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It is widely accepted that it’s crucial to perform an effective warm-up before training and/or an event for:
An effective warm-up will evoke positive temperature, metabolic, neurological and psychological related effects on the body. Not least increased anaerobic metabolism, elevated oxygen uptake, and movement efficiency. Clearly advantageous for enhancing physical performance.
Effective warm-up routines are not just about easing into an activity slowly and stretching some muscles. There’s much more to it… Fortunately, there are several warm-up strategies, popularized by Strength and Conditioning Coaches, Athletes, and educators, to help ensure all bases are covered. Many of these strategies utilize fancy acronyms to serve as a reminder. RAMP and MSP for example.
Whatever strategy is used, a common set (or tiers) of priorities are typically covered.
Let’s use the RAMP strategy, by Jeffreys (2007), to illustrate an example:
Following this strategy, a typical warm-up should first involve a general low impact and low intensity activity to Raise the body temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate. This doesn’t have to relate directly to the activity ahead. Two to five minutes of low intensity cycling could be used in a football warm-up for example. Alternatively, a slow jog could also be used.
This could also be described as ‘Pre-hab’ movements, which are specific to the activity ahead. A simple example would be to include some controlled push-ups before a Powerlifting Bench Press event. It’s important to include all of the major muscle groups involved in the activity. This could also mean involving ‘pre-hab’ type movements, such as rotator cuff exercises. So for Sports like CrossFit, or Olympic Weightlifting, the shoulder and leg muscle groups are particularly important
Increase the range of motion for the joints that will be used in the activity. This can be thought of as lubricating the joints. Whilst static stretching can be performed, more dynamic stretching is preferable and more effective. In addition, it’s common practice to include stabilization activities too. For example ‘Bird dogs’ for core hip and shoulder stabilization.
This effectively means to ‘Prime’ the body for what is about to happen, and usually refers to the intensity of the forthcoming activity. It’s important to choose movements that are SPECIFIC to the Sport/activity.
Taking the football example further, the inclusion of some low volume fast sprints in the warm-up routine would be wise.
For sports like Weightlifting and Powerlifting, this is where the Athlete would perform their warm-up sets, gradually increasing the load until ready to perform their ‘on stage’ attempts.
In CrossFit type events, this could involve performing a small number of rounds/reps of the event at competition pace - with rest in between. Careful not to include too much volume here. The important things to remember are to use the event movements at event pace.