During my first track practice freshman year at Villanova University, the coach gathered everyone together and one of the first things he asked was, “Why do we warm up?” We all stood around and looked at each other until someone looked to coach and hesitantly said, “To get warm.” We all laughed a little as this seems like a far too obvious response but this was the exact answer my coach was looking for. Every practice involved at least 45 minutes of drills and dynamic stretches before we even started our workout on the track. These warm ups had a desired purpose and outcome in order to better prepare us for the workout that day.
Now think about how easy it is to get stuck just going through the motions of the warm up when coming in the gym day and day out. For some, the warm up begins to feel more like a chore or a nuisance. However, it is there to help us get even more out of the WOD that day. Our body needs this adjustment period as a transition from a state of “rest and digest” to “fight or flight.” Think about jumping from a cold pool into a hot tub. Jumping right in provides a major shock to the system. On the contrary when we start with our feet and let our body adjust to hot water and slowly settle in it provides a much more comfortable experience because your body has an opportunity to adjust.
Missing intensity in a warm up or skipping it entirely effectively turns that first 5 minutes of your WOD into your warm up, therefore sacrificing performance and raising potential for injury. That all sounds nice but I hate reading and much prefer bullet points anyway. Below are just some of the goals and effects of a proper warm up:
Increase blood flow to the extremities
Elevate heart and respiratory rates
Raise core temperature – “sweat a little”
Increase range of motion in our joints
Stimulate sympathetic nervous system – “Fight or flight”
Reinforce proper movement patterns you will see in the WOD
Simple changes you can do to add a little extra focus and intensity to any warm up are things such as making quicker transitions to your next movement, doing faster burpees, making sure your shoulder dislocates are full range of motion (ROM) without bent elbows or mixing in some jumping jacks while others are finishing. Try adding appropriate intensity and duration to your warm up and see how your next WOD feels. Remember, friends don’t let friends skip warm ups!
Greatness is a Choice...