"Perfecting The Warm-Up" is a guest post by Matt Unthank, M.S., CSCS. In addition to his extensive knowledge in the realm of improving athletic performance, he is also a shoulder guru for Crossover Symmetry.
Want to prevent injury while maximizing performance in every workout? For many, dialing up the movement preparation is all that’s needed to fix nagging pains and take their workout to the next level (1,2). Try using the following 5 step plan as a guideline for perfecting the warmup to perform better today.
1. Mobility (0-5 minutes)
Priority one is taking care of any movement restrictions that might bind you up in your training. This is not the time for a mega smash session or a full yoga routine, just a quick and aggressive attack of your greatest limiter. This should be like your last minute test cram, the majority of your studying (mobility work) should have been done prior to that point. So tackle anything that will hold you back in the upcoming workout.
2. Increase Temperature (5-15 minutes)
For many, this is where the warmup begins and ends, and it’s often unproductive. In order to really get some warmup benefits, your muscle temperature needs to increase (3). This is usually indicated by some sweating. Unless you are training in a garage in Texas, wear something that will help you get warm (sweatshirt, beanie, ect.). It also doesn’t always have to be running or rowing either, help yourself become more athletic during this time. Speed ladders, running football routes, double under practice, and other dynamic movement drills will get you warm and aren’t such a beat down. So throw on a hoodie and start playing.
3. Increase Intensity (15-17 minutes)
Some will freak out about this because there is still a whole workout looming over their head, but the muscles actually work better once you have primed all the metabolic pathways and recruited the fast twitch muscle fibers (4,5). This means you need to add some intensity before you start training. This component should include some fast and explosive movements, such as short sprints, jumps and throws. Get out of breath in this phase, you will have plenty of time to recover throughout the remainder of the warmup.
4. Muscle Activation (17-23 minutes)
At this point you should have some sweat going on, it’s time to start getting technical with your warmup. Take the big movements for your upcoming workout and look at preparing the muscles involved through neuromuscular activation (6). This is simply turning on the switches to grease the movement patterns necessary for the workout at hand. Crossover Symmetry is perfect in this phase as a quick and effective way to activate the movers and stabilizers of the shoulder by using common functional movement patterns.
5. Movement Activation (23-30 minutes)
Finally, get to the big stuff. Start progressing and loading into the core movements that are programmed that day. Clean and Snatch progressions, work the kip, get a barbell overhead; whatever movements you have on the board that day.
1. Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Woods, K., Bishop, P. and Jones, E. 2007, Sports Medicine, Vol. 37, pp. 1089-99.
2. Compliance with a comprehensive warm-up progreamme to prevent injuries in youth football. Soligard, T., et al. 2010, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 44, pp. 787-93.
3. Skeletal muscle ATP turnover and muscle fiber conduction velocity are elevated at higher muscle temperatures during maximal power output in humans. Gray, S., et al. 2005, American Journal of Physiology, Vol. 290, pp. R376-R382.
4. High-intensity warm up improves performance during subsequent intermittent exercise. Zois, J., Bishop, D. and Aughey, R. 2014, International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.
5. The effect of an intermittent, high-intensity warm-up on supramaximal kayak ergometer performance. Bishop, D., Bonetti, D. and Spencer, M. 2003, Journal of Sports Sciences, Vol. 21, pp. 13-20.
6. Motor unit synchronization and neuromuscular performance. Semmler, J. 2002, Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, Vol. 30, pp. 8-14.