Planning an Effective Warm-Up
To plan an effective warm-up, the strength and conditioning coach must first understand the mental, physiological, and biomechanical demands of the training session or sport before they attempt to prepare the athlete for these precise demands. In most circumstances, these demands are identified during the need analysis.
For example, if a strength and conditioning coach is planning a warm-up for some 1-repetition maximum (1RM) testing, then they might want to consider what the mental, physiological, and biomechanical demands of that session are. For mental preparation, the coach may encourage the athletes to arrive well-rested and to bring personal self-motivating music to listen to whilst testing – as this has been repeatedly shown to improve performance (24). To prepare them physiologically, the coach may adopt a warm-up routine with mimics’ similar physiological demands to 1RM testing, such as high-force/strength, long-rest exercises. In terms of biomechanical preparation, stretches, dynamic movements and exercises similar to those being performed during testing would be appropriate (e.g. back squatting).
Alternatively, if a strength and conditioning coach is designing a pitch-based warm-up for a ‘short and sharp’ technical session for football (soccer), then the warm-up should be designed specifically for that session and therefore may look very different to the previous 1RM testing example. The mental preparation may likely be very different, as the players’ mental readiness may be stimulated by competing against other players – as an example. Physiologically, if the technical session demands high-work volumes with short recovery periods, and thus a high cardiovascular demand, then the warm-up should aim to produce similar or even replicate the intensities the athletes will be exposed too. From a biomechanical standpoint, the adopted movements should have biomechanical similarities to the movements which will be prevalent during the technical session. This may include things such as lunges, directional changes, jumping, and twisting movements.
Remember that the warm-up can be structured effectively and strategically using the RAMP protocol and that the content/ exercises should replicate those of the session the athletes are preparing for.