Tagged: stretching

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #30: Perform HOT by warming up

“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

Warm up like the pros before your triathlon practice or ironman training

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:

  1. Injury prevention
  2. Warmed muscles can contract and relax at faster speeds
  3. Improved range of motion
  4. Increase the heart rate to exercise levels
  5. Improve blood flow and oxygen utilization of muscles
  6. Mentally prepare for the workout
  7. 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)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!
#27: Race-day training
#28: Visualize Victory
#29: Invest in Recovery

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #30: Perform HOT by warming up

“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

Warm up like the pros before your triathlon practice or ironman training

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:

  1. Injury prevention
  2. Warmed muscles can contract and relax at faster speeds
  3. Improved range of motion
  4. Increase the heart rate to exercise levels
  5. Improve blood flow and oxygen utilization of muscles
  6. Mentally prepare for the workout
  7. 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)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!
#27: Race-day training
#28: Visualize Victory
#29: Invest in Recovery

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #21 Grind it Out on the Foam Roller

How is the “31 Easy Tips…” series treating you? I hope it is helping. Implement one or two things from the list (don’t try to do too much) over the course of a few weeks and track your progress. These tips are elements of triathlon that you might not come to mind, but will contribute to improved performance without significant effort.

Today’s tip is #21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller

Using a foam roller for triathlon recovery stretching fitness

In this case “it” refers to any knot in your muscles. If you have tight or achy muscles a foam roller will help. The nature of triathlon is that we perform the same movements over and over – be it on the bike or while running – and this leads to sore and tight muscles.

You can use it before or after a workout as a form of massage and to break down trigger points in your muscles.

When you start using one, it will likely hurt like hell, so vary the pressure and ease into it, and after a couple of weeks it will hurt less as your muscles loosen up.

There are many benefits to using a foam roller. One major one is injury prevention – I used to have ITB problems but once I started foam rolling I have experienced no issues.

It is the one piece of equipment I recommend before all others. OK, maybe except for a swim suit!

All it takes is 10 minutes a few times a week. Incorporate it into your stretching routine and/or do it in front of the TV. Spend $20-50 on a foam roller and you have access to unlimited free massages!

Previous tips in the 31 Easy Tips series include:

#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

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #16 Do Yoga

The “31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of easy-to-implement tips that provide avenues to improve your performance.

Today’s tip is #16: Do Yoga. All you need is 60-90 minutes and head to the studio for a (hopefully) free intro class.

yoga for triathletes to help swimming, cycling, core strength and running

Try yoga. Or rather *do* yoga, remember, there is no try!

Yoga is great for many reasons:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Recovery
  3. Core strength
  4. Balance
  5. De-stressing

It involves 60-90 minutes of concentration and keeping your focus in the room on each pose. I can be very scatterbrained and the focus required at yoga helps me during a tough set or on race day.

Also, I tend to really have to negotiate with myself to stretch after practice. Attending yoga is like a freebie: get 1 hour+ of stretching, core and flexibility work disguised as a decent workout. If, like me, you struggle to do 10 minutes of stretching after a workout, then yoga could help kill the proverbial two birds!

Give yoga a shot, you’ve got nothing to lose…except your stress!

Previous tips in the 31 Easy Tips series include: 

#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

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #4 Start Stretching

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence is a series of simple, easy-to-implement tips that produce significant gains in performance for minimal effort. While they may not give instant, tangible results (e.g. drinking a glass of water in the morning will not knock 30 seconds off your run time) they will contribute towards improved performance over the course of the season.

Previous tips in the series include:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert

Today’s tip is: Start Stretching

Stretch Armstrong and the benefits of stretching and flexibility

Many people cut corners, convincing themselves they have no time to stretch after working out, instead filling their practice with hard work and a quick warm down.

However, stretching is worth the time invested, even if you cut short your hard efforts by 10 minutes. In addition to relaxing your muscles after a good session, you can:

  • Improve your flexibility: helps with rotation in the pool, tight hip flexors on the bike, a stiff back on the run and overall injury prevention.
  • Alleviate lower back pain: which can be caused by tight muscles in your lower back, hamstrings and hips.
  • Increase your range of motion: which in turn will improve your balance, kick your legs harder on the run, reach further on the swim
  • Reduce general stress levels: by relaxing tense muscles such as your neck, shoulders, jaw wrists, etc. The zen of yoga will help mentally as well as physically too.
  • Improve your posture: as tight, constricted muscles will lead to stooped backs and hunched shoulders. Stretching both loosens and elongates them.

You should also stretch as part of your warm-up – once your muscles are warm, e.g. after a light jog.

Stretching can take the form of static (hamstring stretch while lying on your back), or dynamic exercises such as leg swings and ankle circles.

Finally you can incorporate a foam roller before and after your workout to loosen tight, sore muscles.

So, make like Stretch Armstrong and reap the benefits. Just 10 minutes a day will produce benefits.