Warming Up Properly (Part II)


The last article examined the major mistakes made by
athletes and coaches when designing warm-ups. This article defines the characteristics
of a proper warm-up routine. Well-designed warm-up routines are (1) effective,
(2) specific, and (3) useful.


An effective warm-up routine is one that accomplishes its goal Рgetting the athletes ready to work out without causing undue fatigue. Begin with very low intensity dynamic range of motion exercises such as neck rotations, arm, and leg swings and gradually build up the intensity.  Pay special attention to areas of the body such as the neck, shoulders, and low back that are prone to injury during grappling. The warm-up should cause everyone to break a sweat and breathe heavily, but stop short of causing actual, performance limiting fatigue. A good rule of thumb is to devote 10 minutes to warming up. The routine can be extended slightly if the workout is early in the morning or during wintermonths.


Warm-up routines should be specific to the activity they precede. This specificity has both a physiological and a psychological component. Physiologically, the warm-up should involve the same muscle groups emphasized in the target activity. It should also match the intensity of the upcoming workout.High-intensity training sessions require a longer warm-up that finishes at are relatively high-intensity. For psychological purposes, a higher intensity warm-up will get the athletes in the proper mindset for a tough workout. Short,light warm-ups might get the athletes ready for teaching a new technique but will not prepare them for hard drilling or live sparring.


In addition to getting the athletes ready, the warm-up activities must provide useful training. Whenever possible, incorporate basic techniques, movement skills, or basic drills in the routine. This serves two purposes, first to increase the specificity of the warm-up and secondly to get the athletes more involved mentally in what they are doing.  Examples of skills that can be practiced during the warm-up are breakfalls, tumbling, balance exercises, bridging,pummeling, and grip fighting.

Brian Jones, PhD

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