Warming-up is one of those aspects in a training session that people either do on a consistent basis or do minimal movements or none at all. Many people feel as though they warm-up effectively but many actually do not do what is necessary to get the body ready for the work that is about to take place. How many times have you seen an athlete just go through the motions of a warm-up?
Warm-ups have improved over the years. I remember a time when you would do a couple of stretches, some would pretend to actually stretch, run a few laps around a track and get into whatever practice or training you needed to do. Still today you will see many gym goers do some quick stretches before they are off to the races.
If you are going to compete or even if you are just doing a Spartan Race for fun you will need to warm-up.
The main reason we warm-up is to prevent injury. Now many of you are thinking, I never get injured. Most people think of injury as something big, even if you get a small tweak in a hamstring during training you have injured yourself. These small injuries are usually overlooked until they become bigger problems down the road.
Warming-up properly will ensure that you are ready to go not only before your training session but also prior to your races. Besides the prevention of injury, the warm-up can serve several different purposes. These are in no specific order but are of importance nonetheless.
The purpose of the Warm-Up:
1. To Increase Core Temperature: Getting a little sweat going in the warm-up is a great way to start off a training session. Most times people train cold. A warm-up will get the muscle ready for the work to come. Muscles will fire or contract much quicker when they are at a higher temperature. This obviously leads to a better training session or competition.
2. Increase Heart Rate: When performing a warm-up it is key to get your heart rate up. I have completed warm-ups where my heart rate has been between 130-150 BPM. You will see in the warm-up below how fast we can get your heart rate going and waking up your body. Here is a piece of advice that will help tremendously with your training, go out and buy yourself a heart rate monitor. Your heart rate will be your guide to how well you are progressing especially in your conditioning.
3. Introduction to New Movements: This warm-up may introduce you to new movements that you may not have performed before. As part of a warm-up I have included movements that will target weak area in many people. These movements will allow the athlete to improve on their weaknesses, which will help reduce nagging injuries later.
4. Increase Strength: Not only will the inclusion of new movements improve your weak areas, but you will also have the great side effect of training, which would be getting stronger in many areas.
5. Increase Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity: Once you get the movements down of the warm-up presented here you will see how you will begin to flow from one to the other. This will allow you to increase your heart rate that will also help increase your aerobic capacity. The sprinting at the end of the warm-up will also get you anaerobic capacity fired up.
6. Become More Flexible, Mobile and Stable: Our bodies are meant to be flexible in certain areas, mobile in other and stable in yet others. But as time goes on our bodies seem to lack all of the qualities above. A lack in these qualities will eventually lead to an injury. During the warm-up you will be able to see where your weaknesses are. The different ranges of motion performed in the movements will allow your body to improve on its mobility, stability and flexibility. By performing the warm-up you will see how all the qualities will improve and you will become a better athlete.
7. Improve the Function of the Central Nervous System (CNS): The warm-up acts as a wakeup call for the CNS. The connection between the CNS and the muscles become strengthened during the warm-up. If you are doing the movements the right way each and every repetition you will see how easy it will be to acquire new skills as well as become more coordinated with the skills you already possess. If your CNS is firing on all cylinders you will be that much more prepared to perform well in the training sessions or the race that follows.
8. Improve Focus: During a warm-up is a great time to get your head in the game. Obstacle course racing and training are very similar. Your head needs to be in the right place to achieve a high level in either one. The warm-up is a perfect time to begin to focus on the task at hand. During training you not only train your body but your mind as well. While warming-up, focus on positive things and leave all distractions at the door. There is no room for negativity creeping in during training or a race.
Robert DeCillis is a strength and conditioning specialist and a Spartan Group X coach. He coaches athletes from different sports including those preparing for obstacle races. He operates the site http://obstaclecoursetraining.com and is the owner of Training for Warriors Long Island.