120521 Incorporating an efficient warm up into your strength training program part 2 of 3

120521 Incorporating an efficient warm up into your strength training program part 2 of 3

Preface to the article

Due to the Covid-19 virus, I was offered the opportunity to take a leave of absence from my school district which is in a hybrid learning situation. Based on many factors, including the most important, that of taking care of our grandchildren while their Dad and my wife are working, I took the leave of absence from my school district.

I am hopeful that come next September and with the vaccine being available I will be back in the weight room with my great students.

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 warmup 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.

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as a warm up because there is NO technique in any sport that is similar or can be improved by doing these outdated exercises.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[2] 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 such as arm and leg rotations to the front, side, rear and in large circles.

Do more leg rotations during this time than arm rotations because of the 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 muscles
  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. Holding Isometric stretches 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, which is just the opposite of what an athlete needs before a competition.

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.

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

[2] This may also be called an ipsilateral movement.