“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of those tips that will kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expenditure of time or money. How are you going to reach your goals?
Today’s tip to enhance your performance is #30: Perform HOT by warming up
Many of the athletes I interact with take a warm-up for granted, if they do one at all. They loiter on poolside chatting before swim practice and stand still awaiting instructions before run training.
Look at your favorite pro sports team or athlete before they compete or train. Look at the focus and attention they put into warming up. There are many theories on how to warm-up but the benefits of warming up before intensive exercise are well-established:
- Injury prevention
- Warmed muscles can contract and relax at faster speeds
- Improved range of motion
- Increase the heart rate to exercise levels
- Improve blood flow and oxygen utilization of muscles
- Mentally prepare for the workout
- Faster recovery post-workout
It is worth investing time in a good warm-up. An extra five minutes of quality warm-up can help you perform far better in practice and lead to much improved racing times.
Of course, a warm-up does not have to take a long time – focus on quality and tailor it to the practice ahead, e.g. if you are doing some sprinting make sure you build into speed work during the warm-up.
Warming up can include high quality technique work in the form of drills, which over the long term will improve efficiency…all while you warm up for the day’s session!
Have I made my point about quality above all? 🙂
Many warm-up options exist:
- Jogging: light jogging as a gentle warm-up
- Technique drills: e.g. single leg cycling on a bike trainer, pull and kick in the pool
- Dynamic stretching: As opposed to static stretching where you hold stretches these are movement-based, e.g. arm swings, lunges, leg kicks, squats
- Higher-intensity work: build into faster work in order to get your body used to higher intensity, e.g. 25m sprints in the pool, gradually increase your reps from 90 to 100 rpm on the bike, fast feet and build to sprint while running
Sample elements of warm-ups:
- Cycling: Light pedaling, gradually increasing rpm’s. Can include single pedal drills practicing good technique and posture (alternate left and right for 5 minutes total). Spin up cadence pyramids (increasing from 80 rpm-100/110 rpm and reduce back down).
- Run: light jog for 5 mins, introducing dynamic stretching (butt kicks, lunges, hip activators, squats, “fast feet shuffle”) and then adding short runs of increasing speeds building from medium to fast to sprints over short distances.
- Swim: Initial aerobic swims (e.g. 3×200 swim, pull, kick) then drills (eg 8 x 50) and into sprints (4 x 25 build each length to fast + 4×25 increasing speed with #1 fast and #4 fastest).
Tailor your warm-up to what makes you feel good. Ultimately a warm-up is subjective and you should include those exercises that prepare you to perform well in training.
As the season progresses, refine the warm-up and keep in mind what you will do to warm up on race day. What will give you confidence to go out and dominate the race? It all adds up to stronger performances in training throughout the season and ultimately on race day – all for a little focus during a warm-up.
How do you warm up?
The “31 Easy Tips” Series:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert
#4: Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24: Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#27: Race-day training
#28: Visualize Victory
#29: Invest in Recovery