Ask any individual or group of athletes, “What’s the importance of warming up?” and you’ll generally get answers like, “Feel a bit sweatier,” “Increase the heart rate a little bit,” “Raise your body temperature,” and possibly “Stimulate central nervous system” (if anyone has done some sports physiology previously).
But here’s the deal: We should no longer be looking for the generic when it comes to warm-ups with our clients or ourselves. The days of doing 5 air squats, 5 press ups and a minute row at whatever stroke rate, really isn’t going to provide the stimulus required to effectively warm up, and it provides little to nothing in the way of coaching opportunities as we stand there and ask clients “how do you feel?”
So what’s the deal with a warm up then?
Firstly it’s an opportunity to develop skill, more precisely skill ON skill. This is a great opportunity to break movements down into distinct patterns and help yourself or your athletes understand how those patterns can build on each other to create more complex movements.
Secondly it can be used to identify your limiting factors. For example, as a coach you can tell straight away how athletes are going to row simply from the amount of hip and torso movement you see during the warm up. You can also feel how you are going to drive by watching how you perform a dead bug drill.
What does this mean for my warm up?
Obviously we need to think back to the original reason for this question ‘Why is it so important?’ the answer should be clear. It is more than just stimulating the nervous system, increasing heart rate, and raising core body temperature.
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