Your warm-up should be both simple and gradual. It should be sufficient enough to increase your muscle and core temperatures without causing you to experience fatigue or a reduction in your energy stores. This means you should take your time with your first few exercises. By the end of your warm-up you should feel energized and ready to pick up your intensity level rather than feeling as if your warm-up was strenuous enough to be your entire workout. This makes your warm-up highly individualized. A warm-up for an experienced Krav Maga practitioner can completely exhaust someone who is doing Krav Maga training for the very first time. The best way to monitor the level of your warm-up is by paying attention to how your body feels. Your warm-up should be about ten to twenty minutes long to efficiently get the core temperature to increase, lengthen muscles, and lubricate joints. If you are working at too high of an intensity, you will find yourself short of breath and sometimes it can hurt to breathe. If this happens, slow down and focus on taking deep breaths.
Due to the fact that Krav Maga fitness requires bursts of high-intensity exercise, there is another consideration that takes on an added significance. Sudden exertion and high-intensity bursts can trigger the onset of myocardial infarction, particularly in individuals who are normally sedentary.
Myocardial infarction is the medical term for a heart attack. As scary as this may sound, for the sake of safety it is important that you understand how your heart and blood vessels are affected by quick bursts of exercise. (To better understand the function of your heart and lungs, along with the effects of heart disease, please refer to Chapter 4 and the section on cardiorespiratory fitness.)
For the unconditioned or weakened heart, the burden of sudden and extreme exertion (caused by genetic heart defects, shock, extreme physical or emotional trauma, or physical activity) may be more than the muscle can bear. Your heart is a muscle and behaves in similar fashion to the rest of the muscles of your body. For example, if you try to bench press more weight than your chest muscles are prepared or able to lift, then those overburdened muscles will give out. This is why weight lifters always use a spotter to help them recover the weight if their muscles fail.
When you are warming up before exercising, it is important to increase you heart rate in a gradual and steady manner. A slow and smooth increase of your heart rate will ensure an optimal blood pressure as well as the proper distribution of blood to the heart muscle.
Myocardial infarction is a disease of the heart that occurs as a result of an interruption of the blood supply to a part of the heart. The resulting shortage of oxygen can damage and even deaden muscle tissues in your heart.
Unless you are wearing a heart rate monitor, there is no way to determine what your exact heart rate is. In this case you can use what trainers refer to as the rate of perceived exertion. This means that you monitor your intensity by how you are feeling. On a scale of 1–20, with 1 being the easiest and 20 being all-out, 100 percent effort, the warm-up should start at a 3 or 4, increase to 5 or 6 after a few minutes, then increase to 7 or 8 after a few more minutes. The warm-up usually does not go over a 10 on the intensity scale.
Your warm-up should begin with some easy cardiorespiratory exercises. Remember, your warm-up is going to be highly individualized. For a normally sedentary person, this may mean walking briskly for five minutes.
Someone with more exercise experience may jog for five minutes. Any exercise that increases the heart rate and respiratory rate will work. Cycling, elliptical machines, stair masters — all are considered cardiorespiratory machines. It is recommended that you perform five to ten minutes of easy to moderate yet continuous cardiorespiratory exercise to begin your warm-up.
Cardiorespiratory exercise — also referred to as aerobic exercise — is a form of exercise that employs continuous, rhythmic activity in order to strengthen your heart and lungs.
Once your cardiorespiratory system begins to work a little harder and your body temperature has increased slightly, you may then begin some dynamic and active-passive stretching. Dynamic stretching involves using movement that takes your joints through their entire ranges of motion. Making large circles with your arms and rotating your hips and spine are dynamic forms of stretching. Even actions that are normally considered physical exercises, such as lunges and squats, can be considered forms of dynamic stretching when they are performed with slow control and held in place instead of completed in steady succession as they are normally done in a workout.
Active-static stretching is when you hold a stretch from two to fifteen seconds but have other muscles that are contracting in order to assist in the lengthening of the desired muscle. This type of stretch will look very still to the eyes of an observer. However, on the inside of your body there is a lot of work going on to stabilize, lengthen, and create space within your muscle structure. A good active-static stretch will keep the temperature of your body sustained and continue to increase your body temperature depending on the position that you are holding.
People who are generally a little tighter will likely see this type of stretching as very challenging. These people need to keep in mind that it does not matter how far into a stretch you are able to go. The intention of stretching is to lengthen your muscles and move your joints. Again, this is highly individualized and it's important for you to work at your own level.
Following are some stretches that you may consider using for your general warm-up routine. You can also use the yoga poses for strength stretching in Chapter 5.
High Knee Hold
Standing firm on your base leg, lift your opposite knee up and hold the front of your lower leg (shin). Pull your leg in tight toward your chest, holding it for one to two seconds. Release the leg with control and switch sides. This opens up both the hip of your lifted leg as well as the hip flexor of your base leg.
HIGH KNEE HOLD
External Rotation Hold
Standing firm on your base leg, lift the opposite knee and rotate it out to your side. Hold the front of your ankle and the heel of your lifted leg.
EXTERNAL ROTATION HOLD
Straight Leg Lifts
Standing firm on your base leg, lift your opposite leg up in front of you. You may touch the bottom of your foot with the opposite hand, but this is not necessary. Lower your leg with control and switch sides. This can be done by repeating with the same leg before switching or by alternating back and forth. This exercise lengthens your hamstrings and hip flexors, loosens your hips, and engages the muscles in the trunk of your body.
STRAIGHT LEG LIFTS
Standing Quad Stretch
Standing firm on your base leg, reach back and grab the top of your opposite foot, bringing your heel close to your hip. This stretch works on the principle of static balance and lengthens the quadriceps in your bent leg.
STANDING QUAD STRETCH
Standing Quad Stretch with Touch to Floor
This is a progression of the Standing Quad Stretch. Once you have mastered the static balance, try touching the floor with your free hand. This lengthens your base leg's hamstring and challenges your dynamic balance.
STANDING QUAD STRETCH WITH TOUCH TO FLOOR
Single-leg Dead Lift
Standing on one leg, reach your opposite leg back and up. As your upper body tips forward, keep your trunk and spine elongated. You may or may not touch the floor then come back to standing. The work is in your base leg, especially the hamstring.