NAME: Kyle Raymond
AFFILIATE: CrossFit Copenhagen
BACKGROUND: Swimming, American Football and Track and Field
CROSSFITTING SINCE: November 2009
TEACHING SINCE: I’ve never been a coach but I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some great coaches in the past and none have been more influential on my philoshpy and approach than my
track coach at the University of Waterloo, Brent Mcfarlane. Brent was the head Olympic Track and Field coach for Canada at the Sydney Olympics and was a member of the coaching staff for the ’88, ’92 and ’96 Olympics.
Since I lack much experience with crossfit and warming up for CrossFit workouts/competitions I thought I would write about warm ups in general and hopefully the main concepts can then be carried over to CrossFit by those who know best.
The main goal of any warm-up is to raise the core body temperature. For track and field most warm-ups begin with jogging (10-15 minutes) but for CrossFit skipping would also be effective and for those who attended the Martin Rooney seminar, the jumping jack sequence and jump sequences would also serve this purpose well. A warm-up should also act as a rehersal for your workout or event. Going back to track, we would perform drills that mimic portions of proper running mechanics. Ideally for CrossFit, your warm-up should include exercises or movements such as bear crawls that mimic the demands and movements of the exercises in the workout.
The track warm-ups that I would perform also included accerlerations with and without blocks at upwards of 95% effort. This is done to take advantage of supercompensation. Supercompensation is a theory (if I remember correctly), that when you place great physical demands on your body, your body will adapt and prepare itself to perform that task again. Ideally there is about a 5-10 minute window where the effects of supercompensation will have an advantageous effect on your performance. This window starts approximately 10-15 minutes after the final stimulus. It is important that you stay warm and don’t allow your body temperature and heart rate to return to normal levels in this time (sitting or laying down) otherwise your warm-up will be for not.
One element that is often not discussed for warm-ups is mental imagery. Although not technically apart of the physical warm-up, mental imagery has an integral role in maximizing one’s performance. When I used to swim, I would picture different scenerios in my head before every race, for example goggle strap breaking. I do the same thing now prior to heavy lifts. I’ll picture the lift in my head as if from my own eyes. Although mental imagery is a skill that needs to be developed, it can play a crucial role in maximizing one’s performance and should be incorporated in one’s competition preparation.
For competitions it’s definitely important to realize that a warm-up is “not” a workout. Although you need to raise your body temperature and ideally would like to briefly raise your heart rate to competition levels a warm-up should not leave you exhausted. The CrossFit affliate where I used to live had the slogan “Our warm-up is your work-out”. To me that just means that they were unable to differentiate where their warm-up ended and where their work-out began.
I do believe that warm-ups can be used to increase ones GPP or overall conditioning during training sessions, but it is also important to rehearse the competition warm-up. The Martin Rooney warm-up is a great example. Initially, his athletes struggled through the warm-up but after 2-3 weeks were able to perform the warm-up in 15 minutes. They then used that same warm-up at the NFL combine. By rehearsing the competition warm-up, you’ll be able to modify the warm-up in case of delays or time restrictions and be able to tweak certain elements of the warm-up to maximize performance. Finally, I would incorporate dynamic stretching into a warm-up in place of static stretching and leave the static stretching for the cool down following the work-out or competition. This is a some what contentious point as some people like to incorporate static stretching in their warm-up. From personal experience I’ve found that static stretching prior to competing/working out has decreased my level of performance and I’ve also suffered more muscle strains/pulls after performing static stretches.