Have you ever spent 10-minutes thoroughly warming up your entire system: mind, body, and even soul only to still feel deflated as you walk over to the barbell to start your workout?
You're not along. Often we get so wrapped up in increasing blood flow, mobilizing joints, and carrying out our injury prevention protocol, that one of the most important components of the warmup gets swept under the rug.
I think we can all agree the central nervous system is truly the foundation of any training session - without its responsiveness not much is getting done. But does it have degrees of responsiveness? Degrees of readiness? Or is the nervous system always ready to fire at 100% efficiency and effectiveness?
Exciting the Central Nervous System is a crucial final component to anyone's warm-up. It turns out, the CNS is NOT always ready to go and needs some "priming" of its own.
A bit of proper CNS activation is the final step to warming up that will allow the athlete to feel ready to go - reactive, fast, excited.
Any gentle rotational work, builder sprints, light plyometrics will do the trick. The key is to do a couple of sets of 3-5 reps and allow the body to build from about 70% effort to 90% or so. It is key to adjust effort based on how the athlete is feeling on that particular day. If the athlete can't get through this part and "wake up" you should take note as it is a sign the body is not be ready to train that day... but that's another topic.
Upper Body Days - my favorite way to get ready for an upper body training day is to finish my warm-up with a light medicine ball circuit. I tailor effort to how I'm feeling. Sometimes the throws stay fairly light and fast, while other times I end up close to 100% effort by the last couple of reps.
Lower Body Days - Box jumps are my favorite to prime for a deadlift or squat day. You can minimize the impact from landing quite a bit and that helps this feel easier on the body while still doing its job to fire up the CNS. Another great option are very small hops/jumps: side-to-side, front-to-back, and single leg hops are all great options.
Give your CNS some love the next time you warmup and see if you feel your readiness to perform on the field, court, or gym changes.