You’re starting to breathe heavier. You’re becoming aware of the sensations in your body. Your heart is starting to pump faster, sending a rush of blood where you need it. You’re nearly there, you’re nearly ready—to work out.
If this doesn’t sound like your typical exercise warm-up session, allow us to recommend a new approach to your pre-workout routine: Muscle Foreplay.
“It’s the same thing with sex, you actually need to have a little foreplay to get a little blood flow to your body” obé trainer Walter Kemp, who coined the term while teaching a recent obé class, says. “We’ve got to bring ourselves to the moment to be warm enough mentally, too.”
So just like a foreplay session while getting intimate, muscle foreplay is about physically warming up your body by promoting blood flow, but it’s also about getting in the right frame of mind to inhabit our bodies and be present.
But it’s about more than just calling a warm up “foreplay.” By changing the way we describe this crucial part of our exercise routines, we could also change our whole mindset. It could frame exercise as a more pleasurable activity we get to do, not some big effort we have to gear up for.
“When you think of foreplay, it’s something that’s enjoyable,” Kemp says. “You look at it completely differently from ‘oh man, I have to do this right now.’ This is an opportunity for you to connect your mind, your body, and your soul, and recognize that this is going to be an experience for you. And ultimately, you’re creating that experience.”
Kemp believes muscle foreplay also has the added benefit of making us more in tune with what our bodies are ready to do that day, if we take the opportunity to listen.
“It’s your moment to tap into your mental space and what you need,” Kemp says. “It’s like a check in with yourself in the same way you would with your partner.”
Are you ready to get down with some foreplay? Kemp’s favorite thing to do, first off, is to breathe deeply and send oxygen throughout your body. Next, he likes to lead his class in a series of body weight squats, because it’s a highly cardiovascular full-body movement that promotes blood flow to energize those muscles. Finally, try a plank because it helps to engage all your muscles, increasing the chances that they stay activated throughout the main event.
But who says the main course is better than the appetizer? When a warmup feels this good, that muscle foreplay might just be your favorite part of the meal. Enjoy.
Get your muscles ready for their next workout with this energizing flow: