If you’ve ever played a sport or picked up a weight in your lifetime you’ve probably thought about warming or had someone tell you how to do it. There are many effective ways to warm up. Because I’ve been know to give long winded answers to training questions, if someone were to ask me how to warm up I’d say, it kinda depends. If I have an individual that moves well and doesn’t need a lot of corrective strategy I may address a few specific joints to mobilize and then I want the warm up to be mainly some easy skill work. That means possibly practicing the goblet squat, split squat, single leg deadlift, get-up, etc, but certainly moving through a full range of motion in several directions with light load or none at all. The same goes for a young person (teenager) most of the time. Often they don’t have serious movement issues and basic movements from head to toe should do the trick. Fundamentals: Practice them, often.
Two different situations might include an individual training situation where he or she has some more serious movement dysfunction. That I think is important to address very early on in the warm up before moving to some more general movement patterns to both practice and raise some body temp. Last would be a small group of adults as opposed to kids. I think that generally speaking, and in training groups generalizations have to be made, that adults need some more specific or focused work on the hips and thoracic spine as part of the warm up. That’s not to say that the skill work (squats, bridges, etc) won’t come in to play here as well, but it’s fair to say that adults have spent more time “ruining” their posture than younger kids who simply haven’t lived as long. The other day I saw Coach Mike Boyle had the following to say about warming up and it inspired me to write this post: “You should train to feel better, not worse, and the warm-up is key to staying healthy. I think it’s the difference between success and failure.” Here is what a typical warm up looks like for our adult groups:
1. Strength and endurance cannot optimally be developed at the same time since they are at opposite ends of the spectrum
2. Developing maximal strength increases the potential for maximum endurance
3. Strength takes longer to develop than endurance/conditioning.
This was music to my ears as I personally don’t love endurance training and only slightly care conditioning in general. That being said I believe that without some baseline of strength all other attempts of athleticism are futile. Sure one can still perform, but certainly not to their full potential. It reminds me of what Coach Mike Boyle (again, I know) has said about endurance training for team sports which when paraphrased goes like this, it is much easier to turn a explosive team sport athlete into a long distance runner than it is to turn a distance runner into an explosive athlete.
Recently at Ambition Athletics we have been experimenting with some new grip training tools. Some of the exercises can pretty tough. Others are downright laughable because they are impossible, but it’s been fun trying out some new challenging exercises. Grip strength is possibly an underrated skill. Should it be a priority in the average person’s training? Not likely, but much like the way the foot gives our brain so much tactile and sensory information the hands are similar. I can remember Coach Brett Jones telling an attendee at a seminar that he doesn’t wear gloves when he trains because he wants as little as possible coming between him and what he is trying to accomplish. Not only that, but gripping something or carrying some heavy kettlebells or dumbbells initiates a reflexive firing of the rotator cuff that can help both the healthy individual and the person in a rehab setting. Finally, a truly strong grip is not required to create tension but simply squeezing your grip during a press of some kind or upper body pulling movement will create irradiation (tension) and thus strength throughout the rest of the body. So, you could get fancy with a bunch of different training tools, which can be fun for some, or keep it as simple as some farmers walks and one arm kettlebell swings to enhance your grip strength. After that all you need is some focus.
Finally, I hope you read this far because this might be the important part of all. Often at Ambition Athletics we talk about fun and getting better for life/activity outside the gym. I try and often remind myself that whatever I’m doing, it’s about the journey. Earlier today, which could really be yesterday because it’s getting late and I hope all of this still makes sense, I was reading an older Sports Illustrated issue (don’t ask) and there was a great article about the good that still exists in sports today and how it brings people, family, generations together through courage, spirit and amazing stories. It reminded me about simply having fun no matter what your age and a one of my favorite quotes from a Rick Reilly Sports Illustrated article in ’99 that went like this:
“None of us are going to find ourselves on our deathbeds saying, “Dang, I wish I spent more time on the Hibbings account.” We’re going to say, “That scar? I got that scar stealing a home run from Consolidated Plumbers!”
Whatever it is you are doing this weekend, go have some fun, play, enjoy it.
– Mike Baltren