The Dynamic Warm-Up is an essential precursor to every training session, and it consists of four key components.
First, the warm-up needs to be consistent and easily reproducible. My approach on this has changed over the years. Instead of doing a different warm-up every session, I now do fundamentally the same warm-up sequence, with built-in progressions as the athlete advances.
The second aspect of the warm-up is to use it as a pre-workout evaluation tool. Taking a joint-by-joint approach is typically best, so that each joint and movement can be analyzed for proper range of motion and postural muscle activation.
Third, the warm-up should reinforce the muscles to fire in the correct sequence. Built-in recruitment patterns allow the body to become more efficient in movement. Examples are big toe mobility in dorsiflexion [lifting the big toe] and knee drive to activate the opposite glute muscle.
Finally, the warm-up should increase body temperature. There must be a cardiovascular component so that blood flow can fill the muscles to increase the heat. We know that increasing its temperature allows the body to move more freely and perform at a higher capacity.
I would allot 15 to 25 minutes for the Dynamic Warm-Up. The progression should begin with low-impact movements and finish with high-impact movements. The ability to increase circulation is paramount; it's the basis of the entire preparation warm-up.
Part one of this series focuses on preparing the lower body. Check back next week for the core and shoulder series.
Toe Raise Walks: Begin by performing these for 15 to 20 yards. Hold the heels high and keep pressure on the big toes. Perform this drill forward and backward.
Heel Walks: Emphasize lifting the big toes. This action activates the front muscles of the shins and lengthens the calf muscles.
Ankle Rotations: Rotate on the heel as the toes are lifted, then rotate on the toes as the heels are lifted. This drill engages the muscles under the feet and in the shin area. Perform it in a side-facing position.
Linear Hurdle Step Over: This drill is critical for initiating reflex movements. Once the knee is lifted to a certain level, the opposite glute muscle fires in response. Perform this drill in place over a single hurdle and keep the lifted knee at a 90-degree angle.
Lateral Hurdle Step Over: This works the outside of the hip as it is lifted over the hurdle laterally.
Transition Hurdle Step Over: Stand to the side of the hurdle with the leg rotated outward. Take the leg over the top of the hurdle and reverse the leg back to the original start position.
Linear Lunge Reaches: Step forward into a deep lunge, touch the floor in front of the lead leg and raise the arms vertical from the lunge position.
Lateral Lunges: Perform a Lateral Lunge and reach with both hands, first to the lead leg, then toward the back leg.
Transition Lunges: Perform a Forward Lunge and rotate your arm back behind your body.
Bryan McCall is the performance director for Champions Training Academy [Mount Dora, Fla.], where he oversees all performance training, from youth speed-strength programs to preparing professional NFL, MLB and Olympic athletes.
McCall has worked in the performance enhancement field for the past 11 years. He has also done sport-specific training for the Baseball Factory, the leading scouting organization for elite baseball players; the Dallas Texans, a top-ranked Nike-sponsored soccer club; Nike high school football training camps; and the Texas Advantage Volleyball club, a perennial powerhouse.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock