Posts Tagged ‘dynamic warm-up’

It’s pretty much accepted in athletic training circles to go through a thorough warm-up prior to training or competition. I mean other than the meat heads that do their beach workouts, most athletes will spend some time warming up. In the industry we are all aware that warm-ups are beneficial for a number of reasons but until you actually compare a workout with and without a thorough warm-up it can difficult to tell the difference. This was the case last Saturday when I met some hockey players for a sand dune conditioning workout.

One of the players had asked to leave early for a previous commitment. It was a family commitment and he did ask ahead of time so I thought I would allow it this time. Now we wouldn’t have a lot of time to workout so we got right to it.

Before I carry on I have to say that I definitely don’t advocate training without a complete and thorough warm-up. And by warm-up I mean foam rolling, general warm-up on a bike or a light jog, a dynamic warm-up, some mobility drills for the ankles, hips and t-spine, some core activations and anything that may be necessary to get everything ready to do some work.

As well, we went straight into the workout because I know this athlete, I know how his body moves, I know his fitness level and his training history. Combine this with the fact the sand dunes would be uphill and thus take out the effects of gravity. As well the soft, deep sand cushions his strides as he climbs the hill.

So we proceeded into the workout. Again we are in a conditioning phase of the training so nothing was explosive or high tempo. Basically just an early morning workout that is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I say that because at the bottom of the dune the heart rate begins to climb before we’ve even taken one step. The sympathetic nervous is doing its job and heart rate begins to climb as a result.

As we round the top of the dune I make of the players’ time and we begin the descent down gravel path back to the start. The one player heads off for his function and we meet up with the rest of the group just showing up.

So some of players in this first group are going to do the climb a second time. They didn’t know this was the plan. And they don’t like the idea of doing it a second time. They did the first climb as though it was the last difficult training task for the day and weekend. Now they find out they have to do it all over a second time.

For the second attempt we run back up the gravel path for a few minutes. For there we get into a dynamic warm-up, some leg swings, a few skip drills and finish with some acceleration drills. After walking back to the start it’s time for a quick sip of water and ascent number 2.

On the second attempt the group averaged 15% faster than the first attempt. I was shocked! I didn’t expect the effects of a proper warm-up to transfer so effectively to a conditioning workout. Especially on a pre-fatigued group. Usually in the literature the benefits are portrayed as the ability to generate power. For example, a quick check of the recent research articles put out by the NSCA looks at the effect of dynamic warm-ups on jumping, agility, sprinting or anything else that is powerful and of short duration. Basically the exact opposite of a sand dune workout.

So what’s the point of all this? Well basically it reaffirms what we are doing. And it reinforces the necessity of dynamic warm-up prior to all training. I’d also go so far as to say that if pressed for time I would ensure a thorough warm-up at the expense of cutting a set or two on the training room floor rather than vice versa.


One thing I really enjoy about my job is being able to see the impact it has on a player’s game. While a player may make huge gains in the weight room and put up some impressive lifts this can be all for naught if in the end the player isn’t performing when the puck drops on a new season. I feel privileged to be able to watch the hockey players we work with during the 0ff-season play during the year. From spending a couple hours almost every day with these players I know their strengths, the weak links they worked hard to address, their work ethics, their attitudes and every else that is important to success in hockey. And once a player moves on to the next level I may make a trip to catch some of their games and see how everything is going. Recently I had chance to sit down and grab some breakfast with one of these hockey players that has moved on from the WHL and is now playing in the AHL.

After spending some time catching up and sharing stories I asked this player what he thought was one of the biggest differences to jumping fromt the ‘dub’ to the AHL. There are lot of things that he could have said from the speed of the game, to the age of the players, to the amount of travel or the amount of preparation that goes into every game. But here’s what he said.

The biggest difference he noticed at the next level was the attention the veteran players put on their preparation. Whether it be proper dynamic warm-ups, to foam rolling to adequate cool down and regeneration after games and practices there was a significant difference at this next level. Players recognize and put more attention in the soft-tissue work that helps keep everything in alignment, keeps what should be mobile, mobile and keeps what should be stable, stable. In other words these players had figured out that the best way to get your body prepped for top performance and to recover most quickly was by doing the little things. Gone are the days of playing sewer ball and singing in the showers as a pre-game ritual. Now it was seeing what is going on at the next level, modelling those who are having success and reaping the rewards as a result.

Cody Almond

Cody Almond – Minnesota Wild

***Update to this story. Since we had that breakfast Cody Almond has been on a tear in the AHL. This hasn’t gone with out notice by the Minnesota Wild and today Cody was called up to make his NHL debut.***

Sometimes it’s hard to see where all the little things factor in to the game of hockey especially when it involves something done off-ice. So whenever you have the chance to see a player up a level doing the little things pay attention and look to see how you can incorporate this into your routine.