Thursday, April 11, 2013

Warm-ups And Stretching


When the time comes to prepare the body for a workout, most trainees fall into one of two groups.

1.   People who know they should warm-up and stretch but dont do it.

2.   People who do warm-up and stretch but instead of doing so in a manner that enhances the workout, they work against the body and end up hindering the workout.

A proper warm-up and stretching routine can undoubtedly be advantageous if done properly.  In fact, I believe the proper warm-up coupled with the correct stretching program can enhance your results substantially. We all know you cant make progress when you’re injured.

Warming Up For Athletic Performance

When people warm-up and stretch they usually start off by doing 5-10 minutes of low intensity cardiovascular activity like jogging or cycling followed by a few stretches to prevent injury.  Actually there isnt any solid research to support this approach.  When you warm-up for a strength or power session by performing several minutes of light cardio you activate and fatigue the lower threshold type I muscle fibers.  This approach actually can wear you out before you ever start your workout. A better approach is to warm your body up using movements similar to those movements youll use in your
training session, while at the same time stressing range of motion and dynamic flexibility.

To enhance range of motion and develop the required flexibility youll need to focus on dynamic flexibility rather than static   Dynamic flexibility is the ability to move a joint through a full range of motion using muscular assistance or with movement.  Throwing a kick above your head is an example of this.  You can also call this type of flexibility “active flexibility.” Static flexibility is the ability to stretch without any momentum or muscular assistance.  Sitting in place and doing the splits is an example of this.  It turns

out there isnt always a good correlation between static flexibility and dynamic flexibility.  That is, you might not be very flexible when doing the splits (static flexibility), yet still might be able to kick well above your head  (dynamic flexibility). The reverse can also be true.  You might see someone with very good static flexibility, yet not very good dynamic flexibility.

Whats more, performing static flexibility prior to a workout has been shown to lead to a decrease in strength and power in that workout.  Healthy muscles remain at optimum contraction length in a resting position. When you stretch them, you cause them to go
into a sub-optimal contraction length, hence weakening the fibers (temporarily). Don't get me wrong, static stretching has benefits, just not when done before you are going to call upon a muscle to perform at peak output levels. So save your static stretching for after your workout. Too much static flexibility work can also have a negative influence on reactive strength.  An overly flexible muscle-tendon complex can dampen the reactive reflex.

Since the type of flexibility you need whenever you jump and run is dynamic, I recommend you focus the majority of your time in achieving optimal dynamic flexibility. Some static flexibility work can be beneficial, but it should only be done after your workout and never before.  The following dynamic flexibility workout will greatly assist you in achieving and increasing the range of motion necessary to have awesome jumping ability speed.  This warm-up and dynamic stretching routine takes less than 10 minutes and not only will it serve to get you good and warmed up, but it will also allow you to improve your dynamic flexibility.  Perform it prior to plyometric or speed workouts.

Over-speed good mornings- With your hands crossed behind your head move like you would if you were bending down to touch your toes.  Push your hips quickly back behind you as your upper body descends down.  Execute the movement in a quick manner performing 15-20 repetitions per set.

Dynamic Lunges forward- Step into a deep lunge position then back and repeat with the other leg.  Perform 10 reps with each leg.

Dynamic lunges side to side- Instead of lunging forward lunge to the side while keeping your upper body facing forward.  Perform 10 reps each direction.

Wide stance speed squat- Take a very wide stance and sit back into a deep squat position. Perform the movement quickly and with an emphasis on stretching the hips. Perform 15-
20 repetitions.

Walk forward heel to toe and touch ground- Walk forward in a straight line with one foot directly in front of the other touching heel to toe.  With each step squat down and tough the ground.  Perform 15-20 repetitions.

Crescent kicks outside to inside- Keeping your leg straight and knees completely locked kick using a high swinging motion from outside to inside.  Perform 5 repetitions with each leg.

Crescent kicks inside to outside- Like the above but instead of swinging your leg outside to inside swing it inside to outside.

Duck under hurdle- Use a real hurdle or imagine a low hurdle and slide under it popping your head up on both sides.  Either go back and forth under it or in a straight line ducking under it for 10 repetitions each direction.

Duck under hurdles with twist- Like the above but imagine a row of hurdles lined up. Duck under one and pop up and face the opposite direction and duck under the next one. Continue in this manner for 10 repetitions.

Butt kicks- run forward 25 yards while swinging your foot up to contact your buttocks. High knees- run forward 25 yards with an exaggerated high knee motion.
Arm circles- swing your arms in exaggerated circles for 20 reps.

Chest flyes- use an exaggerated tree hugging posture swinging your arms forward and backward for 20 repetitions.

Trunk twists- With your arms extended all the way out to your sides simply twist back and forth for 20 repetitions.

Side bends- Using an exaggerated motion bend side to side for 20 repetitions.

Warming Up For a Strength Training Work-Out

A good option when warming up for a strength routine is to simply warm-up with your first exercise. For example, if its squat day, I have people immediately go to the squat rack and start squatting. This is specific preparation for the task at hand. The proper muscles are activated (i.e. warmed) and the proper motor units are fired. Maximal strength is a product of number of Type II muscle fibers and the capacity of your nervous system to activate them. These are the most sensitive of all of your fibers and as you know they are referred to as "high threshold". Treat these fibers wrong and they'll
definitely cause you to lose strength. The following is a list of mistakes you want to avoid and tips for warming up for strength training.

Mistake #1: High Rep Warm Ups- High reps (10 and above) will cause your body to release lactic acid into the blood stream which significantly impairs the nervous system's ability to activate high threshold (think strength) motor units. Keep the reps in your warm up sets at six or below (see examples below).

Mistake #2: Low Set Warm Ups- Knock out 10 reps with the bar, 10 reps with plates on each side, and hit it…right? Wrong! Let your nervous system know what's coming slowly and gradually.  Dont make your body hear the alarm clock and immediately jump out of bed and start lifting! The closer you are working to your one rep max during your
working sets, the more warm-up sets you need. I recommend between 2-4 warm up sets on your first exercise of each session.  Each one of these sets should be performed with progressively heavier weight, but never excessively fatiguing yourself for your main sets. After the initial exercise you may need at most 1 warm-up set just to orchestrate the movement.

Mistake #3: Stretching- Although static stretching of the muscle you’re going to be training during a strength-training session can hinder strength, there is a certain way of static stretching prior to a workout that can actually increase your strength. All you have to do is stretch the antagonist (opposite) to the muscle you are going to use. For example,
if you’re doing a heavy bench press go ahead and stretch the antagonistic muscle, the lats, by hanging in a chin-up position! Squatting heavy? Stretch the hip flexors by getting into a deep lunge position and holding it. You will find that this can temporarily make you stronger by relaxing the hip flexors, which act as antagonists when you jump.

Another thing you can do is, during your specific warm-up, perform reps where you hold the bottom position of a movement.  This will help improve active flexibility.  Sink down” and hold the bottom position up to 10 seconds per rep.  If you have trouble squatting properly due to flexibility issues you might do 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps with a 5 second hold at the bottom of a squat.  Go down a little bit further on each repetition.  Do the same thing on lunges or any other movements that dont feel quite right. This really helps improve specific flexibility and is in fact the only flexibility training that Olympic lifters do and they’re as flexible as gymnasts!

Mistake #4: General Warm Ups- The nervous system picks up patterns, and running on the treadmill, or pedal pushing for 5-10min to "get the blood flowing" or whatever rationale you use does nothing to prepare the C.N.S. for a highly specific task like benching, squatting, rows or any other exercise for that matter (other than running or biking). So do your body a favor and don't waste your energy on something that isn't going to help your body complete the task at hand. If you're going to squat, warm up by squatting, stay away from the treadmill.

Example Warm Up Routines:

    Keep a constant moderate tempo on all reps, about 3 seconds down, 3 seconds up.
    Only perform warm up sets for the 1st exercise per cold muscle group Rest only as long as it takes to change the weights between warm up sets Planned Work Sets- 4 sets of 6 reps @ 225lbs

Warm up set 1: 50% 6RM =110lbs x 6 reps Warm up set 2: 70% 6RM =160lbs x 4 reps Warm up set 3: 90% 6RM =205lbs x 2 reps

Planned Work Sets- 3 sets of 8-10 reps @ 185lbs

Warm up set 1: 50% 10RM =95lbs x 6 reps
Warm up set 2: 80% 10RM =150lbs x 4 reps

Post Activation Potentiation Trick: Ever wonder why in the on-deck circle at a baseball game the batter has weighted donuts on his bat during his warm-up swings? When he steps into the box his bat feels light, therefore increasing swing speed and power output. This little trick can also be applied to your weight training routine for immediate gains in strength.  What you do is add more weight to the bar during your warm-ups then what
you will be working out with.  Go up and above your working weight for 1 rep before dropping back down to your working rep range.  Youll be stronger then you would otherwise.
Example Post Activation Potentiation Warm Up: Planned Work Sets- 3 sets of 8-10 reps @ 185lbs
Warm up set 1: 60% 10RM =110lbs x 6 reps
Warm up set 2: 90% 10RM =165lbs x 3 reps
Warm up set 3: 130% 10RM =240lbs x 1 rep

Working Set 1: 185 x 8-10 reps

The heavier set of 240 lbs will increase the working effect of the 185 lbs set.

Applying these techniques to your workouts will offer the benefits of better workouts, faster progress, and fewer injuries.