Warm ups: Why are they important?

Warm ups: Why are they important?

04 Feb

Warm ups: Why are they important?


Here are a few pieces to think about:

  • Preparing aerobic system (pulmonary, cardiovascular, and muscular systems) for work ahead
  • Getting the mind prepared and centered on the tasks ahead
  • Getting the brain and body connected to the patterns that are going to be trained and pushed
  • Refining movement asymmetries and working on structural issues in a non-fatigued/low demand setting
  • Building muscle contraction volume with low level movements

When thinking about warm ups, we need to first look at, what is the intent of the training session? What are we prioritizing? That is going to dictate what is applicable for the warm up. Let’s give some examples,

  1. Strength based session in a knee flexion pattern (think: heavy squatting)
    1. Pieces within the warm up that would be of value:
      1. knee flexion drills or movement patterns with low load, right to left correctional work, anteriorly loaded carries / holds / light knee flexion to help prepare the midline for bracing
  2. Sustainable Aerobic Work (Mixed and Cyclical based) (think: challenging intervals)
    1. Pieces within the warm up that would be of value:
      1. Systemic blood flow to the periphery
      2. Elevated core temperature to improve cardiac output
      3. Full range of motion patterns that will be within the training pieces
      4. Nothing intense or overly taxing; want to feel good and ready for the work ahead (if we get into intensive work within the warm up we can start to utilize improper fueling mechanisms that will pull away from the intent of the training.
  3. “CrossFit” / Qualifier / Mixed Test style session: (think: for time test piece, lots of pain)
    1. Pieces within the warm up that would be of value:
      1. Systemic blood flow to the periphery (still need GREAT blood flow)
      2. Lower threshold patterns that replicate the test ahead (e.g. – air squats if there was squatting in the test)
      3. Small hits of more intensive paced pieces of work (this could be included or placed in a “specific prep” portion of a session) – these pieces of work will have the intent of touching additional fueling pathways that we might not otherwise hit with sustained aerobic work

Now that we have some written examples of how warm ups will differ relative to the intent of the training session, let’s dive into some actual examples to give concrete context:

  1. Strength based session in a knee flexion pattern

10 min EZ:

10 Cal AB

5/leg High Box Step Up @ 30”

20m Double KB Front Rack Carry @ tough load

+

3 sets:

8/leg Counter-balance Skater Squat @ 2020

30 sec Star Plank / Side

*rest as needed b/t pieces

In this piece, we start with general blood flow for 10 minutes that includes single leg hip and knee flexion with anterior core loaded activities. This will help the system open up patterns that might otherwise be a bit restrictive along with potentiating midline bracing with breathing. This is followed up with some specific right to left hip and knee flexion drills to help further dial in the pattern and prepare the nervous system for the work ahead

  1. Sustainable Aerobic Work (Mixed and Cyclical based)

15 min EZ:

15 Cal AB

10 Walking Lunges

5 Burpees to 6” OH

15 Cal Row

10 Air Squats

5 Toes Thru Ring

+

Rest/prep

+

Cyclical / Mixed Aer. Sets

5 sets @ 80%/Sustained Power:

2 min AB

90 sec walk

2 min Row

90 sec walk

*record average RPM and split per round

*sustained output

In this piece, we are focusing on blood flow to the periphery through cyclical and bodyweight patterns. The intent is to open up the body, allow for acceptance of more blood flow, feel free, no restrictions, and ready to breathe.

 

  1. “CrossFit” / Qualifier / Mixed Test style session:

10 min EZ:

15 Cal Row

5 BJSD @ 24”

5 No Push Ups Burpees

5 KBS @ 24kg

30 DU’s (in sets of 15 UB)

+

Rest

+

3 sets @ increasing pace per set:

15 Cal AB

5 Burpee to 6” OH

5 KBS @ 32kg

5 WB @ 20# to 10’

15 Cal Row

-rest/walk 2 min b/t sets-

Last time @ 90+%

+

Rest

+

Test:

12 min AMRAP:

12 WB @ 20# to 10’

10 Burpees

8 KBS @ 32kg

In this piece, we are still focusing on blood flow to the periphery through cyclical and bodyweight patterns. There are more complex movements within this warm up piece as they replicate the test for the session. But the context is very different. This is followed with some preparation pieces that are preparing the system to utilize additional fuel sources for the test. The intent of these pieces is to increase pace each set to slowly expose the system to the pace you want to maintain, if not slightly faster, when it comes time to do the test. This is also increasing confidence, awareness, and presence on the task at hand. The brain and body know what is coming. There are no secrets.

-------------------------------------------

Main Takeaways:

  • Identify the intent/purpose of the training session
  • Think about blood flow to the periphery, low level skills, and cultivating presence and awareness for the task at hand
  • Utilize the warm up to work on asymmetries and other pieces that can be addressed in a non-fatigue setting

Main phrase: “Warm Up to Produce”

Hire a coach
< Back to Blog

Start here: 5 Habits from elite athletes
Download

Sign up for exclusive free content