possible stress of the joints.

These are great for activating those weak muscles and preparing you for your workouts. I HIGHLY suggest doing these BEFORE AND AFTER your workouts to improve your quality of life. If you are unsure about some of these, feel free to email me: workoutwithlindsay@gmail.com and also make sure to have a professional supervising you when you do these for the first time. And always get clearance from your doc and/or therapist before starting up any program! Don’t be a goober and jump right into an unfamiliar program without guidance FIRST! Your safety and health come first!

Have a great week everyone!

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