Warm Ups

Designing Practical Warm-ups for the Overhead Athlete

To give a brief recap, if you missed Stevo's post on Friday: August is dedicated to training means, modes, and methods for overhead athletes (these are sports like baseball, softball, volleyball, swimming, and javelin). 

The pre-practice and pre-competition warm-up is extremely important for any athlete, but to an even greater degree for those athletes who need to give special consideration to the shoulder complex. As a strength coach, I've given numerous warm-up protocols to numerous athletes over the years and while, in a pinch, I could easily produce one that would be well-balanced and comprehensive, I've always preferred to plan my warm-ups in advance.

Preplanning ensures that every muscle, joint, angle, whatever has been taken into consideration and a decision has been made about how to address it for that day (or not). The important thing here being that you must give yourself the chance to make a decision about something ahead of time vs. simply overlooking the area.

Most coaches plan warm-ups on the fly, but like most things at SAPT, we tend not to do what "most" do... that's usually the easy way... and we know the right way! Thus, why we're the premier strength and performance training facility in the Fairfax, Tysons, McLean, Vienna areas.

Getting back to the practical warm-up: Over my time working with college athletes, I ended up developing an ever-evolving template of warm-ups that I would rotate and match to the first 15- to 30-minutes of the practice plan. For example, if the start of practice was going to be ripe with sprinting, the I would choose the plan to match. On the other hand, if practice was starting with quite a bit of hitting (volleyball) where I knew the shoulder needed to be totally warm and ready, then that would inform my warm-up choice.

http://youtu.be/IfJi8KLhtlg

This video is just showing the team warming up... keep that in mind while you watch the power + the height the guys are getting on the ball off one bounce. What's the warm-up look like before this part of the warm-up??? I bet it's a pretty good one.

Anything is an option: body resistance only, bands, medicine balls, actual sporting equipment (i.e. a baseball), weights, etc... Shoot, you can even use a sled/Prowler to do a fantastic total body warm-up that fully addresses the shoulders.

So, when planning a warm-up (or your own set of templated warm-ups) make sure you are addressing all the primary movers and in all directions - planes of motion - plus weaving in extra prehab that may not occur in the weight room and copious amounts of shoulder friendly mobilizations, stabilizations, and drills.

You Want To Be Fast, Huh?

Intern Post By Goose & Josh:

                      Get infinity times faster by going beyond your understanding of speed.

Humans have an addiction to speed. No matter what we do we are never fast enough. Whether it is from running to jets flying over the open sky we build/engineer these bodies to go faster. The question is how do we engineer speed and how do we do it properly? We can break it down into 5 parts strength, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, form, and genetics. Having a firm understanding of these 5 elements will allow you to harness a power that the human race strives to attain.

Strength

Being strong does not mean being able to lift heavy things and put things back down. It is the matter of building a foundation for speed. Without strength speed cannot be accomplished. Strength determines the rate of force development (RFD) meaning how fast your muscles contracts to produce a maximal amount of force. With minimal strength there is low RFD meaning that the muscles in your body will not be able to get you to the finish before the guy that can produce the same amount of force is a shorter period of time. Strength training, done correctly, can and will excel your RFD to the next level.

Strength training is also vital to injury prevention. It is much more beneficial and time efficient for the athlete to prevent and injury versus recovering from one. Resistance training strengthens one’s connective tissue and increases the size and strength of ligament. Strong ligaments especially in areas such as the Achilles are necessary for an athlete to keep running at top speed. The physical stress from resistance/strength also increases bone density, which will help prevent overuse injuries such as stress fractures.

                    Did you know that the Hulk can run at least 215 mph? That is pure strength.

Well some of you also may be thinking, “I lifted once and I got hurt…” Well yes improper lifting can hurt anyone just like improperly can cause stress fractures. Make sure you know exactly what you are doing and if you do not ask people who do. I’ll admit it is difficult to find people who know how to teach lifts properly and this requires research. Well you might be thinking this is a lot of work just to pick things up and put them back down. Let me tell you this, if you truly want to get faster then you will do whatever you can to get it done.

P.S. As strength coaches it is our responsibility to understand that we are responsible not just for making them lift more weights but for the athletes overall health and well being.

P.P.S. If you still are not convinced about building strength and its obvious benefits then check out this great article: http://saptstrength.com/2013/06/17/lifting-running-monster-benefits-an-intern-post/ It should help clear up some doubts.

Cardiovascular Endurance

What’s the point of running fast if your heart cannot keep up? Cardiovascular endurance determines how long your heart rate can pump at a high rate. The heart is the most important muscle in your body and without it there is no life, thus no speed. To have a healthy heart can mean to add more years to your life, which means more time to go fast!

Yes sure a healthy heart is great and goes without saying, but honestly how does this effect my force production to create more SPEED!? Well let’s put it this way, your heart pumps blood through out your body right? Well that includes your muscles too. What muscles need in order to function is oxygen. Well guess what is in the blood going to your muscles, OXYGEN!

So that being said if your heart poops out and pumps less blood after 10 seconds, your muscles start getting less and less oxygen. If your muscles are not getting enough of oxygen then the they will have a much harder time contracting thus = less force production. So the longer the heart can pump blood without straining the longer your body can propel itself at full speeds.

Having strong cardiovascular endurance is also vital for recovery between your bursts of intense speed. The aerobic energy system is responsible for full recovery between bouts of sprints, so that you can sprint fast on each successive sprint rather than seeing drops in performance. It clears out metabolic byproducts of anaerobic work such as CO2. Clearing out the waste allows for ATP to be produced and ATP is what we use for energy to create explosive speed.

             Long story short DON’T skip cardio day! Never know when a zombie will show up

Muscular Endurance

    The body derives its energy from three different energy systems, the Phosphagen, Anaerobic, and Aerobic Systems. Generally speaking the Phosphagen System provides energy for all out efforts lasting 6 to 15 seconds, depending on the nature of the activity. Meanwhile the Anaerobic System provides the energy for submaximal bursts of speed lasting 30 seconds to2 minutes. Finally the Aerobic System provide a low but constant flow of energy for long lasting activities such as distance running. Whenever you exercise all three of the energy systems are turned on however the amount of energy you get from each one varies depending on duration, intensity, and the nature of the activity.

When sprinting you primarily rely on the Phosphagen System and the Anaerobic System for energy. The Aerobic system is being utilized during the activity but its main role is providing energy for recovery. This is why it is important to have a strong cardiovascular system, it’ll help you recover faster so you can sprint for longer. Muscular endurance training teaches your body how to push the limits of these energy systems and how to recover faster. This can be done through interval workouts, fartleks, hills, and bleacher/stair workouts. By continuously putting a high energy demand on your body and teaching it to keep working under stressful conditions you are actually pushing your Lactate Threshold back further and further.

Your body naturally produces lactate throughout the workout but when you do high intensity muscular endurance workouts you get to a point when the lactate overwhelms the system which gets rid of it. Once lactate production exceeds the removal capacity of the body it starts to accumulate in the blood stream. This is bad news because it interferes with the production of energy by the 3 systems I mentioned before. This begins the downward spiral to you ending up on the ground with vomit all over yourself. During workouts you push your body to its Lactate threshold but not passed it, this paired with your body’s awesome ability to adapt to new stresses over time will keep pushing the threshold further back. This is how people “get in shape”, they constantly put stress on the body which causes it to adapt until the previous level of stress is no longer as challenging.

Mental Toughness! My personal definition of mental toughness is being able to push yourself to do what you have to do even when it hurts. My favorite example of this is the 400m dash. The 400 meters is a great but terrible race for no matter who you are/how fast you are the last 100 meter are ALWAYS going to hurt. The high school scrub who runs 53 seconds and the all-star who runs 46 seconds are both hating life during that last straightaway. The difference being that the all-star has taught himself to ignore the pain and maintain form, meanwhile the scrub is thinking too much about the burning in his quads while his arms flail everywhere and everyone flies by. It’s the mental fortitude to ignore how tired you are and being able to remain focused on the task at hand that separates champions from benchwarmers. Only by constantly putting your body in this tired state, through running workouts, and testing your mental fortitude will you get tougher.

                                           Only the toughest person wins the race!

Form

    The reason why coaches are such sticklers about form is because bad form sacrifices efficiency. There’s a reason why all the fast people on TV look the same when they run! Good form allows you to use you’re body’s levers to your advantage and to properly direct the force you’re putting on the ground. In layman’s terms, it lets you do work while expending less energy. This makes the difference in the end of the race/game when everyone is tired. Whoever has the most energy left will win 9 times out of 10. The simplest running form drill that will work wonders when performed correctly are:

-A Skips

-B Skips

-High Knees

-Butt Kicks

-Straight Leg Bounds

-Alternating Quick Leg

-Falling Starts

These drills not only work on running form but also coordination. They can do wonders for kids and adults who lack the coordination to run properly.

 

**Front pack = world class times, stragglers = average times, form made the difference!**

Genetics

    As much as I would love to say we are all equal and have the exact same potential, that would be a lie. I’m a firm believer in genetic superiority. We all knew that guy in high school or college that had the drive to work hard but barely improved every season. On the flip side, we all had that friend who never tried hard at all and was still the best on the team. You can only fight your genetics so much! HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve greatness! Sure you may not be a national champion but being All-State or Conference Champ is still pretty awesome. There is still plenty of glory to be had, you just have to go out there and get it! Even if you don’t win but set a personal best, that still means you are now better than you’ve ever been, there should be some small amount of satisfaction there! So what if you’re genes aren’t the best it doesn’t mean you can’t get faster! Odds are you’re not even close to hitting your genetic ceiling, aka you’re body’s full potential. Do work and worry about the factor you can control.

                        **We can’t all be the greatest athlete in the world, but we can try ;)**