Before a training session

Author: Jujimufu

Written: 2008

A warmup is what you do in preparation for a training session.

A proper warmup will increase performance, minimize injuries, and facilitate recovery.

A bad warmup will waste your time. Jogging and static stretching are poor warmup choices. Why? While jogging does raise your core temperature and induce blood flow (which are positive effects), it's inspecific to the training task and energy system: Futile. Static stretching suppresses the central nervous system (bad); Afterall, we want to stimulate it. Cross those two of your list (I did five years ago and have never missed them).

Good training preparation includes the following:

Visualizations, trigger point work and foam rolling, prehabilitation/activation movements, dynamic movements, easy tricks. In that order. Divide these items into three stages before your session:

Preparation > Pre warm up > Warm up

Preparation (10 minutes)

This is you getting ready for your session. Call your friends, pack your bags, load up your car, mix up training elixirs, ingest strong stimulants, put on clothes (maybe sunscreen), evacuate bowels, etc.

Pre warmup (10-20 minutes)

Doing visualizations before arriving at the training location will have a profound impact. Whatever your goals for the training session are, imagine yourself in both first and third person perspective nailing them. Psychological warmup. Build the anticipation! Get psyched!

Trigger point work is amazing, now is the time to do them. T-nation has a fantastic article on it here.

Activation movements are used to activate dormant muscle groups or prime movers to prevent injuries and increase performance. They are used based on individual needs, but for the sake of accessibility I'm going to toss my general favorites in this article. For your own use, think of your own problems (ex: knee pain or weak ankles) and google for rehabilitation protocols and dig out some exercises. Also run a search for prehabilitaiton and injury prevention articles.

Okay, here are some movements that fit especially well into a warmup:

Warmup (10-20 minutes)

Dynamic movements include any of the dynamic stretches included in my flexibility tutorials, basic jumps, eclectic sprints or speed movements, etc. You are getting ready for fast action!

Easy tricks, this is self explanatory. I almost always start with the backflip, as its the best all around easy warmup trick. Start with what's easy for you! Finally, progress to your full potential.

Some warm up logic

A proper warmup will increase performance because it adjusts you to the stresses of your training session (duh). You don't need to be skeptic about this, just try out the protocol I laid down above for yourself and see how you feel.

Now, this business of minimizing injuries. Anyone who's suffered a trauma injury or has a chronic pain assosciated with tricking can attest to the value of a warmup. I've suffered a crushing knee pain (patellar tendonosis) in my left knee for years now and I cannot trick some days if I do not spend the necessary time in preparation. The injury works like this: If I screw up only one time, land a trick short or bork a take off, I will not be able to trick for the rest of the day. It does not take much to set it off. Coordination and care go into consideration here. The logic is the following: (1) Coordination needs time to warm up. (2) Without coordination there is greater room for error. (3) When I make a slight error my knee feels like it's receiving a blow by a hammer.

Finally, how can a warmup facilitate recovery? First, get over the notion that recovery only takes place after a training session. It also takes place before the next training session! I'm not trying to be clever, I'm serious: Some of the items I included in the above warmup protocol are excellent for patching muscle imbalances and referred pain, specifically the foam rolling and the activation exercises. Doing these before your training session will help facilitate recovery from your previous session.

What about a cooldown?

Don't waste your time "cooling down." However, because static stretching doesn't fit into the warmup and is better trained when you are already warmed up, static stretch after you trick.

Some notes on departure

I don't always have the time to do this full warmup protocol, but I always do the dynamic movements and start out with easy tricks or lighter weight (if I'm lifting). Also, I never actually do a set warmup. While my warmups do follow this general order, I do different exercises depending on what I feel I need the most. Anyway, my goal for writing this article was only to share with you some new tools to toss in your warmup. I encourage you to try the full list of items I've provided at least once! You'll probably be amazed!