There was an interesting article a few weeks back in the New York Times titled The Right Way to Warm Up Is (Your Answer Here).
In it there are several varying opinions on the necessity of a warm-up. Exercise researchers weigh in through the article stating that there is really little to no research available to prove that warming up has any real benefits when it comes to sports performance. Later in the article it is said that the benefits to warming up are only “theory.”
I’m not sure who these researchers are but I’m certain they have no experience in real world performance training. They go on to say how many athletes warm up for long periods of time even going into high intensity zones of their sport, and how this may be counterproductive.
This got me thinking about the warm-up and how I honestly believe the warm-up is one of the most important parts of a training session. Multiple tasks can be accomplished through that 10 or 15 minute time period. It can and should be much more than just trying to break a sweat. Each of my warm-ups has specific objectives with four different aspects that are included in each.
It’s important to prepare joints and tissues for the loading and the range of motion that occur in the following training session. Increasing mobility throughout the warm-up can and should help athletes attain proper positions throughout their workout such as performing ankle, or hip mobility prior to a squat session.
We all know the importance of the glutes in preventing hamstring and low back injuries, as well as the VMO’s importance in knee health. Include activation for inhibited area’s prior to heavier training to help get these muscles firing throughout the main training session.
3. Injury Prevention
Training the small muscles of the hip, and rotator cuff / scap can easily be lost when it comes to training. Sure squats, pulls, lunges, chin-ups, etc should take up the majority of time in a weight room session, but all too often these muscles get neglected due to time constraints. I place work for these groups everyday in some part of the warm-up. By doing so you get a fairly large weekly volume of work, and guarantee yourself that you won’t run out of time and forget to implement work for these important areas.
4. Movement Skills / Patterning
Actually teaching and training movement is one of the most underutilized aspects of training that I see in weight rooms across the country. Movements don’t happen only in the main training session they occur in every aspect of a workout. Teaching athletes proper athletic positions during lunge patterns, lunge patterns with rotation, sprint warm-ups, etc. throughout the warmup can greatly benefit kids. A lot of coaches may only do an exercise one time per week during the main training session but athletes warm-up everyday prior to training. In essence teaching and training movement patterns in the warm-up gives athletes exponentially greater retention rates and creates stronger motor patterns in those movements. I squat, lunge, rotate, and teach athletic positions in every one of our warm-ups.
Don’t neglect the value of a good warm-up. The warm-up can still constitutes a large percentage of your weekly time. Too much can be achieved in that time period. Just having them jog 800 yards and do crunches should go by the wayside.