The warm up. I can count myself amongst the many people who regarded warm ups as an annoying waste of time before the real work begins. I would roll about on the foam roller then go through the dynamic warm up with sloppy form and if there was barbell work I would get through this as quickly as possible. Then I realised something. It was my attitude to the warm up that was making it a waste of time. By having a poor attitude and therefore no regard for what I did prior to the next phase of the workout I was basically wasting 15 minutes of my workout going through the motions. I was preaching one thing as a coach and practising something completely a different.
Here’s what I did, I stopped thinking of it as a warming up, because warming up implies that it’s sole purpose is just to raise body temperature. Instead I think of the warm up as priming. Priming my body and also my mind for optimum performance.
· Foam rolling - I actually used for it’s intended purpose to find some areas of tightness and work on them for brief period to help improve movement prior to training. If you’re doing this only spend 30-45 seconds per area and only on 1 or 2 key areas required for that days training.
· Dynamic warm up – I put a focussed effort into each movement. Making sure I move as well as possible over the full range of motion with the best form I can manage. I need to prime my body and also my CNS (central nervous system), get my mind and body in the correct state for what’s ahead.
· Barbell/Movement prep – This is the perfect time to really focus on good form. You are working with a light weight and at a low intensity. Use every rep as a chance to go through key elements of that movement. The coach has the whole class completing the same movements so if you have questions now is a great time to ask coach. This continues throughout the pre-loading phase of the strength and metcon. This will also help you identify what loading/scaling you should be using for the work.
Applying the mentality of priming rather than warming up has made a real difference to my performance and I think some of it is my body being more prepared but the I believe most of the benefit is the getting my mind in the right state for the rest of the session. Starting from minute 1 with great intent and purpose carries over benefits for the entire session.
Do I still have days where I go through the motions, of course but these are fewer and farther between than before and nearly always result in a less than stellar performance. Go into your next workout with the right mindset from minute 1 and see where it takes you.