Here's an article I wrote for TrainingPeaks, which discusses some great routines I use with my athletes.
7 Pre-Workout Routines for Better Performance
Have you ever stumbled out of bed and wondered why it takes so long for you to gain your balance or be able to walk straight? Or have you ever sat for so long in a car or at a desk that the first few steps you wonder if your legs are listening to what your brain is telling them to do?
These are just a couple examples of how the connections between our brains and our muscles are sometimes not functioning properly due to periods of non-use. In the world of physical therapy, it is called neuromuscular activation. “Neuro” comes from the nervous system, which sends the signals from the brain to the “muscular” system, to activate the muscles.
Many physical therapists work with individuals just trying to get them to utilize muscles which aren’t firing or being used in common movements which would greatly enhance the strength and stability of the person during the movements. Most athletes scoff at this idea, but the research shows significant performance differences with neuromuscular activation improvements and some simple routines prior to bouts of exercise can be very effective at improving activation. For example, most athletes have seen dramatic neuromuscular improvements in the weight room, just in the first few weeks of lifting weights. It takes six weeks for athletes to show muscle growth from strength training, so those first six weeks of strength gains from those routines is almost entirely neuromuscular adaptation and improvements in activation.