Sunday 11.12.11

What's in a Warm Up:

There are many new faces coming into the gym (welcome everyone) who are still trying to figure out the goings on about the Compound and how classes are set up. So lets discuss. Obviously the daily workout is the point of coming to the gym most of the time. However, prior to that, we expect everyone to start the day with a warm up. Whether you get into the gym early or on time, get started on that warm up.

There are several options for warming up:
1) generally the coach will have laid out a warm up on the whiteboard that will prepare you for the day's workout.
2) there are two warm ups, a general and specific (to Olympic Weightlifting), always written on the board in the front.
3) do your own warm up based on your needs and skills.

When it comes to warming up, what are we trying to accomplish? The name itself, meaning to increase body temperature, is certainly one aspect of it. Greg Everett of the Performance Menu wrote article called "Our Warm Up is a Warm Up" mocking a line that many CrossFit fanatics have declared, "Our warm up is your workout." I agree with many of the things Mr. Everett says in this article as to the point of the warm up (however many of his specific warm up routines have to do with Olympic Weightlifting only, so doing everything on his lists everyday may not prepare us for some of our workouts).

In the article, he says an easier way to determine how to warm up is by renaming it "training preparation". Now if we ask what we’re trying to accomplish, it should be obvious: we’re preparing our bodies for the training to follow.

Back to The Compound... The first thing we want to do is Monostructural work. Activities like running, rowing, jumping rope, etc. When I roll out of bed at 4:30 am, sometimes its simply moving the major joints of the body sytemattically from head to toe (i.e: head, shoulder, elbow, hip, trunck circles, twists and leg raises forward, backward, and sideways) as I gab with my training partner for the day. Its purpose is to get some initial body temperature increase and systemic loosening in unusually cold temperatures or for individuals who have been immobile for a long period of time prior to training. This should be low intensity and for about 2-5 minutes depending on need, but not the marjority of the warm up.

Next would be a dynamic warm up.  Here we generally work on partial movements of full movements (I am not opposed to low skilled versions of box jumps, ring dips, or burpees as the article states), to continue to warm up the body and prepare it by working several movements that mimic the same movements seen in the daily workout. For example, if we are squatting heavy that day, my warm up may consist of some bodyweight or extremely light Squats. The Squats would be done slower than normal, not slow enough that you can't work up a sweat, but I want to be able to focus on perfecting the movement during the warm up. The dynamic warm up I do is quite often trying to learn and re-learn movements that I want to improve in and I am always going back to the basics, specifically in the warm up.

Static stretching. Generally I leave my static stretching to after a workout, but generally after the monostructural portion, I may throw it in in conjunction with the dynamic warm up, when I'm feeling a little too tight.

Corrective drills. This is my time to fix areas that I need to work on. I say it constantly to people who want to get pull ups, muscle ups, real push ups, etc. If you don't work on it daily, it won't happen. I recently attempted a warm up where I added weight extended overhead to my GHD sit ups. I found a problem area that I need to fix. My lower back.

Despite a bulging disc in the L4 or L5 ( i can't remember exactly), I have been able to overcome the back pain and strengthen it to the point that all my lifts are heavier and my pain is rarely a concern. But that day, a 10 pound plate over my head placed enough resistance on my lower back to stop me from performing the GHD sit up properly...and it hurt.

But, being stubborn, I continued and just held the weight on my chest, which defeats the purpose of a weighted pull up. So I determined then and there to fis the back issue. My first step is to keep the weight plate extended towards the ceiling, which only causes the ending position of the sit up to have the weight extended overhead. This is still a struggle for me as I did it this week, but even though it is difficult it was also doable for me with correct form.

So get into the gym and warm up. The older, the less flexible, or the more out of shape we are, the more we need to warm up. So get in to class as early as possible and prepare the body for the resistance you are going to put on it.

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