280421 Incorporating an efficient warm up into your strength training program part 1 of 3
Previously published in the Washington State Coaches Magazine
Simply running in place or pulling your leg behind the back doesn’t cut it this portion of an exercise session. Moreover, it certainly does not prepare your body for any competitive sport at all! The warm up must get the body ready to perform effectively and efficiently at its peak. Doing so requires attention to raising the heart rate, preparing the nervous system, the muscles, tendons, joints and the ligaments that hold it all together.
Expected and specific outcomes resulting from the warm up
Improved elasticity of and increased contraction capabilities of the muscles, raising the efficiency of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, reduced reaction times via improved neuromuscular connections and transmissions, focused concentration, improved coordination and perception abilities, emotional state normalization particularly before a competitive event takes place.
According to Sozanski, the warm up regulates the emotional status due to the flow of impulses from the motor and sensory nerve centers to and from the working muscles by calming down an overly excited nervous system.
In the case of one who is apathetic (start apathy) to the upcoming event, the correct type of warm up stimulates the nervous system. For example, these individuals need simple, fast paced, easy exercises, requiring fast reactions, coordination and agility while performed in an energetic manner.
If the intensity of the workout is high then the warm up will, of necessity, be longer. Longer warm up periods would be in order for the explosive sports endeavors such as sprinting and the more difficult technical sessions. Aerobic and endurance exercise periods need much less, as the pre stages of these activities are in and of themselves a warm up activity.
Just as certain exercises are more appropriate to specific athletes, certain warm-ups are also appropriate to certain individuals. If the athlete is overly excited, their warm up process would involve slow complex exercises requiring precision of movement, but ones that are well known and familiar to the athlete. The warm up session starts with exercises that are low in intensity, progressing up to the actual work out movements. Starting with high intensity exercises leaves little left in reserve for the main work out. The body quickly uses its stored muscle glycogen and increases the lactate levels in the blood when engaged in high intensity work. When the lactate increases, the free fatty acids decrease, leaving less to help produce energy.
Normally, you wouldn’t get into your car on a cold morning and go racing out the drive way and onto the expressway at maximum speed. It’s the same for our bodies; warm them up for the tasks ahead.
Repeating the same warm up in successive workouts is not beneficial to the athlete as the goals of each workout are not necessarily the same, thus the warm up should reflect the workout goal. The warm up should prepare the athlete for the workout; bearing this in mind the last minutes of the warm up will be more or less specific to the first training exercises and ultimately blend into the actual workout itself. After the session has started, precede each different movement by its own specific but short warm up throughout the period.