Developing an Effective Warm-up

Developing an Effective Warm-up

Warm-ups are important. It’s a pretty simple statement… but why? An effective warm-up supports enhanced session performance, reduced injury risk and psychological readiness. It is easy at times as coaches to overlook or not put in as much effort into writing the warm-up as the training or practice plan. In this article we will cover the benefits of an effectively structured warm-up, give a simple outline to developing your own warm-ups and show you what we do at EForce.

The Role Of The Warm-Up

When we think about warm-ups and their benefits the first two things that typically come to mind are enhancing the athletes' performance during the session and reducing the likelihood of injury. Recent research has continued to support these ideas. A 2018 systematic review found that short active warm-up strategies ranging between 10 – 15 min that gradually increase in intensity can support increased physical outputs. Another systematic review done in 2017 found that the FIFA 11+ warm-up program reduced injury risk by 30% in the players that utilized it.

While the research supports these outcomes, from anecdotal experience, one additional benefit we believe the warm-up serves is in increasing an athlete's psychological readiness. For us, the warm-up allows athletes time to touch base with their coach, teammates or training partners. It serves as a time to get the small talk out of the way so that athletes are more mentally engaged once the workout starts. For this reason we don’t get too worked up and often encourage small talk during the warm-up.

Black man with black shirt doing exercise

The RAMP Protocol & General to Specific

When developing an effective warm-up we like to utilize two overarching frameworks; the RAMP Protocol and moving from general to specific.

The RAMP Protocol:

This framework operates as a system for organizing and classifying exercises/methods that we implement. It is an acronym that stands for:

Raise: body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and joint viscosity.

Activate & Mobilize: simulate/increase engagement and tone of specific muscles and increase range of motion in specific joints.

Potentiate: prime the nervous system or other body systems while gradually increasing intensity in preparation for the workout.  

General to Specific:

The next framework we use is having our warm-ups flow and transition from general exercises/methods to specific exercises/methods. As an example we may use various general means during the Raise portion of the warm-up like biking, rowing or mixed locomotive patterns; while in the Potentiate portion we may use a set of sprint drills and build-ups to prepare for a speed session.

**Note - the goal is for the end of our warm-up to look very similar to the beginning of our workout**

Building Out A Warm-Up

Now understanding the role an effective warm-up plays in athlete preparation and the frameworks to organize the warm-up... let’s put it all together. Below I’ve provided a table that overlays the above concepts and gives an example of how it would apply to a linear speed session.

General to specific chart
Group of man in a training facility

How We Warm Athletes Up

In an effort to continue being transparent, we’ve provided an example of our general standard dynamic warm-up. You will see that for us, we combine the Raise/Mobilize portion of the warm-up together and also combine the Activate & Potentiate portion together. Our GENERAL portion on the EForce Warm-Up seen below takes 7 min, which leaves us 3 min to incorporate more Potentiation work into our SPECIFIC portion of the EForce Warm-Up (not shown).

Eforce performance warmup program

Taking the time to develop an intelligent warm-up utilizing the frameworks and template outlined above will support enhanced session performance, reduced injury risk and psychological readiness.

If you’re an athlete looking to optimize every aspect of your training and development process. Look no further than EForce Performance!!

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