Warm Ups

The importance of warm ups and why there is no one single warm up that fits all.

Noel recently wrote a blog outlining the 4 things that he hates about gyms and trainers right now. (find it here) In that post the first thing he mentioned was warm ups and how there are too many coaches who give incorrect warm ups and try use a one size fits all approach.

Like Noel, I too despise some warm ups I have seen both in gyms and before athletic performance. I have seen people warm up for weight training sessions by walking on a treadmill or cycling on a bike and wonder why on earth they are doing that? Basically, because whoever told them to do it is uninformed on the matter. At ABC gym we greatly believe in the ‘Movement before Muscle’approach that was really first brought to the industry by Vern Gambetta who is a pioneer in Strength and Conditioning. We don’t agree with adding tonnes of weight to a bad pattern, that’s why we focus so much on the movement and the pattern. We believe that if you can get really great movement and technique then the weight will add itself. This follows my own personally philosophy of ‘Do no harm, move well and move often’ which really hit home when I heard it first from Gary Schofield, an American high school strength and conditioning coach.

Conor McGregor has really brought to light the importance of movement training. I Personally agree with him and love that he’s promoting it! Moving well is so important for day to day life. Babies learn to roll and crawl before they walk yet these patterns are quickly lost as they grow. Now I’m not saying we warm up with movements like McGregor in ABC but we do try and improve in patterns that are useful in day to day life.

Why do I have to warm up?

Why bother warm up? Like why don’t you go straight into whatever you’re doing? One word: INJURY. Warm ups help limit and prevent silly injuries that can occur like muscle strains and tears. They can also actually improve your performance! There are so many studies out there that show the difference in performance between doing an activity ‘cold’ (no warm up) and then doing the same activity with a specific warm up.

What even goes in to a warm up?

A warm up should prepare the body for the activity it is about to undertake and mimic those movements. For example, a session including squatting should include Hip and ankle mobility. We generally follow a sequence that Noel referred to in the above blog.

·       Movement Prep (Preparing the body for the movements that will be in the session.)

·       Increase range of motion through stretching and mobility.

·       Activate or ‘fire up’ as we call it. Some power movements that are done fast with maximal effort. This is done to get the central nervous system engaged and primed for the session.

As previously mentioned, movement prep 100% depends on session content. Increasing range of motion is done in two different stages at ABC. We focus on areas that will be used in the session on that day but also on areas from the previous days to help release tightness in those areas.

How do I increase range of motion?

We follow a ‘Dynamic Stretching’ protocol. I recently completed my thesis on this very subject and proved the performance enhancements dynamic stretching has over static stretching. Yet teams and individuals all over the country still use it in their warm ups for matches and training. In fact, NFL teams STILL use static stretching before their games and they have some of the most explosive athletes on the planet, I just don’t understand why? It is one of the things that infuriates me, personally.

Static stretching decreases the body’s ability create power. That’s why I don’t use it before any session. I prefer to use methods that are going to have positive impacts on my session so I can get everything I possibly can out of that workout!

Should I ditch static stretching completely?

In short, no. However, you just need to know when to use it. Static stretching is a FANTASTIC tool for increasing range of motion and getting rid of ‘tightness’ in the muscle. I use it after training and on rest days. Stretching can help relieve delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS, that god awful tightness and soreness in the muscle 1-2 days after training.)

But warming up is so boring…

Warming up does not have to be a tedious task that you feel you must do. Any good trainer should be able to incorporate games and fun into any warm up. In my own personal experience warm ups are such a great way for setting tone and really engaging both yourself as the coach and your clients in the session. At the end of the day if something is boring and monotonous then it won’t get done properly.

Warming up is a vital part of the entire workout, like I mentioned above, it’s such a great way to get engaged and switched on for the session. It is the ultimate tone setter and has the ability to actually improve your performance. So don’t hate the warm up, attack it the same way you would attack a 1 rep max effort! A good warm up can be the most beneficial part of the workout.

Keep checking out this space for more posts from both Noel and I on current topics and other issues we feel you guys should know! If you have questions or a topic you want addressed just contact the Facebook page here.

Rory Fleming,

ABC Gym trainer