Build the Foundation for a Better Workout

The key to a great workout is a great warm-up

Catherine King
Photo: Ronald Lee

The secret to this no-equipment home workout is in the warm-up which features low intensity and high volume. This potentiation warm-up is the brainchild of Matt Wenning, a three-time world champion powerlifter and coach. It’s a highly effective way to build work capacity, increase functional muscle mass, address imbalances, increase fitness level and improve recovery and body composition. It includes exercises that are non-compressive, address common weaknesses and will prepare you for the main workout. Muscle groups that tend to be weak include core, hamstrings, glutes, triceps, scapular muscles and rotators.

Potentiation Warm-Up

All levels: 4 sets of 25 reps

Complete as a circuit within 12 to 14 minutes performing 100 reps total

Unloaded squat, pushups on knees (close hand position to emphasize triceps, if you are advanced perform from toes), glute bridge.

The warm-up should feel uncomfortable and challenging. Push through the fire and you should feel energized when completed. The amount of rest between the warm-up and workout should be minimal. If you were doing a heavy strength or power workout you would need a much longer rest period.

1. Russian Kettlebell Challenge Plank

Russian Kettlebell Challenge Plank
Photo: Ronald Lee

Beginner: 1–3 sets, hold for 10–20 seconds
3–6 sets, hold for 10–20 seconds

Start on your stomach on the floor, place elbows under your shoulders, keep fists apart, have your knees bent and feet relaxed in the air. Set your head and shoulders in a neutral position. Take a breath into your belly and brace. Lift your pelvis up and tighten your fists. Lift one knee and plant your foot back into plank position. Lift second knee and plant your foot. Drive your elbows and toes towards each other, irradiating your entire body. Light everything up like the Las Vegas strip. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat for 3 to 6 sets.

2. Prone Shoulder Hovers

Prone Shoulder Hovers
Photo: Ronald Lee

All levels: 1–3 Sets of 6–10 Reps

Start on your stomach on the floor placing a folded towel under your forehead for comfort. If you lack the ability, or experience pain with this exercise, move arms into a
T or W shape instead.

Place hands on the back of your head with fingers interlocked. Extend arms out into a Y shape keeping arms locked out and hands high. Move arms down into a T, rotate hands so thumbs are pointing down. Move arms into the A shape. Bend elbows bringing hands behind your back keeping hands high. Rest hands on low back, letting elbows go down to the floor. Reverse the movement and return to start position.

3. Back Extension

Back Extension
Photo: Ronald Lee

All levels: 2–4 Sets of 8–15 Reps

Lie on your stomach on the floor. Place hands under your chin or extend arms out into a Y or I for more challenge. Raise your chest off the floor while keeping a neutral head position. Return to start and repeat.

4. Sneaky Lunge

Sneaky Lunge
Photo: Ronald Lee

Beginner: 1–3 sets of 8–15 reps
3–6 sets of 8–15 reps

Stay low keeping at the same level for this version of a walking lunge. If it is too challenging, perform a split squat or reverse lunge. If not challenging enough, add load and stay really low.

5. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
Photo: Ronald Lee

Beginner: 1–3 sets of 8–15 reps
Intermediate/Advanced: 3–6 sets of 8–15 reps

Root one foot into the floor and think about pushing back through your hip, keeping your pelvis level. Hinge at your hip keeping your back in a neutral position and chest spread open. Elevate one foot until you attain a horizontal position with a straight line from your head to your ankle. Drive with your hip to return to a tall standing position.

If you have trouble balancing place your arms in a T position, or place the toe of your elevated foot on the floor, slightly back from your rooted foot. If you are adding load, the weight will rest below your shoulders within your centre of gravity. Repeat on both sides. To increase the challenge add resistance with weights or a band.

Location: YWCA Vancouver, B.C.

Photos by Ronald Lee

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