120220 The general warm up

120220 The general warm up

The runner’s may actually be onto something when they start out on a run-they normally begin at a slower pace than the main portion of the run will be. Any exercise that revs up the cardiovascular system is good except for the time-honored jumping jacks. As mentioned in Thomas Kurz excellent training manual Science of Sports Training,[1] these are contraindicated as a warm up because there is NO technique in any sport that is similar or can be improved by doing these outdated exercises. This activity causes a neurological disorganization in an athlete by causing a regression to an out of sync, homolateral pattern of locomotion resulting in a vague feeling of confusion. Additionally, jumping jacks raise the levels of blood lactate before the main workout and are not a lead in exercise for any lifting technique.

Increased flexibility is a residual effect of the influx of blood into the muscles. Immediately after the aerobic warm up begin with dynamic stretches. Arm and leg rotations to the front, side, rear and in large circles. More leg rotations can be done during this time than arm rotations due to muscle mass involved. Ten to twelve legs compared to five to eight arm rotations. Do as many as necessary to reach full range of motion in any particular direction. Throwers, warming up, would follow a systematic sequence that is specific to the shoulders.

Notice there was no mention of any isometric, relaxed or static stretches before an active workout.

Recall the reasons for a warm up:

  1. Improved elasticity of and increased contraction capabilities of the muscle.
  2. Reduced reaction times via improved neuromuscular connections and transmissions
  3. Higher breathing efficiencies

The goal is improved performance.

Static stretches tend to relax the joints and decrease potential power output, by some estimates up to 8% and impair the activity of the tendon reflexes. Isometric stretches that are held make an athlete tired while at the same time decreasing coordination abilities. Whereas the passive, relaxed style of stretching has a calming effect on the athlete.

A relaxed, non-optimally coordinated joint and muscle tendon combination is just asking for an injury to happen.

If the temperature is low and the forthcoming activity intense, the warm up must be longer and more intense than if the temperature is high, and the session a low intensity one. Each exercise builds on the previous ones until the final effort has the body ready for the main part of the workout.

The specific warm up

This was posted earlier but is pertinent to this page as well and that’s why I put it here again.

As the warm up nears the end, the movements and intensity must approximate the beginning of the main workout. Just because these final movements may be lighter and not as challenging as the main ones to come does not mean less concentration is needed. Do not get into sloppy habits at any time of these warm ups because you learn what you repeat. So repeat it right each time, every time.

A series of warm ups-this is a repeat of an earlier post but these are excellent torso specific warm ups.

Warm up: do this series or something similar before each session of training.

Prior to beginning an upper or lower body training session do a series of dynamic resistance stretches along these lines:

Cardiovascular for one to five minutes-skip rope, ride a bike, or jog in place and then do these immediately after your cardio warm up.

Alternate arm raises upward and forward

Alternate arm rotations

Alternate straight-arm raises to the rear with a spring in the backward motion.

Alternately and at the same time raise the arms to the rear with the elbows bent and then extend them energetically straight out to the front

Limb rotations-move all of your limbs around in giant circles to loosen them up.

Upper body

Shoulder series-do each one 15-20 times

Wide clockwise circles with outstretched arms

Wide counter clockwise circles with outstretched arms

Arms straight to the sides with palms facing the body moving out front and back over head without bending them

Arms bent at 90° and then extended rapidly to the front and back to the 90° starting position

Lower body

Leg swings fore and aft, side to side fifteen to twenty

Rapid split squats

Good mornings fifteen to twenty

Body weight squats-fifteen to twenty


[1] Kurz, T. 2001, Science of Sports Training, Stadion Publishing Co.

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