Since the obscure title gave nothing away. With winter imminent, and game of thrones well and truly over. This article is going to be a mix of what you really should do in your warm up, and what you really should cut out to save time. Also, memes.
So, let’s break it down, what do you actually/factually/pterodactylly need in a warm up?
First one’s a freebie, it’s in the name. Get warm. How you achieve this is irrelevant, sitting in the car with the heater on, doing some low-intensity cardio equipment, squanching. It’s all the same, just increase core body temperature. If you want a marker, get a light sweat going. That awkward kind when you’re wearing formal office attire on a hot day’s commute while quietly contemplating how Aqua man can talk to whales? They’re mammals, not fish.
You’re warm, excellent, now what? Do some specific skill practice that’s relevant to your session. This varies depending on what you’re warming up for. Powerlifter? Do some bench, squat, or deadlift with the bar. Actual sport? Work some low impact skill drills, and slowly build in decelerative components then some low-intensity explosive movements. For instance, some multi-direction acceleration drills, making sure to fully decelerate. Build up to the full intensity of the training session gradually and there you go. Warm up done.
Let’s smash out some full examples while we’re at it.
Powerlifting Warm Up:
Light skipping 1minute, 10 controlled bodyweight squats, 10 controlled bodyweight hinges. Complete in a circuit fashion for 2-3 rounds.
Barbell Squat, 2 sets of 8-10 reps. Take earlier reps slower, but make sure and build up to your regular squatting tempo. Use this time to start practising your lifting ques for the session.
Work up in weight to your working weight.
point, if on your way up to work weight something feels slow, gross, or ‘not right’. Take it again, even just for a single. If you’re meant to be working up to 90% and you can’t get 70% grooving, it’s very worthwhile to crack the camera on, hit it again, and see what’s amiss.
Racquet Sport Warm-Up:
10 reps each of jumping jack, bodyweight squats, hinges, push-ups, lateral lunges, lunges with a twist. Complete in circuit fashion for 3-4 rounds.
Low speed shot run through. Go through 5-10 of each style of shot, played both backhand and forehand at low intensity. Then work in some lateral movement, by repeating the drill but adding a short distance shuttle between shots. Again, keep the intensity low and build up.
Time to get turnt
. Reduce the shot variety to your main 2-3 (or if the session has a focus, those ones.) Turn up the intensity of both return and lateral movement, working up to about 70-80% of game speed.
Obviously, these are very general in nature, but the principles can be both applied, and scaled up or down for any sport or athlete competency level.
No there is no foam rolling included. There almost always doesn’t need to be, and the bulk of this is going to be me explaining why. *Disclaimer* If you are an established reptile, outed by my last article. The body temp increase will take longer due to cold-bloodedness. Man’s not hot.
Increasing core body temperature, raise excitement levels (sympathetic nervous system), movement practice.
These are the triforce of warm up, power, wisdom, and courage. Master sword entirely optional. Foam rolling by in large achieves none of these, and if it does, there’s normally a better/quicker way. Is it 100% useless? Is KStarr no longer my homeboy? No, it has applications, just very few in an effective warm up.
“But I’m so tight/jacked up/stiff, after driving/sitting/clawing my way through existence.”
Honestly, most improvements you think you get from a never specific amount of foam humping, will likely be easier achieved by the increase in core body temperature. You don’t need to be a whale biologist to find material on core temperature and tissue pliability.
One of the other big lightbulbs in my thoughts on tissue work, was that if applying small to moderate forces (your bodyweight) to tissues caused significant change. How do we get through training? If forces close to, or more than your bodyweight caused changes to tissues, surely folk would be tearing things left right and centre?
So, when should you include foam rolling? Outside of training, specifically using it as part of your evening routine to relax and wind down for the day could be very beneficial. Specifically implementing it during deload weeks, and peak week training. Where the goal is to clear fatigue and peak not only training ‘fitness’ but also mental confidence. An often-overlooked part of both peaking and deloads is to try and reinvigorate readiness to train. You’re trying to ditch that weariness whilst also getting yourself mentally prepared for more training, or competition, depending on which case we’re talking about.
This is where the water gets muddy, since foam rolling can help by just making you ‘feel’ better. Which opens the floodgates to any type of recovery modality that renders any mood improvement, placebo or otherwise.
That sounds like it should be followed by a ‘thug life’ interlude, not so. There are entire industries built on the placebo effect, and so long as the application of whatever it is doesn’t detract from what you’re trying to achieve or your general health it’s all good. So, feel free to delve right into that Chinese thing with the needles on your next deload, what’s it called? Oh yeah, heroin.
About the Author
Will Brown has been working as a personal trainer for 7 years, after co-founding Athlete Training Systems. What started as a rack and some plates in a garage has now grown into a full powerlifting gym. Will has spent the past few years coaching a wide variety of clients ranging from amateur athletes in rugby and American football to successful business leaders in the Edinburgh area.
Will played hockey for The Edinburgh Academy for over a decade culminating in a three-year stint with their first XI squad. A love for American football then led him to several years at various positions on the Edinburgh Wolves American football team. After several more severe injuries, he left football and moved on to powerlifting where he strives to be anything better than average.