170815 A detailed look at the warm-up

A detailed look at the warm-up

All sports activities requiring muscular exertion benefit from a warm-up. A warm-up is a multifaceted series of organized physical exercises used to prepare an athlete for competition or a training session. Ideally, this preparatory phase will accelerate the adaptation of the body to the upcoming activity. This precompetitive/training session phase leads to improvements in performance both in the gym and on the field of play.

Physiologically, the warm-up transitions the body from a non-active status into an intense activity. This requires a certain amount of time to complete and involves the autonomic nervous system[1] and the central nervous system[2] (CNS). Therefore, the warm-up portion prior to competition or training should be efficient in preparing these two systems.

A thorough warm-up consists of three parts: general, dynamic stretching of the upper or lower torso, and movement specific.

The general portion activates the secretion of hormones that mobilize the glycogen reserves within the body and stimulates activity of the blood, blood vessels, heart and lungs. This increases blood temperature and intensifies the abilities of the capillary system in the heart, lungs, and muscles. This ensures adequate energy, through the blood supply, to all of the working muscles. The emphasis, in this part of the warm-up, is on the cardiovascular components of the body.

This activity of the autonomic nervous system increases the nerve center sensitivity, thereby raising the responsiveness of the respiratory and heat regulating centers in both the cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems within the body. After making these physiological changes in the athlete, it is time to move on to more movement specific exercises, where engrams[3][4] are developed. An engram makes possible non-conscious, non-thought based, instant active or reactive movements.

The next phase of the warm-up consists of dynamic stretching of the upper, mid, and lower torso. This is not the time to be doing any type of static stretching. Doing so will limit your body’s ability to produce maximal force by up to 8%. The purpose of this portion of the warm up is to loosen up the joints but not make them so loose that they become lax as happens with static stretching. All of the movements should be pain-free and within the individual’s dynamic range of motion.

Moving through these exercises within three to five minutes prepares the athlete for the final portion of the warm-up, which directly involves sport or training session movements.

The final part of the warm-up specifically directs attention toward movement patterns that are integral parts of the sport or the training session. These exercises, performed at a low intensity with a gradual buildup of speed, further prepare the body for the heavier loads later on in the session.

For example if you are preparing for lower body training session, do 5 to 10 minutes of aerobic exercise until a slight sweat appears. Next, move into the dynamic lower torso stretches such as leg swings fore and aft, side-to-side full range of motion good mornings and finally bodyweight squats for 10 to 20 repetitions each.

The final portion of this part of the warm-up will be the actual squat or deadlift, starting out with the bar to groove the technique and then into 50% of the one repetition training maximum, not the competition max. After completing these repetitions, take one, or at the most, two more sets before getting to your final work out weight. Once the warm-up is completed, move up to your workout weight as quickly as possible without spending a lot of time with dinky weights.


Engram development; the vital component to success by Danny M. O’Dell, M.A. CSCS*D

Verkhoshansky, Yuri and Verkhoshansky, Natalia, Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches. Published by Verkhoshansky SSTM 2011, Rome, Italy


[1] http://www2.ivcc.edu/caley/107/lectures_unit_3/ans.html

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is an involuntary division of the nervous system that consists of motor neurons (autonomic neurons) that conduct impulses from the brain stem or spinal cord to cardiac muscle, smooth muscle and glands. These motor neurons are responsible for regulating heart rate, regulating peristalsis (smooth muscle contraction of the digestive organs), and the release of secretions from certain glands, such as the salivary glands in the mouth.

[2] http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2667

The central nervous system is that part of the nervous system that consists of the brain and spinal cord. Her

[3] :a hypothetical change in neural tissue postulated in order to account for persistence of memory—also called memory trace

[4] “An Engram is an effect or performance that is imposed upon the Central Nervous System through repetition. From Therapeutic Exercise for Athletic Injuries, Houglum. P.A. Human Kinetics 2001”[4]

100815 Engram development; the vital component to success

Engram development; the vital component to success

Exercise technique is something most professional trainers preach. But does anyone ever wonder why? After all it is common knowledge that more weight can often times be lifted if it’s ‘cheated’ up, and more reps can be performed if some of them are ‘cheated’ at the end of the set. So what is the big deal about technical proficiency? The big deal is this: ability, longevity, and injury free movements result from learning and practicing good habits.

Instructing and practicing proper form in all aspects of exercise will enhance an individual’s ability in the long term. Technically correct exercise movement patterns decrease the risk of injury due to poor body mechanics, and improper muscle substitutions.

‘Practice makes perfect’ only if it is truly perfect, consistently, time after time. Otherwise, practice, good or bad, makes permanent.

With proper instructions from the coach/trainer, the activity should become more accurate as the athlete makes the adjustments in form. The effort used to complete the movement tends to decrease and there is “less chance of overflow to the wrong muscles”[1] in the process. However, this pattern must be repeated many times to establish the neuromuscular pathways.

A technically correct and repetitive exercise movement effectively develops a pattern of movement called an ‘Engram’. By definition, “an Engram is an effect or performance that is imposed upon the Central Nervous System through repetition.”[2] The advantage of developing these pathways translates into the activity becoming an automatic unconscious process.

Exercising under a heavy load without having to think about ‘how to lift’ allows the subconscious to take over when the going gets rough. The athlete no longer has to think where their feet are placed, how to begin the move, when to breathe, which muscles to tighten and which ones to loosen in order to make the lift.

It is automatic IF the Engram has been previously developed

[1] Therapeutic Exercise for Athletic Injuries Houglum. P.A. Human Kinetics 2001

[2] Ibid

050815 Men and women truly are different in their respective display of heart attack symptoms

Men and women truly are different in their respective display of heart attack symptoms.

It doesn’t take much of an expert to notice the differences between a man and a woman. However, there are subtle differences that can mean the difference between life and death when it comes to a heart attack. The Cleveland clinic has listed a number of symptoms that men and women tend to experience during a heart attack.

In non-alphabetical order, we begin with the signs of a heart attack in women. These symptoms are “less dramatic and are frequently mistaken for less serious medical conditions. Not only are these symptoms subtle they will vary widely, especially in women, diabetics, and older people.

Women with the following symptoms should seek immediate medical attention, these are quoted verbatim from the Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor information sheet.

  1. Upper back or shoulder pain
  2. Jaw pain or pain that radiates to the jaw
  3. Pain that radiates to the arm
  4. Pressure or pain in the center of the chest
  5. Nausea or queasiness and indigestion
  6. Shortness of breath or feeling “winded”
  7. Unusual fatigue for several days
  8. Lightheadedness

Men tend to experience the following during a heart attack:

  1. Chest pressure growing in frequency and intensity or one to three days (unstable angina). This is often described as a squeezing sensation
  2. Pain in the left arm, shoulder, neck or jaw that may or may not stem from pain in the center of the chest. It also may occur in the right arm
  3. Pain in the abdomen that may be mistaken for indigestion
  4. Sweating, restlessness and anxiety
  5. Dizziness, faintness and heavy pounding in the chest
  6. Shortness of breath
  7. Disorientation (more common in the elderly)
  8. Nausea or queasiness (more common in women)

The final piece of important information the Cleveland Clinic heart advisor makes it very plain is when they say quote if you think you’re having a heart attack – for any reason – don’t wait. Call 911 or have someone take you to the nearest emergency room.

Lifestyle changes that help protect you from a heart attack

  1. If you smoke, stop. Eliminate all smoking and use of any type of tobacco products from your life. The chemicals in the tobacco and the carbon monoxide in the smoke damage the heart and blood vessels. There is absolutely nothing good about using tobacco.
  2. Regular exercise is a defense against an assorted array of health issues. Work up to a minimum of thirty minutes of exercise each day.
  3. Watch your diet. By eating a heart healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats (not saturated fats or trans fats), cutting back on the amount of red meat and processed foods in your daily meals your helping your body to heal itself.
  4. Stay at a healthy weight. Older adults may have a slightly higher BMI than younger adults and still be healthy.