How Can Warm-Ups Change Before Different Types of Exercise?

In the previous weeks, we discussed the importance of a good warm-up, and how it can positively affect performance. Click here to catch up if you missed the first article, on why a good warm-up is essential for performance.

Last week we discussed the general good components of a warm-up, and the effects they should illicit on the athletes. You can read that article here.

This week, we're going to create an actual, detailed warm-up, and discuss the exercise selection. Let's get into it!

Remember: The warm-up should always be reflective of the training that will follow, and the individual athlete's specific needs. This ensures the athlete's body is optimized for the specific task at hand, and we are time efficient. This means that you can, and should, have different warm-ups for different types of training, and that individual athletes have slightly different warm-up variations! Individualization is maybe the most important factor of successful athlete development.

In order to demonstrate this, let's define what we're warming up for. A typical day of training at Summit would start with skill work (hitting/throwing) followed by work in the weight room. Let's develop a warm-up for each of these bouts of training, to show the differences between the two. Included will be the spaces in which individualization will be placed.

Skill Work / Practice Warm-Up

Q: What body segments and systems are we going to use in order to complete a training session of hitting, throwing, and general practice?

A: All of them. So, let's make sure we get the body ready from head to toe.

Here's what your warm-up might look like. Remember the RAMP protocol discussed previously? It will be included here so we can understand the results each exercise should have on the athlete.

Forward Skips- Raise
Backward Skips- Raise
Sweeps- Mobilize
Straight Leg Walks- Mobilize
Quad Pulls- Mobilize
Lunge w/ Twist- Activate 
Figure 4- Activate
Lateral Lunge- Activate 
10,20,30y Accels- Potentiate

You'll notice several things from this plan.

  1. The "Raise" exercises don't include a 5 min aerobic activity. This is training the wrong system, and, through fast paced dynamic exercises such as these, we can kill two birds with one stone, in half the time.
  2. Essentially, we're going to work to activate and mobilize each segment/movement/ROM of the body, instead of individual muscles. This is to be more time efficient, and work large groups at a time.
    1. In tight athletes, or athletes who have an identified deficiency in an area, this is where we would insert individualized exercises prescribed for that athlete to further work that problem area.
  3. Lastly, the potentiate and excite exercises start general (skaters and sprints) and work toward sport specificity (med balls). This tactic gets the body ready to fire on all cylinders in the sport specific movements (swinging, throwing, running, etc).
    1. We often use the med ball complex as a bridge between warm up and and training. It first functions as a way to get the body moving at full speed, but then can blend into athlete specific patterning work of the swing or throwing motion. IT's a great opportunity to have an athlete work on his mechanics, before even picking up a bat.\

This warm-up Raises the vitals, Activates the muscles, Mobilizes body segments, and Potentiates the neuromuscular system. Our athlete's body is primed, and their mind is also locked into training mode. They can now go train at an optimal level! Once the athlete is familiar with this sequence, it can be completed in 10-15 minutes. This is a short sacrifice for the vast effect it will have on training.

Weight Room Warm-Up

Once an athlete is done with their skill work, they should take a short break to refuel the body, rest momentarily, and relax the mind. Once this is done, it's time to hit the weight room. Let's get their minds locked back in, and their bodies primed before they start training.

Remember: The athlete is pretty well hot and ready to go already, thanks to their first training session. This will alter the weight room warm-up, along with the demands of the weight room. Let's assume it's a total body day. Even so, this warm-up can be knocked out in less than 10 minutes.

  • We can skip the Raise phase because it's already been accomplished.
  • Most of our muscles are already activated, so let's focus on practicing good patterns of our major movements (squat, hinge, etc.)
  • This is a great time for some individualized mobility work.
  • Let's briefly make sure we potentiate/excite to get moving at full speed, in order to implement maximal power production during the lift.

Stick Warm-Up 

F/B Leg Swings- Mobilize
Lateral Leg Swings- Mobilize
OH Squat- Activate
Stick Front Lateral Squat- Activate 
Stick Front Lateral Squat Back and Forth- Activate
Stick Front T Spine Extension- Activate
SL Stick RDL- Activate 

In the weight room, athletes do not just slap their first set on the bar and get after it. They ramp up to their first set, this is where the potentiation would take place during a weight room warm-up.

This brief but effective warm-up will have athletes' minds and bodies ready to get the most out of their time in the weight room. In certain instances (athletes with less experience in the weight room) we may choose to spend more time practicing the patterns of the major movements. For advanced athletes, the LB plyo section may blend into a short speed/acceleration segment, which will improve gains in the weight room, and help with carrying over to the field.

Now that we've seen the nitty-gritty details of the warm-up, the next step is to understand how it all fits into a practice plan. Tune in next week for a full day's programming at Summit Sport Performance!

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