Here is a warm up menu for flexibility and injury prevention I have developed over the years.
We always spent 12-20 minutes in warm up and injury prevention drills prior to the work out.
My last few years in college we had NO major surgeries in any sport – any athlete.
That was a very proud event for our staff.
Foot Work Drills – Pick 1-2
# 1 Ladder Drills –
L1 Shuffle R/L Scissors R/L Hop Scotch
L2 Qtr Eagle R/L Crossover R/L Carioca R/L
Do Each 1X
L3 Ins & Outs R/L Over & Backs R/L Icky Shuffle
#2 Line Hops
L 1 In – Place X20 Scissors Skiers Front to Back
Hammer R/L Hammer Crossover R/L Lateral Hop
R/L Front/Back Hop Qtr Eagle R/L *180-240-360 R/L 1xRt/1xLt
L 2 Moving X10 Yds Scissors R/L Skiers F/B Hammer R/L/X-Over F/B R/L Hop F/L/B R/L Zig Zag Hop F/L/B
Qtr Eagles R/L Circles R/L
L 3 Hop and Stick L 4 Jump Rope moving
#3 Platform Step Ups X20 Seconds
R/L Ft Forward R/L Ft Lateral R/L Ft Crossover
SGL Leg Frwrd R/L SGL Leg Lat. R/L SGL Heel Tap Lat. R/L
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets
#4 Jump Rope X 120 Jumps
(2 Ft, Scissors, Rt, Lft, X-OVR Rt & Lft) 20 each
L1 2 sets L 2 3 sets L3 4 sets
Shoulder Drills – Pick 1 – 2
#1 Shoulder Activation Series – Do each Drill X 10
Short Wings 90/90 Pec Dck Ret. Pump It Up
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets OR Add weight
# 2 Shoulder X’s 10 Reps Each
X Retraction rt up X Retraction lft up T Retraction
Hip Hinge – Bent Over
Posterier Shoulder Y’s T’s A’s
Prone TD’s Angel Wings
L1 Body weight/20’s L2 2.5 lb X 10’s L3 5 lb X 10
# 3 Standing BW Series
Empty Can Bnt Ovr Empty Can T’s Bent Over T’s
Int/Ext Rotation Hip to Lip 90/90 Rotation
Bnt OVR 90/90 Rot. Bnt OVR Angels
L1 Body weight/20’s L2 2.5 lb X 10 L3 5 lb X10
# 4 Shoulder Tubing Series x 5 – 10
Int/Ext Rotation 90/90 3 Way Int/Ext Rot.
Hitch Hiker 90/90 3 Way Retraction
Y’s, T’s, A’s
Level 1 LITE Tubing 5-10 Level 2 Lite + Tubing 5-10
Level 3 Medium Tubing 5-10
Core Exercises – Pick 1 – 2
# 1 Body Wt Core
McGill Sit Ups: Rt/Lft Straight & Rt/Lft X-OVR 10’s Ea. X 10
Lat. Leg Lifts R/L Each X 10
X Superman’s: Same Arm/Leg & Opp. Arm/Leg 10 – 20 per set
Parachutes: X Superman 10 – 20 per set
Level 1- 1 set Level 2 – 2/3 sets
Level 3 – Hold on Coaches count
# 2 Planks
Prone Leg Abduction, Chicken Wing, Alternate Reaches
Lateral Outside Hip Leg Up, Leg Swings, Apple Pickers
Lateral Inside Hip Hip Up, Leg Swings, Apple Pickers
L1 all x 3’s L2 all x 6’s L 3 all x 9’s
# 3 Chop-Lift-Twist Ea. 1-2 X 10
Use Keiser, Cable Trainer or Tubing
Twist stance parallel Chop/Lift stance half kneel
Knee/foot/ankle L1- 1 Fist apart stance L2 Either side of a line stance L3 In-line stance
Hip Hinge Training – Pick 1
# 1 Bridges Ea. X 5
Two Feet Rt/Lft X-OVR Rt/Lft X-OVR Rotate
Skips(Knee Punch) Rt/Lft Leg Up Rt/LFt Leg Out
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets
# 2 Tip to a T L1 ½” Band Ft to Shldr – Same and Opposite Side Reach Back Swing Leg
L2 1/2 ” Band Ft to Neck – Same and Opposite Side Reach Back Swing Leg
Ea. X 5 L3 ½” Band Ft to Hand – Same and Opposite Side Reach Back Swing Leg
# 3 AB/AD Series Squat and Squeeze Bridge and Squeeze Good Morn & Squeeze
Ea. X 5 Ankle Band Shuffles X – Band Shuffles
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets
Knee Flexion / Stopping – Pick 1
# 1 1 Leg Balance Squat Series Reach Front, Lateral, Back, Scorpion Each 3’s Right and Left
L1 1 x 3 of each L2 2 x 3 of each L3 3 x 3 of each
# 2 Push Back Lunge Series Forward Push Forward Diagonal
Ea. 3’s Lateral Reverse Diagonal
Drop Step Scorpion
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets
Crawling Planks Forward/Backward Shuffle R/L Cross Over R/L
10 YARDS Each Carioca R/L Spiderman F/B Alligator F/B
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets
Functional Flexibility Series – Pick 1
#1 Squat Flexibility L1 Cat to a Squat to a 1 Arm Reach and Stand
L2 Stick, Bar, Band, Rope, Jump Rope Overhead Squat
Ea. X 10 L3 ½” Super Band O – Overhead Squats
#2 Windmill L1 Get up with 10% of Body Weight
L2 Get up with 15% of Body Weight
L3 Get up with 20% of Body Weight
#3 Turkish Get Up L1 Get up with 10% of Body Weight
L2 Get up with 15% of Body Weight
L3 Get up with 20% of Body Weight
What emphasis do you put on core training and when and where does it fit in your program?
Core training is done at the beginning, middle and end of all of our strength workouts performed in the weight room. At the beginning of our workouts we may do chronic abs which are a series of on the floor sit –ups done either coach directed or at the athletes direction targeting all areas of the abs. We may also do hanging abs, where we hang from the racks and lift our legs, knees or feet up to our stomach, chest or hands in a variety of exercises. We may also do some swiss ball exercises, some mediball drills or some rubber band or tubing exercises for our core. I always assign some type of core training prior to the work out in order to awaken and stimulate the core in order to foster correct neural recruitment to protect the core as the heavier exercises are executed. Years ago it was recommended that no core work be done prior to heavy weight training in order to prevent core fatigue and possible injury. I have found over the years that some core work at the beginning actually seems to help foster better mechanics during the lifting workouts.
At the end of our workouts we assign more ab/core work and a lot of this is of the weighted or heavier variety. We repeat our pre workout chronic abs but add ankle weights and a plate or mediball in our hands for extra resistance. We do burnout sets with the mediball. We prescribe swiss ball exercises for stability and strength when the athlete is already fatigued. We do more rubber band or tubing ab drills. I also have found that if I break up the ab work I can get better compliance from my athletes, especially when it is not coach directed.
Many of the exercises our athletes perform call the core into play. When an athlete cleans, snatches, squats or does combination lifts, the core is being called upon in order to support and stabilize the load. Many of our circuit workouts with dumbbells have an extreme core component in the execution of the individual exercises. In essence, any time our athletes are standing and lifting loads that are in their hands or on their shoulders, their core is involved to some degree. The higher the load is over their shoulders and the lower the hips are in the movement, the greater the core is being called into play. Going from bilateral support to unilateral support increases core involvement. Decreasing the stability of the athlete or increasing the instability of the surface the athlete is on increases the demand on the core.
In summary, the more ways we can target the core, the better we get at just about everything we do.
Is warm-up that important?
Warm – up is a critical component of the training and conditioning process in my philosophy as a coach. Warm – up will set the tone, tempo and attitude of the individual, group or team for the entire workout. If the warm – up is slow, methodical, sloppy, half – hearted, mechanical, or non – existent, then the workout, practice or competition will reflect that type of warm – up. However, if the warm – up is up tempo, crisp and possesses variety, then the following session will begin will reflect those same attributes.
I try to accomplish several things during warm – up. I want to warm the athletes up. But, I also want to create suppleness throughout the body, turn the neuromuscular system on, properly prepare the athletes for the workout to follow and progress the warm – up to the point the athlete is ready to handle the stressors of the upcoming workout. I call this sequence warm – up, loosen – up, turn – on, build – up and workout.
Warm – up consists of a variety of exercises and drills I implement in order to create an athlete that is prepared for the workout. When I was coming up, warm – up used to consist of “run around the goalpost” or “3 times around the gym” or “give me a lap around the track” and that was it. Today, warm – up is utilized for pre – hab injury prevention exercises, neural innervation to “turn on” the proper musculature, agility, mobility, core strengthening, joint loosening, balance enhancement, spatial awareness training, as well as building up to the speed, power and strength in the ranges of motion needed in the workout itself. In other words, as Vern Gambetta queried many times,
“Where does warm – up end and the work out begin?”
The warm – up is crafted based upon several parameters. The type of workout that will follow the warm – up, the sequence of the previous workout, the warm – up menu for the training period, the demands of the sport and the needs of the athlete. If the workout is a horizontal speed session, then the warm – up is more like a “track” warm – up, with lots of sprint technique drills. If the workout is a lateral speed and agility session, the warm –up is designed to prepare the athlete for hip, knee, ankle flexion, rotation and extension at the proper speed and depth. If the work out is a strength, plyometric, conditioning or work capacity session, then the warm – up will again reflect those differences.
During warm – up I prescribe lots of pre – hab drills in order to foster injury prevention. Things such as neck for football, multi – planer balance single leg squats and single leg good mornings as well as rubber band walks for ACL protection. Slide board drills for groin development/protection, hamstring slow speed strengtheners on glute hams, physioballs and with partners to name a few. Loosen – up consists of dynamic movements to prepare the joints and the body for the full range of motion demands of the workout. I do not do a lot of “stretching” prior to a training session. Old timey stretching/flexibility is saved for post workout time.
Turn – on is a reference to incorporating the neural component of the neuromuscular system. Many of my athletes have been in bed sleeping or sitting in class just prior to the training session. Many of the muscles have been somewhat dormant and need to be awakened or “jazzed up” for the workout. The core needs to be addressed, the glutes need to be made to function and on some specific athletes, the abductors and adductors of the hip need remedial work. I assign specific drills and exercises in order to get these areas fired up and functioning as they were designed.
Build – up refers to the athlete continuing the warm – up to the point in which they are prepared to move at the speed needed for the session and in the manner required for the drills assigned. If the athlete is doing an agility workout, they need to be prepared to bend, rotate, extend and explode in and out of cuts. If the training session is a horizontal conditioning session, then the athlete needs to be prepared to run at the tempo required for the sprints assigned. If the athlete is going from warm – up to the platform, then they need to be ready to pull and rack quality weight with posture, power and technique.
My warm – ups are generally 10 – 20 minutes in length and consist of a variety of drills, modalities, techniques, planes, tempos and ranges of motion. It is imperative the athlete be prepared for the upcoming session. I look at it this way. If the upcoming training session were a competition, would I want my athletes prepared to start fast, with great focus, function and fundamentals? I think we all would respond with a resounding “Yes!”
Many performance professionals include track type drills as a part of a dynamic warm-up. Drills such as skips, butt kicks, shuffles, carioca and back pedal are a staple of many dynamic warm – up programs. But, why do we do those drills for performance athletes and performance clients? Riding a bike, jogging on a treadmill and calisthenics are all good options for raising core temperature, increasing heart rate and upping the respiration rate, which are the goal of a good warm-up.
Most performance athletes and performance clients compete or are very active in ground based endeavors such as sports or exercise classes or have hobbies and/or jobs that involve moving with speed and efficiency. Most of the drills we use in dynamic warm-up patterns are repeat opportunities for first step and get away step mechanics practice. If done with focus, technical proficiency and power, the athlete can repeatedly practice the posture, mechanics, arm drive and core stability needed in order to become a better athlete in terms of moving with efficiency.
The drills and what they are doing follow:
Skips – Single and double leg skips are repeat first step mechanics for linear movement. Knee punch action with a toe-up casted ankle are critical for proper force to be imparted into the ground which will in turn drive the body forward. If the glute is engaged on the back side as the foot makes ground contact, the body will be propelled linearly and cover ground. If not, the ground reaction forces of the foot contact will cause the body to move vertically as much as linearly. Common errors include no force into the ground (this is huge), poor casted ankle/foot drop, collapsed posture, poor arm action.
Butt Kicks – Single and double leg butt kicks are to reinforce the cyclic action of sprinting. When sprinting, the heel will almost brush the buttocks as the ankle crosses above the opposite knee. When running, the ankle will cross at the opposite knee. When jogging, the ankle will cross below the opposite knee. If the athlete has a casted ankle with the toe-up, then the butt kicks will be springy upon ground contact. Most athletes will let the ankle drop and allow the foot to “reach” for the ground as contact is made. This will add to ground contact time and is a major difference between running and sprinting. Posture should be tall with a braced core, good arm action and hips over the toes. Common errors include flat-footed ground contact, poor arm action, excessive knee lift with the butt kick and too much forward lean and/or flex at the hips.
Slide Kicks – Double Leg slide kicks are excellent for training transition from starting acceleration to absolute speed in sprinting. This occurs for most team sport athletes beginning at the 10-20 yard mark. With a toe-up casted ankle, the athlete stands tall and begins to jack hammer the foot up and down above the ankle. Quickly the amplitude of movement will increase as the foot/ankle will go up to the opposite knee and jackhammer to the ground. The athlete will begin to lean at the hips and the jackhammer force will begin to propel the athlete linearly. As the lean increases, the amount of ground covered between each step will increase as the force the athlete imparts on ground contact will propel the body forward. The jackhammer action does not change as the speed increases. Common errors include dropped foot for contact (no casted toe-up ankle), collapsed posture, obvious change of gears from acceleration to a run rather than acceleration into a sprint, poor arm action and flat–footed ground contact.
Cycle Kicks – Single and double leg cycle kicks are the most technically difficult to learn to execute and usually takes 4-6 weeks of mastering the other three linear drills before this drill is incorporated into the dynamic warm-up. Cycle kicks are a combination of the other three drills and are a mimicking of the sprint cycle action. The difference is that this action is done in warm-up and is fast in execution but does not impart the force that is used in acceleration and sprinting. Focus on tall hips, braced core, heel-up, toe-up, arm action can all be the focus of this drill which creates a slightly different exercise on each rep as the focus is changed. Common errors include uneven leg cycles, poor high ankle recovery and collapsed posture.
Lateral Drills –
Pull Shuffle – Pull shuffle is what we normally think of as a shuffle drill. The front leg is pulling the body forward. This is what is used in basketball defense as the athlete shadows an offensive player that is a comfortable distance away. Common errors include too much external rotation of the legs, over striding with the front side pull leg,
Push Shuffle – The push shuffle is much more violent and explosive as the back leg will impart great force into the ground in order to move the body laterally. Knee punch, toe-up casted ankle technical emphasis is reinforced. The knee of the push leg will be ahead of the toe in order to impart force on the push. Again, think of the basketball athlete on defense, but this time the offensive player is very close and the defender is attempting to beat the offensive player to a spot in order to redirect his movement. Common errors include too much external rotation of the legs, pulling with the front side leg rather than pushing with the back side leg and being too outside dominant (usually due to too much double leg squatting) thus being bow legged with the knee outside the foot rather than on the inside edge of the foot for the push-off.
Lateral Skip – Is a repeat action of the first step in push shuffle in order to cut off an opponent. Keeping the shoulders and chest perpendicular to the acceleration direction as the arms drive from front to back. The lateral movement occurs from the backside leg putting force into the ground. The front side leg will cover the ground in relation to the force imparted by the back leg. As in any acceleration drill the front side leg should have a knee-up/toe-up focus with the foot contacting the ground under the hips. In other words, don’t overreach or overt stride with the front side leg and attempt to pull the hips forward. Common errors are no backside knee punch, poor rhythm, over striding with the front side foot and bad arm mechanics.
Carioca – The carioca drill is an opportunity to repeat the first step mechanics for the crossover step. High knee action across to the opposite hip with the little toe up focus to keep the knee ahead of the toe for good acceleration mechanics is critical for optimal acceleration mechanics. The back side arm action must be with a 90 degree flexed elbow in a front to back action rather than crossing the mid-line in order to prevent the shoulders from rotating toward the direction of acceleration, thus creating unwanted motion during this repeat drill. The rotation should occur below the hip while the torso above the hip is relatively perpendicular to the direction of acceleration. Common errors include poor casted ankle/foot drop, low knee recovery, poor landmark placement of backside knee-punch, poor arm mechanics and collapsed posture.
Crossover Run – the Crossover run is the front side/back leg of the carioca drill repeated. It is imperative for the backside elbow to drive back and not cross the mid-line in order to prevent torso rotation. The backside knee should punch up and across the hips aiming for the front side hip. The little toe should be the focus and in a toe-up position. This allows the knee punch to be optimally in front of the foot in order to impart force back into the ground in a backward vector. The shoulders should stay perpendicularly square to the direction of acceleration. The downward knee punch and rearward elbow punch should be equally forceful in order to create maximal acceleration in reaction to the ground contact force.
Crossover Skip – The crossover skip is usually easier to learn than the crossover run for most people. This is more of a pattern drill than an acceleration drill in order for athletes to become comfortable with the rhythm of the crossover pattern. It is a drill to introduce in the progression in order to make the coordination of the crossover run easier for the athlete to internalize. The focus is on the rhythm of the drill first, followed by cueing the knee punch, arm action and finally the little toe up mechanics. Since a skip is slower than a run, it is easier for the athlete to be aware of the movements and techniques needed to optimize the pattern. Common errors include not skipping or skipping with only one leg.
Back Pedal – The back pedal is to teach stopping mechanics for change of direction. Hip, knee and ankle flexion as well as posture is critical in order to prevent the collapse and possible internal rotation that occurs all too often as athletes attempt to absorb force. Many time this poor force absorption pattern results in an ACL rupture. The key points of cueing are chest over knees, knees over toes. The feet should be forward and the arms should be driven backward forcefully at the elbow. The posture should mimic as if the athlete were doing a good morning or in other words the tall, braced core, flat back attitude should be apparent.
Backward Run – The backward run is prescribed to emphasize and create awareness of backside mechanics. Explosive elbow drive, heel – up and reach, posture and ground contact point are all similar, but much more critical to locomotion when attempting to go fast backwards. In order to execute this drill, it is much easier to start with a back pedal and as the speed increases, instruct the athlete to get tall, hammer the elbows back and get the heels up and reach. Instruct the athlete to lean in the direction of acceleration with the hips tall and great posture as top end speed is attained. Common errors include leaning away from the direction going (which results in a lot of work and very little locomotion), low heel recovery, poor arm mechanics, poor posture and externally rotated feet.
Backward Skip – the backward skip is a drill that is prescribed in order to allow the athlete to feel the heel brush off of the buttocks. Optimal posture is easier to attain, arm mechanics are slower and can be emphasized and foot contact is much easier to correct. The common error is a lack of rhythm for the movement pattern.
Backward Butt Kicks – This drill will correct a lack of heel brush off of the buttocks. Long-term joggers and bigger athletes such as offensive linemen in football will benefit greatly from this drill. The emphasis on backside heel to buttocks brush will pay dividends for these athletes as high speed, absolute sprinting will show mechanical improvement with high ankle recovery which in turn allows for stride length optimization as well as better ground force production due to the corresponding optimal knee punch.
External Rotation of the Legs – This is usually due to too much double leg squatting or leg pressing and a corresponding dominance of the outside sling or outer, lateral areas of the hips and legs which create tighter TFL, IT band and vastus lateralus causing the external rotation expressed in the lower leg and foot contact mechanics. In order to correct this the addition of single leg exercises such as Bulgarian (also known as pitcher squats), multi-direction lunges and multi-direction single leg squats are critical. Especially useful to correct this is the lateral lunge or squat and the scorpion lunge or squat. Additionally, the lateral leg musculature needs to be lengthened and/or released via stretching, massage and/or application of vibration.
Rhythm/Drill Mechanics (walk before run) – Just as in learning any new skill, it is best to execute it walking before trotting, jogging before running and running before sprinting. The addition of the skip application of the drill allows more explosive forces to be applied but at a slower tempo of movement allowing for corrections to be cued and internalized before sprinting is attempted.
Posture (Strength/awareness/age & maturity) – Posture is more complex as there are a variety of issues that could contribute to a collapsed posture. The easiest correction is just due to a lack of awareness. Creating focus via a verbal cue many times is all it takes to correct this problem. Tight hip flexor complex is also a reason for collapsed core as the front side core above the hip will flex on the hip opposite the knee punch as a reaction to the tight hip flexors on the straight leg side. Poor front side low core strength and stability will also contribute to postural collapse as the upper core attempts to assist in the lifting of the heavy lower limb during acceleration mechanics and the corresponding drills. Many times the growth spurt experienced by emerging athletes will exacerbate this problem as the rapid lever lengthening will make stability strength much more difficult to master and/or maintain in these drills. At full speed/absolute speed the athlete should be tall, chest over the hips, hips over ground contact point and be “planed out” like a boat on water. In other words, the athlete should be sprinting up on top of the ground/track/field/court for a short distance. This is not sport speed but speed development and is different than the speed that is used in sport competition.
Poor Arm Drive – This is usually due to lack of awareness and/or front side shoulder tightness. Front side anterior deltoid and pec stretching will allow for additional ROM. To create greater awareness, add a very light weight (1-2 lbs) to the hands of the athlete or place an ankle band from the webbing between the thumb and forefinger to the elbow which will not allow arm straightening during the hammer back phase of the arm drive. Arm drive should be from “cheek to cheek” or shoulder height in front with the hands and almost shoulder height in back with the elbow.
Foot Drop or Poor Casted Ankle – Have the athlete rub the toes up on the top of the shoes. Have them march in place with a casted ankle. Why is this so critical? When the foot drops and “reaches” for the ground, the ground contact time is increased and the tendons are not loaded as much as the muscles are loaded. When the mucles are loaded, the athlete is running. When the tendons are loaded, the athlete is sprinting. That is why conditioning is concerned with volume and sprinting/speed development is concerned with quality.
These drills will assist the client/athlete to improve first step and get away step quickness if done with focus, effort and intensity. Impulse into the ground, posture, mechanics and being engaged mentally will greatly increase the quality of the efforts which will increase the abilities of the client/athlete, if done with consistency.